Discover more from Stories of the I & M Canal National Heritage Area
The Mazon Creek Fossil Crew
The 2023 Canal Boat Captain's Award Honorees - Part 5
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Canal Stories, a series brought to you by the Canal Corridor Association to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Illinois & Michigan Canal and the communities that were shaped by its legacy. We’re continuing our special week-long series highlighting the seven 2023 Honorees who were recognized at our Boat Captain’s Luncheon in April of this year. These outstanding individuals and organizations are celebrated for contributing to the success of the I&M Canal National Heritage Area, and for furthering the principles on which CCA was founded. Today, we’re celebrating the hard work and dedication of the Mazon Creek Fossil Crew.
So far, our honorees accomplishments have been in environmental restoration and education, interpretation and storytelling, downtown revitalization and economic development, and historic architecture and development of historic attractions. Now we turn to something you probably weren’t expecting: 300-million-year-old fossils.
The Mazon Creek Fossil Tours began when the president of the Canal Corridor Association married the landowner of a portion of the National Landmark Mazon Creek Fossil Beds, and then a university professor showed up at the owner’s door, asking to do research. The idea of sharing this one of a kind, private, hard-to-reach site was born.
The Mazon Creek Fossil Tours began eleven years ago as a way to share this site and help the Canal Corridor Association raise local funds needed to match the National Park Service funds it receives. Over the years, a one-day tour grew to two, then in 2019, it expanded to two separate events: one for families and kids, and one for fossil collectors.
The event includes an introduction to these 300-million-year-old fossils, along with a hay ride down to the river, hours in the creek hunting for fossils, abundant farm to table food and drink al fresco, and a time for sharing and identifying the fossils found.
Over the years, a community of fossil enthusiasts stepped forward to assist with the work of the event and to increase its educational value. We celebrate Pete Kodat, Dave Dolak, Andrew Young, Marie Angkuw, and the other volunteers for helping the Canal Corridor Association fulfill its mission of education in a very unique way.
That concludes today’s Canal Story. Thank you so much for joining us as we continue our journey through the history of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, pass it along to your family and friends, and be sure to tune in tomorrow for the sixth installment of this spotlight series, featuring the Seneca Area Heritage Museum. We’ll see you again very soon.
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