"The smallest and busiest river in the world."
Chicago grew from a portage for fur traders into one of the world's leading ports for lumber and grain. The history of commercial boating is seen in the development of vessels from the canoe to larger wooden boats, rigged sailing ships, and ultimately steel ships driven by paddlewheel and then steam. The waterways of the area were tamed with the bulding of the I&M Canal in 1848 and the reversal of the Chicago River in 1900. In the 19th century, the iconic schooner contributed to Chicago's commercial success. By 1906, 200 foot long schooners gave way to 600 foot long steel-hulled ships. Ship building became an important business.