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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Podcast & Blast with Hal Herring


Mar 28, 2023

BHA Podcast & Blast, Ep. 152: Murder of the Grand Kankakee Marsh

“I have never yet found a place that equaled the Kankakee swamps for the variety of game to be found there.” – J. Lorenzo Werich, 1920.

Few know the history now. None who experienced it are still alive to tell us the tale. But it was once known as The Everglades of the North, a million acres of marsh and swamp in Indiana and Illinois, with thousands of people living on the wealth of its fish and game, flocks of waterfowl darkening the skies, passenger pigeons, deer and black bear, beaver and muskrat and otter. For decades it was the so-called “pantry of Chicago,” providing wild game to markets and restaurants, furs to the garment and hat industries, tons of cut reeds for packing materials, and millions of board feet for lumber for houses, including fueling reconstruction after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Then the huge steam-powered dredges came, and the murder of the Grand Kankakee Marsh began. Can we ever put to rights what we once so thoughtlessly sundered? Join us for a conversation with Hal and two of Indiana’s finest storytellers and conservationists: Jeff Manes, a former steelworker turned columnist for the Chicago Tribune who grew up fishing and hunting the swamp, and Jim Sweeney, of the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League and Friends of the Kankakee.