Our Customers Tell the Story…
A trip back in time. What an interesting trip back to a slower time (1848). The canal boat pulled by a mule and the boat crew dressed in period costume along with the narrator (Mary Todd Lincoln) really made the whole trip come alive! A great way to spend an afternoon. The actual visitor center, 2 blocks away, was really a trip in itself, most interesting and describes other attractions in and around LaSalle County.


Thank you for teaching us about the canal. The boat ride was really fun. And thank you for introducing us to Larry, Moe and Curly. It was cool to feed 2 mules and a goat. I never knew mules ate grass and goats ate leaves. I’m so glad I went on this field trip, and I hope I can come back soon.

-Brendan, 4th Grade

If you’re ever out for a weekend ride in the area of North Central Illinois, do yourself and the kids a favor and visit LaSalle, Illinois, and the LaSalle Canal Boat ride, where you can ‘step back in history’!? You’ll have a chance to ride in a mule-drawn canal boat and hear the history of Illinois pioneer days and the Illinois-Michigan Canal: A 96-mile long canal running from Chicago to LaSalle, which was dug by hand by Irish Immigrants in 1839.

The trip lasts about an hour and well worth the time! And, least I forget, you’ll get to meet Moe and Larry, the ‘motive power’ of the canal boat. After the trip, head back up to the visitor’s center for a sandwich or ice cream.

-Dan H.

Thank you so much. Each year it is very difficult for our students to have a field trip as there is no funding whatsoever through the district because of our financial situation. The Canal Organization makes it possible for these children to have a fun, yet educational day. We are glad Moe enjoyed the carrots as it is a highlight of our trip to feed him. Thanks for making this trip possible. The kids all dried out by lunch and said it was the best day ever.

-Desiree, 4th Grade Teacher

We really liked the combination of sites in our Explore LaSalle County Tour. The itinerary was planned out well. We literally loved it all!

-Diana M.

I stopped in today and had a very nice experience. The coffee was awesome, the Apple pie was sinfully good and the server was awesome. Her name was Erin. (Spelling could be wrong). She made us feel welcomed and warm. Keep up the good work. Thank You

-John Kozlick

While we were visiting the Starved Rock area in Illinois, we had the opportunity to take a ride on a replica narrow boat as used in the 19th century to transport goods through the canal pulled by a mule. The I & M canal was completely dug by hand using Irish laborers and has been restored by volunteers. The ride is a gentle trip of about 1 hour and narrated by the crew telling the history of the canal and its eventual demise and is part of the Starved Rock experience.


Thank you all so much for making my 50th birthday party such a memorable, wonderful, beautiful occasion. I feel so honored and blessed to have enjoyed the company of so many people from so many parts of my life gathered together in your wonderful café/visitor center in my honor. Thank you again!

-Julia M.

The customer service is excellent, especially since we had to deal with back-up plans for formidable weather conditions. You do a good job of staying in touch throughout the trip-planning process. The docents do a wonderful job on the boat. This trip really helps tie together everything else we've done on the trip. The meals are always great!

-Kim K.

Thank you so much for showing us all of the canal. It was so fun. It’s much more fun than social studies. Seeing all the turtles and frogs and snakes was so fun. I never knew that mules were half horse/half donkey. I loved the whole thing!

-Lauren, 4 th Grade

The canal boat was interpreted by ‘Mary Todd Lincoln,’ who did a wonderful job of telling the passengers how the boats operated in 1848. The boat is pulled by a mule and you can get ‘up close and personal’ with Mo or Larry before the trip. The animals are well cared for and kept company by Curley, the goat. Well worth the cost of the ticket.

The Lock 16 Visitors Center is a ‘hidden gem.’ Food was good and great value. We had a double-dip ice cream for $2.50 — locally made ice cream. Lunch was excellent, and the menu had a good variety of choices. The gift shop had many interesting and unique items and prices seemed reasonable. The cafe and boat were very clean, and the people who worked there seemed to enjoy their jobs. We highly recommend this trip.


“I’ve hosted two parties now at Lock 16, a bridal shower and a baby shower. The food was very good. All of our guests commented about the charming atmosphere and complimented the food and great service. Thank you for making both occasions so special and memorable!

-Mary N.

The overall experience was excellent. The Lock 16 Center atmosphere with brick walls is neat. Pricing of food in tour package was fair. Interpreters on boats were both excellent each time we visited. Mule Tending 101 Class is great for participants to become more informed about Larry and Moe. Everything throughout the day was consistent and on time. The boat was very clean.

-Nina W.

The trip lasts about 90 minutes and is a leisurely float in a boat pulled by a mule. The mule (Larry) is very well cared for and his work is actually an easy stroll for him. The guides are quite good. It is lead in part by Mary Todd Lincoln. Lots of information is provided in a very palatable format. The guides are in period costumes, but they are not obsessive about staying in character like many re-enactors are.

The atmosphere is quite festive and yet one picks up a great deal of information. For example, I found out that Wild Bill Hickok started out on this very canal as a mule tender. We are big Hickok fans and even visited his grave up in Deadwood. It was so cool to imagine him as a young man, strolling the same path we took. It makes history come alive. The scenery is wonderful. We saw scads of Great Blue Herons. It was just a perfect day. Ok, so it isn't a Caribbean cruise, but it is just fine in its own ‘Small Town America’ way. We will absolutely be back.

By the way, they do allow ‘canine passengers, ‘ so if you have a well behaved pooch, they are welcome to ride the old canal as well.

-Pam D.

We had a bridal shower for my daughter-in-law at Lock 16 two years ago, and it was fabulous. Everyone raved about the charming atmosphere and the fabulous food – especially the Asian chicken wraps. The minute I found out I was expecting a grandchild, I couldn’t wait to start planning the shower and insisted there is no place else to have the shower but at Lock 16.

-Sherry F.

Thank you for helping me plan our day in LaSalle. Everyone enjoyed the boat ride. It was really interesting. Our guide was excellent. We all thought the meal was very good. The mansion was so interesting. Our guide there was also great. She did a very good job, too. Everyone had a great time!

-Shirley M.

On Sunday my wife and I drove to LaSalle to visit the Canal Corridor Association and ride on the canal boat. The experience was wonderful and surpassed all of our expectations. Your shop is well designed and very comfortable. It was a perfect place to enjoy a snack after the ride. The pie was delicious, my compliments to the chef.

The gift shop was merchandised by pros. The selection was varied and appealed to anybody entering the shop. But the high point of our day was the ride on the canal boat. The staff that accompanied us was entertaining as well as informative. He gave us a glimpse of life along the canal both during construction as well as life on the boat.

My compliments to you and your staff for making our experience exceptional. Your team’s hard work and planning to attend to the smallest detail was evident and appreciated.

-Tom D.

We had a group of 44 adults, most of whom knew very little about history in general and almost nothing about the interesting background and reasons for the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The guide was very knowledgeable and creative. Her presentation, as we slowly moved along the canal, was extremely well done. She knew her stuff and had great ‘people skills.’ I’d recommend the trip to anyone and may actually make the effort to bring friends for the experience, even though I live 150 miles away from LaSalle.

-Tom W.

Our group visited several sites in LaSalle County a few weeks ago. We appreciated the canal boat experience – all aspects – from the Lock 16 Visitor Center and Café to the interpretive guides and boat staff, not to mention the perfect weather, which topped it off. Many thanks!

-Wendy M.

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