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Historic Diaries: Marquette and Joliet

Mid-September, 1673: Chicago shoreline

Editor's Note:

Marquette and Joliet emerged from Chicago harbor onto Lake Michigan in mid-September, 1673. As usual on the return trip, Marquette left no account of it. La Salle, however, who came past the same shoreline six years later, described it in the words at left, referring to himself in the third person. Marquette probably experienced similar difficulties with the early autumn winds and waves at the foot of the Lake Michigan bluffs.

La Salle's account is from pages 55-57 of his Relation of the Discoveries and Voyages of Cavelier de La Salle from 1679 to 1681: The Official Narrative(Chicago: The Caxton Club, 1901) available in our American Journeys online collection.

LaSalle's Narrative: "On the same day, the 2d of October [1679], he resumed his journey, sailing for four days along shore. There were high, steep bluffs running close to the lake, so that it was hard to find a landing-place. They were even compelled at evening to climb to the top of the bluff, carrying up the canoes and their loads, in order not to leave them them exposed all night to the waves which eat at the foot.

"They were also compelled during these four days, and often since, to land with great inconvenience by reason of head winds or gales. In order to re-embark, two men had to go into the water to the waist to hold the canoe upright until it was loaded, pushing it out or drawing it back as the waves advanced or retreated; then they pushed out beyond the breakers, to wait until the others were loaded in like manner; and there was as much difficulty in disembarkation."

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