The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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March 5, 1849

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When the canal was completed in 1848 its commerce brought more prosperity to La Salle than it did to Peru. Although the waters of the canal actually flowed into the Illinois River at Peru, La Salle was the real transfer point for goods and passengers between canal boats and river steamboats. The basin built at La Salle was where goods and passengers were on and offloaded. A channel from that basin extended to Peru (see document 17) where it flowed into the Illinois.

Peru first had been platted in 1834 and a small hotel had been built there as early as 1836. Under a plan for a general system of internal improvements which the state put forward in 1837 a railroad was to intersect with the canal and cross the Illinois River at Peru. When the state floundered in debt in the early forties Peru suffered badly. Many of the canal and railroad laborers left to seek work elsewhere. Some remained and farmed the surrounding countryside. When canal construction resumed in 1845, Peru prospered again. It was the trade center for a radius of some one hundred miles. But when the canal was opened to navigation in the spring of 1848 commerce shifted to La Salle. In June of 1849 a cholera epidemic killed hundreds and forced others to flee Peru. The National Hotel, Peru's largest and finest building, was destroyed by fire in August 1849.

Isaac Hardy had been the contractor who had built the steamboat basin and channel at La Salle (see document 18). He went on to construct the Hardy House, La Salle's first substantial hotel, a project he financed with the loan specified in this document. Increasing numbers of passengers required overnight accommodations as they traveled back and forth over the I and M.

Points to Consider

What did this resolution provide for?
Why was a hotel needed at La Salle in March of 1849?
How was it in the interests of the canal trustees to finance the construction of a hotel at La Salle?
Who was Isaac Hardy (see also document 17, document 18, and document 24)?

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