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Songs and Stories
     September 5, 2019      #35-248 SsK

Looking Back: Dams spurred local growth

By Jack Klasey

Like busy beavers, people have been erecting dams across Kankakee waterways since the first pioneers settled here nearly 200 years ago. While the beavers blocked streams to form ponds for their partly-submerged lodges, humans built their dams to harness the power of flowing water. That water power was used for two vital tasks in the pioneer world: sawing wood to construct buildings and fences, and grinding corn and wheat into flour.

The first recorded dams in what now is Kankakee County were erected in 1837 or 1838: William Rantz dammed Davis Creek northwest of Bourbonnais to operate a sawmill, and Asher Sergeant blocked the north channel of the Kankakee River at ...

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