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Revisiting Origins Park

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On the way home from checking out the just opened small-boat launch on the Sanitary and Ship Canal Sunday afternoon, I stopped at the mouth of Bubbly Creek to fish a bit.

It'd been years. Man, has it changed.

chicagoriver7-06-08orginspark

It's all guzzied up (and renamed Canal Origins Park) from the first time I fished it more than a decade ago when there was still rubble scattered about from the burnt out Anderson Fish House.

But neighborhood people were still fishing it. (And neighborhood people are putting their stamp on the launch too, but more on that another day.)

chicagoriver7-06-08orginspark2

In a perverse way, I truly admired that the neighborhood people (there were dozens of people fishing, nearly all parts of families) forced their will to fish on the park planners.

The planners seemed more intent on doing a static piece of history. (The park is neat enough and has plenty of what has become a cliché in new parks: prairie grasses.) The neighborhood people reclaimed the park and found their way to the water's edge to fish.

I will say this again and again: Fishermen don't want, don't need, and, frankly, generally despise, fancy rod holders and fishing piers.

All fishermen want is the ability to get to the water's edge. They will take it from there.

Most of the fishermen were fishing out deep for carp and catfish. I fished tight to shore pilings and popped bluegill, small largemouth bass and bluegill.

Origins Park is at 2701 South Ashland on the east side of Ashland, across from the Sun-Times printing plant. There is street parking.

Here's the Chicago Park District description of the park and contact info:

``Canal Origins Park commemorates the creation of the Illinois & Michigan Canal as it connected the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River drainage basin. The park includes historical interpretation signage and sculpture depicting pre-settlement conditions and life on the canal after it was completed in 1948. There is also a “canal cut” which offers patrons views of what it would have been like to float down the canal on a canal boat. Other amenities in the park include native plantings, fishing station, and walkways.

``Canal Origins Park holds the distinction of being the only park in Chicago that is an official Chicago Landmark.
Canal Origins''

2701 S. Ashland Ave. (Map it)
Chicago, IL 60608
Phone: 312/747-6184
Email: play@chicagoparkdistrict.com

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I have not seen Canal Origins Park since it bore that name.

Back in late 80s (probably) I spent a day there with "Friends of the River" on a cleanup. I still have photos of the watermelon truck, a family of geese crossing the abandoned gas station's asphalt, volunteers hoisting unbelievable refuse up the banks.

The raw vestiges of its history was its appeal. I wonder if I'd like it now.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 7, 2008 8:25 AM.

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