Boating Lake County Blog

A Brief His­to­ry of Boat­ing on the Fox Chain O’ Lakes

Chain O Lakes Boating

The Chain O’Lakes has an exten­sive his­to­ry dat­ing back to the mid-1800s when pas­sen­gers were trans­port­ed by steam pad­dle-wheel­ers as well as goods up and down between the Fox and McHen­ry Rivers in Spring Grove.

The Chain O’ Lakes have three nat­ur­al lake: Grass Lake, Lake Marie and Nip­persink Lake„ while the oth­er sev­en lakes are con­nect­ed by the Fox Riv­er like Bluff Lake, Fox Lake, Pis­ta­kee Lake, Chan­nel Lake, Petite Lake, Lake Cather­ine and Red­head Lake. The rest of the lake in the sys­tem called the Duck, Long, Spring, Dunns and Bran­den­burg Lakes. 

This area was set­tled orig­i­nal­ly by the cen­tral Algo­nquin Tribe which was ulti­mate­ly tak­en over by French trap­pers and traders in the 1600s.

Today, the Fox Chain is known as the world’s busiest water­way on a per acre basis.

The State of Illi­nois made the Chain O’Lakes a state park in 1945 when the pur­chase was ini­tial­ly of 80 acres. The state park now sits on 2,703 acres and adjoins to 3230 con­ser­va­tion area in both Lake and McHen­ry County.

From this recre­ation­al area sprout­ed a boat­ing and rac­ing her­itage pro­duc­ing 32 boat rac­ers who have record­ed 48 Nation­al Cham­pi­onship Titles. Of these suc­cess­ful rac­ers, there were 26 or more World Speed Records on water set.

Besides the lake sys­tem, Chain O’ Lakes obtains sev­en pic­nic areas equipped with tables, water foun­tains, grills and toi­lets as well as four trails. The pic­nic areas are Oak Grove, Maple Grove and Oak Point with play­ground equipment.

With Boat­ing Safe­ty Week going on May 16 – 21, and the time approach­ing so quick­ly for boat­ing sea­son (well it’s already began but this weath­er is so unpre­dictable), a week­end get­away at to the Fox Chain O’ Lakes is per­fect for near­ing extend­ed week­ends like Memo­r­i­al Day weekend.

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