Welcome to Grundy County, Illinois
Grundy County contains only 432 square miles, so it is small compared to many other counties, but it is one of Illinois’ most important commercial and agricultural counties. The Illinois River, along with other streams, gives Grundy County about 45 miles of waterways.
Morris, the County Seat
The first permanent settlers arrived in Morris in 1831. The town is named after Isaac Newton Morris, who was a commissioner of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Morris was incorporated February 12, 1853. Abraham Lincoln visited the Morris home of William T. Hopkins prior to his departure of Ottawa, Illinois, for the Lincoln-Douglas debate.
Do you have history you can share with Grundy County? If you have historic pictures or stores about Grundy County that you would like to share, please contact us.
The Name Grundy
The father of the bill creating Grundy County was William E. Armstrong. He was an ardent admirer of Felix Grundy, the greatest criminal lawyer Tennessee ever had. Through Mr. Armstrong’s influence the new county was named Grundy although it is doubtful the famous lawyer ever set foot inside its boundaries.
The historical Illinois & Michigan (I&M) Canal is adjacent to the Museum. The canal was completed in 1848 to provide a link between the East Coast and Mid-America by connecting the Great Lakes to the Illinois River.
In its short life span, the Canal revolutionized freight and passenger traffic on the Illinois waterways. Midwest shippers suddenly found Chicago and the vast eastward route open to them. The Canal provided the first complete water route from the east coast to the Gulf of Mexico by connecting Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. Formerly, all goods had gone by way of St. Louis down the Mississippi Rover to Gulf ports. The I&M Canal opened up Chicago as a lake port and started a business boom which made Chicago one of the most important cities in the world.
Heavy use of the Canal did not last. By 1854 railroads offered faster travel and made passenger boats obsolete.
Today the Canal towpath is used for hiking and bicycling. Shelters and picnic areas have been added. Come to visit the Museum and take a walk along the scenic towpath. The Museum gift shop carries free copies of the Canal map.
Things to do in Grundy County
- Grundy County Historical Museum
- Shopping in Nostalgic Downtown Morris
- Visit the Canalport Park with a replica of a canal boat
- Walk a part of the I&M Canal to Stratton Park Boat Launch
- Visit Gebhard Woods with CCC Camp buildings
- Evergreen Cemetery–Chief Shabbona burial site
- Morris Heritage Homes–take a self-guided tour of beautiful historical homes in Morris
- Take a self-guided walking tour and visit the shops of historical downtown Morris
Museums in Area
- Carbon Hill Historical Society and Museum
- Gardner Jail
- Millington, IL Historical Society
- Seneca Area Heritage Museum and Resource Center
- South Wilmington Museum
- Gardner Museum
- Grundy County Veterans Legacy Center and Museum
- South Willy Historical Museum
- Goose Lake Prairie
- Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
- Mazonia-Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area
- Heidecke State Fish and Wildlife Area
- Gebhard Woods State Park
- William G Stratton State Park
- Lock 16 Visitor Center and LaSalle Canal Boat