The Chicago Portage archive is available for download as a single .zip file from here. The archive includes copies of The Chicago Portage Ledger, photographs of the site, and the video "Connected Worlds: The Story of the Chicago Portage.
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Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River

As the party of Frenchmen paddled down the Mississippi they saw plenty of game but no signs of people.  Still, Marquette describes their security measures:

We continued to advance, but. … we had proceeded over one Hundred leagues without discovering anything except animals and birds, we kept well on our guard. On this account, we make only a small fire on land, toward evening, to cook our meals; and, after supper, we remove Ourselves as far from it as possible, and pass the night in our Canoes, which we anchor in the river at some distance from the shore.”

Finally on June 25th they see the first signs of natives on the west shore:

we perceived on the water's edge some tracks of men, and a narrow and somewhat beaten path leading to a fine prairie. We stopped to Examine it; and, thinking that it was a road which Led to some village of savages, We resolved to go and reconnoiter it.”


Next page: First Contact with the Illinois...In Iowa!