Having lived in TONICA since 1999, I now approach the city of LaSalle from the south and although I am sure some things have changed, so many of the old businesses and the serenity of the Illinois River you must cross via a bridge mirrors at least some of what they must have saw. I often cross the bridges that lead to LA SALLE area with the eyes of a tourist, as if seeing it for the first time, even though I have lived in this area all of my life. And it is always a wonderful feeling.
In the 1876 city directory, they go on to explain the broad streets that climb the hillsides, the central churches and the out-lying factories and coal shafts. THey recognize the railroads with their buildings and the great Illinois River with it's bridges and how as a whole it speaks of enterprise and prosperity.
The old directory goes on to explain how different it must have been for the explorers Father MARQUETTE and Louis JOLIET (who have streets named for them, side by side in LA SALLE), as they came upon the area 200 years earlier in their canoes along the Illinois River. The writer explains the quiet as opposed to their time in the late 1800's...the "rustle of the long grass" and the "ripening maize". It goes on to say that buffalo and wild deer were still the inhabitants of land at that time. Without the "varied sounds of labor that follow the trail of the pale face".
In the spring of 1673, JOLIET and MARQUETTE (a French Jesuit), five oarsmen & two Indian interpreters came to the area after being sent by the Governor of Canada to discover the mouth of the Mississippi. The group discovered a large Indian populace in the present site of Starved Rock State Park, in 1876 known as the Old Utica site. They came across the site in September of 1673, on the return of the expedition. The group of Indians were more than a mile long in location along the bank of the Illinois River, flanked with corn fields and dotted with tents. The next day Father MARQUETTE preached to the dwellers there and the story of Jesus was told for the first time on those banks. Later by the French, the town of UTICA was known as La Vantum or the great Indian town.