The Chicago Marine Heritage Society
The Chicago Marine Heritage Society was founded in 1999 to assist Chicago area museums, charitable organizations, and federal, state and local government agencies in achieving success in their marine heritage oriented projects. The Society found that there was a wealth of initiatives by these organizations that met the Society's goals and were in need of logistical, administrative and legal support. The Society has helped these Chicago organizations achieve many diverse projects, including monuments, exhibits, regular programs and special events. The Society is able to operate independently from its own resources, without solicitation of funds or membership, and does not accept Government grants or fees for its services.
Samples of these endeavors appear in the 'Projects' section of our website.
The mission of the Chicago Marine Heritage Society is to work in partnership with other not-for-profit and government organizations in Chicago to discover, restore, protect and display historical properties; to preserve historical marine traditions, and to assist in the holding of public events which embody these traditions. Chicago's population is diverse and its marine traditions reflect this great diversity.
The Chicago Marine Heritage Society also partners with filmmakers, exhibit producers and event sponsors to preserve and publicize these traditions.
Chicago's Marine Heritage
Chicago has a long history as a commercial transportation center starting in the 18th century with a fur trapper named Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable. Farmers, lumbermen and fur traders used Chicago as a distribution point. With the completion of the Illinois and Michigan canal in 1848, an inland waterway was created joining the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico. The nation's emerging railroads linked Chicago to points west and further solidified Chicago's position as a transportation center. At the turn of the century, Chicago was handling more gross tonnage than any other American port.
During the war years, Chicago became a major US Navy training area for Navy Air, Carrier, Surface and Submarine Services that was essential to winning the war in the Pacific. Currently the greater Chicago area is home to the largest Navy training center in the country. Chicago has also become one of the country's best venues for international yacht racing. Every year Chicago hosts the longest inland race in the world, the Race to Mackinaw. Chicago's Dragon Boat Race is one of several river and lake special events that draw millions of participants and spectators every year.