The Port of Channahon is a village in Illinois about 59 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of the Port of Chicago. The Port of Milwaukee is almost 180 kilometers (111 miles) north-northeast of the Port of Channahon. Part of the Mississippi-Illinois River System, the Port of Channahon is home to over 12.5 thousand people.
Archaeological evidence indicates that mound builders lived in the area of the future Port of Channahon as long as four thousand years ago. The Potawatomie Nation gave the area the name of Channahon, meaning "meeting of the waters." Until settlers came to claim the rich farmland in 1832, the Potawatomie were the only inhabitants of the future Port of Channahon.
Building of the Illinois & Michigan (I&M) Canal started in 1836, and the Port of Channahon was the location of one of the locks. Myrvin Benjamin developed the plans for the Port of Channahon. At first, it was called DuPage, the name of the river upon which the settlement began. In 1840, the name Swifton was adopted, reflecting the name of the President of the Board of the I&M Canal. As long as the canal was the main transportation source, the village prospered. When the railroad arrived, Port of Channahon growth slowed.
Incorporated as the Village of Channahon in 1962, earnest development efforts did not really begin in the Port of Channahon until the 1970s. Two important interstate highways were near the Port of Channahon, and they brought industry to the area. These included petrochemical plants, an oil refinery, a soybean oil production factory, and many businesses that supported the freight-hauling industry. Residential development also increased. When coal mines in eastern Kentucky began to close, people moved to the Port of Channahon seeking work.
In the late 20th Century, the Port of Channahon took on a new character - that of upper middle-class residents. Subdivisions grew up to the west in dairy farming and gravel quarry areas that were near the I&M Canal. A natural gas pipeline stretching from Canada to the Chicago area ended in the Port of Channahon in 2000, bringing economic growth in the form of tax revenues and jobs.
Until very recently, the Port of Channahon had no downtown. The Village is working with developers to create a new Port of Channahon downtown area with upscale stores and city homes around a new town hall. Even with the nationwide recession, the Port of Channahon's economy is strong and growing. It is in a favorable central location with easy access to Interstate Highways 55 and 80, and the I&M Canal presents opportunities for developing recreational attractions. In 1996, the Port of Channahon was a finalist in the National Gold Medal Awards Program that recognized its outstanding parks and golf course.
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