Our Organization

December, 2018

Dear Friends,

Our organization, the Friends of the Hennepin Canal, is alive, well and growing. Below are listed some canal and association news items that have occurred over the past year.  Certainly, work remains, and we must keep in mind our most critical overarching goal is to save the canal. If this precious resource is ignored, we will lose it. Forever.

One of the best things you can do to help preserve our canal is to become an active member of its Friends of the Hennepin Canal. 

A summary of news about the canal and its Friends:

  • We welcome Michele Hartwig, Andrew Sigwalt and Lauren Wills as new members of the Board of Directors. 
  • Although the Visitor Center was closed during the summer, we are happy to inform you that the it is now open.  We welcome Dianna Skowera, Office Coordinator at the Visitor Center located just off the intersection of I.80 and Rt. 40, near Sheffield.
  • The Friends organization continues its cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, including Dianna, Tom, Kevin and Jim.
  • After struggling several years without a State budget, IDNR received some funding when a budget was finally passed. Although the appropriation is meager, we’re most thankful for what appears to be some stabilization of the funding process.
  • This year’s Hennepin Hundred Ultra-marathon was another success. The H.H. continues to gain popularity, bringing runners from throughout the U.S. and several from foreign countries. This year, with over 400 runners and their support teams and hundreds of volunteers and spectators, well over one thousand people enjoyed the canal at the event. Many of these people were seeing the Hennepin for the first time, and we frequently heard expressions of how special our canal is.
  • Morgan Thurman, owner of MIVA, a lovely gift shop in the Geneseo, raised $2000 in an event to benefit the Hennepin Canal. She presented the gift to us in October. The Friends Board will  use the gift to repair the roof of the shelter at the Visitor Center.
  • The Friends received $1,114 from donations through this year’s  John Deere Birdies for Charity program. Spectators who love the Hennepin declared the Friends as their charity of choice.
  • We received a check for $1,000 from the Sterling Noon Rotary Club after Friends Board member Lauren Wills gave a talk about the condition of the Guard Lock in Rock Falls.
  • We created a new brochure that includes pictures, history, maps and other useful information about the canal. Nearly all the costs for this important project were paid for by last year’s donations from the John Deere Birdies for Charity program.
  • Membership stands at about eighty good Friends. If you haven’t rejoined, please visit our website at http://friendshennepincanal.org/
  • We welcomed James Marks, President of the Rock River Development Association, to our September Board of Directors meeting. The RRDA, located in the Rock Falls and Sterling community, is devoted to maintaining the Feeder portion of the canal. We plan to expand efforts of mutual interest. 
  • Friends member Rene Robinson has produced a short, colorful and delightful presentation about the Hennepin. Rene is willing to make presentations to interested service groups. For information, contact the Friends through our website, friends-hennepin-canal.org.
  • Tom Vandemore, acting Park Superintendent, guided several Friends officers in an examination of the gates that regulate the water flowing into the canal at the “Guard Lock” in Rock Falls. The IDNR has identified the critical condition of these gates, technically called “sluice gates.”
  • The Board of Directors has designated the repair of the sluice gates as its highest long-range objective.
  • The  Friends participated in a series of sessions organized by Henry County Chairman Roger Graddert. These meetings included municipal, county and State public officials and were focused on ways to maintain the canal parkway. Mr. Graddert plans to continue these meetings. 
  • Ed Herrmann continued to host the monthly walks and clean-ups. Our top hiker this year, the person who completes the most hikes, was Rene Robinson. On these walks, several of the regulars, including Ron Horton, Ed, Wayne Leader and Phil St. John make trash collection a part of their exercise.  
  • State Senator Chuck Weaver has attended several meetings the subject of which was the critical maintenance of the canal. In September, Senator Weaver joined several Friends in a boat-ride examination of the Guard Lock and sluice gates.

We look forward to seeing you this coming year at our activities and on the banks of the Hennepin Canal.

On behalf of the Board of Directors,

Gary Wagle, President



Board Members: 

Michele Hartwig, Ed Herrmann, Patrick Herrmann, Ron Horton,

Duke Mueller,  Bruce Perry, Andrew Sigwalt, Lauren Wills