Illinois River

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The Illinois River is a principal tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately 273 miles (439 km) long, in the U.S. state of Illinois.[3] The river drains a large section of central Illinois, with a drainage basin of 28,070 square miles (72,701 km2).[2] The river was important among Native Americans and early French traders as the principal water route connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi. The French colonial settlements along the river formed the heart of the area known as the Illinois Country. After the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Hennepin Canal in the 19th century, the river's role as link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi was extended into the era of modern industrial shipping.



The Illinois River is formed by the confluence of the Kankakee and Des Plaines rivers in eastern Grundy County, approximately 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Joliet. It flows west across northern Illinois, passing Morris and Ottawa, where it is joined by the Mazon River and Fox River. At LaSalle, it is joined by the Vermilion River, then flows west past Peru, and Spring Valley. In southeastern Bureau County it turns south at an area known as the "Great Bend," flowing southwest across western Illinois, past Lacon and downtown Peoria, the chief city on the river.

South of Peoria it is joined by the Mackinaw River and then passes through the Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge. Opposite Havana, it is joined by the Spoon River, and across from Browning, it is joined by the Sangamon River. The La Moine River flows into it approximately 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Beardstown.

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