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7 Pieces Of History Near Waltham, IL

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Waltham, Illinois is a small unincorporated community in Grundy County, located about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. Despite its size, Waltham has a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century. Here are seven historical events that have taken place near Waltham, Illinois:

1. The creation of the Illinois and Michigan Canal: Construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal began in 1836 and was completed in 1848. The canal connected the Illinois River to Lake Michigan, providing a crucial waterway for transportation and commerce. Waltham is located near the eastern terminus of the canal, which helped spur economic growth in the region.

2. The birthplace of Oscar F. Nelson: Oscar F. Nelson was born in Waltham in 1871 and went on to become a prominent businessman and philanthropist. He founded the Nelson-DeMille Theater Company, which produced silent films in the early 20th century. Nelson also donated significant sums of money to Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, and other institutions.

3. The founding of Morris: Morris, Illinois is located approximately six miles east of Waltham. The town was founded in 1853 and quickly became a hub for agriculture and manufacturing. Today, Morris is home to several historic landmarks and museums, including the Grundy County Historical Society Museum.

4. The birthplace of Everett Dirksen: Everett Dirksen was born in Pekin, Illinois in 1896, but he spent much of his childhood in Waltham. Dirksen went on to become a U.S. Senator and a key figure in the Republican Party during the 1950s and 1960s. He was known for his eloquent speeches and his support for civil rights legislation.

5. The Morris Mine Disaster: On Christmas Eve in 1951, an explosion occurred in the Sunshine Mine in nearby Morris. The explosion killed 54 miners and was one of the worst mining disasters in Illinois history. The tragedy brought attention to the dangers of coal mining and led to increased safety regulations in the industry.

6. The founding of the Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area: The Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area is a 2,500-acre preserve located just west of Waltham. It was established in 1969 to protect the prairie ecosystem and its wildlife. Today, visitors can hike, birdwatch, and explore the area's unique geological formations.

7. The construction of the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant: The Dresden Nuclear Power Plant is located approximately five miles east of Waltham. Construction of the plant began in the 1950s, and it began generating electricity in 1960. Today, the Dresden plant is one of the oldest operating nuclear power plants in the United States and continues to provide electricity to the region.

In conclusion, Waltham, Illinois and its surrounding areas have a fascinating history that spans over 150 years. From the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal to the mining disasters and nuclear power plants, this region has played a significant role in shaping Illinois history. Every historical event has contributed to the cultural and economic growth of the area and made it what it is today.
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