Friends of The Hennepin Canal

Preserve & Protect For Future Generations

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Trails and recreational activites.

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The Friends of Hennepin Canal was formed to preserve, protect, and enhance the park experience at the Hennepin Canal State Park. Funding supports maintenance, recreational, historical, and educational opportunities.


Edmund Herrman


Remembering Ed

On August 19, 1998, Ed Herrmann attended a meeting of “a grassroots group of people” who intended to form a support organization to advocate for the Hennepin Canal. In November of that year, Ed became one of the first seven members of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Hennepin Canal.

Shortly after organizing, with the help of Supt. Steve Moser, a plan was developed for sponsoring monthly hikes, covering the entire 104 miles of the canal. Ed was one of the first hikers and, within a short time, he volunteered to become Hiking Chairman. 

Ed was the first winner of the “Hiker of the Year” award.  The trophy was a homemade walking stick. He went on to repeat that deed so many times that the Friends chose to simply cut notches in his original prize. The little honorary ceremony of notching his walking stick trophy was enjoyed at our Annual General Membership meetings. Now, we count 22 notches, each representing one year. (The first year didn’t get a notch, just the trophy.)  As a Friend member, Ed walked at least 1,200 miles of canal levees over the past quarter century. Regular “Hennepin Hikers” came to know Ed as a Friends’ icon. Many of our most dedicated members were introduced to us at Ed’s Hennepin Hikes. Regardless of weather, he was always at the trailhead with his clipboard, release papers and camera, welcoming new arrivals, taking the monthly group picture, and giving shuttle instructions. Under his leadership, Hennepin Hikers have gathered massive amounts of rubbish, often over-flowing the barrels located for IDNR pickup.

Board members fondly remember Ed’s monthly reports, always filled with entertaining antidotes about people and things to report to IDNR staff—washouts, downed trees, graffiti, etc. (He occasionally mentioned, for example, “the Budweiser Man.” Ed never knew who that person was, but he recognized him as the fisherman who left his empty beer cans at a particular fishing hole. Ed picked up his empty Bud cans.

With his camera, Ed produced a treasure of beautiful images portraying his time on the canal. We have used his photographic work in publications over the years. The Friends produced a lovely film that documents our 2007 Centennial celebration of the canal’s construction, entitled The Lock Tender. If Ed had not had the insight and skill necessary for recording that event, that important archive wouldn’t exist. 

His time on the Hennepin wasn’t limited to Friends activities, however. As his many nieces and nephews grew up, Uncle Ed would take them to the Hennepin and, under the guise of teaching them the art of fishing, expose them to an appreciation of Nature. With his “fishing buddies” such as Friend Ray Sandrolini, from early Spring until ice covered the water, Ed caught fish, taken from his various favorite sections of the Hennepin’s eastern branch. It was Ed and Ray who, for two decades, have provided the delicious pan-fish fillets served at the Friends Annual membership meeting.

This is about Ed Herrmann, the Friend of the Hennepin Canal. But being a Friend was just a small part of a full life, lived by a true gentleman: a life of service and caring. Ed will be missed by many. 

Upon learning of Ed’s passing, one of his hiking Friends said “Ed was a relentless promoter of the canal. Now it’s time for him to walk among the clouds.” If anyone deserves a pleasant stroll among the clouds, it is our Friend, Edmund Herrmann.


Gary Wagle, President

Friends of the Hennepin Canal

Visit Hennepin Canal State Park

Volunteering Opportunities available.
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Unlocking the Secrets Click here
Compliments of Rock Falls Tourism
Compliments of Geneseo Chamber of Commerce

Approved Recreational Activities

IDNR Approved Activities in the Hennepin Canal State Park Include: Picnicking, Hiking, Bicycling, Fishing, Boating, Canoeing, Camping, Equestrian Camping, Hunting, Snowmobiling,

Outdoor Fun For All Seasons

Kayaking,Hiking, Biking & Camping


Join Friends Monthly Hikes

Our Dream for Hennepin Canal State Park

1. Water Pumps

Wouldn’t it be great to have access to drinking water  when enjoying enjoying outdoor activities at the Hennepin Canal?

2. Signs for Bridges & Locks 

3. Working Bathrooms Along the Canal

4.  Events such as biking, kayaking, boat tours.

News & Announcements

2022 Friends Holiday Letter

Dear Friends of the Hennepin Canal, As we enter into this new year, we wanted to celebrate all of the 2022 accomplishments made possible by hard work, determination, and collaboration. Your membership continues to allow us to help preserve and explore the future...

Holiday Letter, 2021

Dear Friends of the Hennepin Canal, As we celebrate this holiday season, we wish you and yours peace and good will. As with much of the world, the COVID Pandemic has taken a toll on our organization. Some of our members were infected by the virus, the rest of us were...

friends Gallery

A few photos shared with us by friends on our Facebook Page.