National Geographic : 1967 Jun
Astern, black-hulled Aizu Maru of Tokyo loosed three hoarse blasts and nosed for Ja pan, carrying tractors, canned goods, books, clothing, machinery parts, and grain from all over the bountiful Midwest. My host gently set his tiny cup and saucer on the coffee table. "This is a good port," he said. "I make three round trips a year to Chicago. I have many friends here." I asked Dusan Malek to add me to his list, thanked him for his courtesy, and returned to the wharf. There Capt. John J. Manley, Direc tor of the Seaport of Chicago, joined me. "Chicago is the world's greatest inland port," Captain Manley declared unabashedly as we strolled 3,100-foot-long Navy Pier. "Why? Because North America's two major waterways meet here: the Mississippi River system-via the Illinois Waterway-and the St. Lawrence Seaway-Great Lakes route." * He waved a hand at M.V. FairHead, a British freighter taking on cargo. "Mark this. Since the Seaway opened in 1959, we've be come one of the world's biggest ocean ports as well, even though foreign commerce is still 748 only a small part of our total. More than 50 scheduled lines sail from here to 66 countries." Thus from Chicago's busy wharves, along the Calumet River and at Lake Calumet Har bor as well as Navy Pier, I saw the evolving Illinois-world trader. A little later I called on Governor Otto Kerner in Springfield, the state capital. He gave me a warm handshake and a tidy summation: "Illinois leads the Nation in combined agricultural and industrial exports. We are becoming the most international of the states." Rural Scenes Recall Early Days But another Illinois lives behind this cos mopolitan facade-the Prairie State of old, serene and slow to change. One sees it and takes contentment: The broad plain swelling to the sky's rim. Wind worrying the infinity of corn. Iron "donkeys" tirelessly nodding, pumping oil from beneath rows of soybeans and stands of wheat. A fidgety lad waiting for the dark of the moon to go coon hunting. Bypassed river *See in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: "New St. Lawrence Seaway Opens the Great Lakes to the World," by An drew H. Brown, March, 1959.