North Central College - Naperville, IL

Photographs of Illinois & Michigan Canal displayed at North Central

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Contact: Ted Slowik, Director of PR and Media Relations, 630-637-5307,

Sept. 2, 2010— Photographs by Tom Gill showing modern scenes along the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal will be displayed Oct. 17 through Nov. 18 at North Central College’s Oesterle Library Gallery, 320 E. School St.

Gill, of Tinley Park, will greet visitors at an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Gill, instructional media coordinator at the College, chronicles the heritage of landmarks along the waterway that opened up travel between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River when it was completed in 1848.

Hand dug by thousands of immigrants, and stretching for 96 miles, the Illinois & Michigan Canal is a testament to human ingenuity. Designed as a throughway for barges, the I&M Canal extended from Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood to the Illinois River, which flows to the Mississippi. Mules utilizing towpaths beside the canal pulled barges that transported goods and passengers, while a series of locks managed an elevation change of more than 100 feet from beginning to end.

The construction and use of this waterway turned Chicago into an important transportation hub for North America, with activity along the canal encouraging the development of towns along its banks. Eventually, however, the introduction of the railroad, which paralleled the canal, made it obsolete. Now, efforts are underway to revitalize this historic waterway—not as a mode of transportation, but as a place for recreation and relaxation.

Gill often visits the canal—a designated National Heritage Corridor and a habitat for countless plants and animals—to photograph its changing landscape. His primary interests include the remains of the limestone locks and the ruins of industry that once thrived along the canal. Focusing on the I&M Canal as it appears today, this photographic exhibit celebrates the parks, buildings, and industry that emerged along the canal's historic path.

Gill enjoys photographing other natural and historic subjects, such as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, lighthouses, barns, and nostalgic Americana. His photographs have been featured in magazines, books, calendars, brochures, corporate web pages, and gallery exhibits. A woodworker, sketch artist, painter, and hiker, he holds a fine arts degree in design from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His photographs may be viewed on his blog at

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Oesterle Library Gallery is open 8 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to midnight Sundays. Contact Nickole C. Lanham, North Central’s gallery director, at 630-637-5375 or to learn more about the exhibit.

The exhibit is among many ongoing programs at North Central College to enrich and broaden the cultural and academic outlook for the College and community. For a comprehensive schedule of musical performances, theatrical and dance productions, art exhibits and lectures, visit or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).