Frequently Asked Questions


How can there be boat travel from Rock Falls to Geneseo when there are so many culverts to go through?

The culverts that serve as “bridges” on the 50-mile canal between these two communities are twelve feet in diameter, and the water rises to at least 5.5 ft. in each one. A boat with a 10′ beam and draws up to 30 inches draft can easily pass through each of the designated “bridges,” provided it’s height is less than about 6 ft.


Won’t the canal have to be dredged before there can be boat travel?

 During the summer and fall of 2009, seven volunteers conducted a survey to answer this question. The stated purpose of this survey: “To gather empirical evidence to help determine what, if any, improvements, other than lock restoration, are required to restore the Hennepin Canal to a completely navigable channel for pleasure boats between the Guard Lock and Lock 24.”  The entire 50 miles were measured and observed by boat. Regarding depth, the survey concluded: “For the entire 50 miles, there is no need for dredging in order to permit navigation of boats with a draft of 30 in. or less. The few areas where there is less than 30 inches depth are short in length and have at least two feet dept. The canal’s bottom in those areas consists of soft silt that can easily be washed away by boat traffic.
Approximately a half dozen buried logs, above 30 inches, were encountered.”


Once the locks are in working condition, who will operate them?

 The Friends do not have a firm answer–the answer will have to be decided by the State of Illinois. However, we do have suggestions:
a.) Volunteers could be trained and certified by the State.
       Then, schedules could be arranged for volunteers to operate each lock.
b). DNR staff could operate the locks, paid, in part, by locking fees.
c.) Locks would be open at only set times (as they are, for example,
      on the Rideau Canal in Ontario). They could be operated by 
      methods mentioned above, or, perhaps, as is practiced in England,
      locks could be operated by boat operators themselves, who have
      been trained. Locks are relatively easy to operate.
The Friends see the question of lock operation as a minor issue. Once the locks become operable, public demand will produce a solution.


What’s to prevent the locks from being vandalized or opened during times of little or no operation?

Locks (gates and valves) are easily locked with chains. Each of the three locks has easy road access for police patrol.


Who is going to pay for Renaissance Hennepin Canal?

 From the beginning, the Friends of the Hennepin Canal has assumed that the restoration project would be privately funded. At the very earliest stages of fundraising, we are encouraged by the generous support that has been forthcoming.


Is the Friends group planning to place and operate a boat on the Hennepin Canal?