The Mighty Kankakee: History Against the Current


ACLS Fellowship Program




The Kankakee River in Northern Indiana/Illinois was once a sluggish, magnificent engine of biodiversity. In the early twentieth century, the river’s marshlands were dredged and destroyed. The soggy splendor of 500,000 wetland acres was no match for reclamation. According the logic of reclamation, the Kankakee destroyed resources rather than sustained them. By taming the river, farmland would be freed from the floods. Mud would become real estate. I argue that the best way to counter the gospel of unmaking that imprisons the Kankakee to this day is to alter the current of time. I intend to write the history of the Kankakee in reverse chronology to resurrect a stunning environment that can only be imagined today.