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Will County History

historic photo

Will County roots run deep through American history and can be traced as far back as 1673, when French explorer Louis Joliet chose the area as an ideal settlement site.

Louis Joliet and his voyagers were attracted by the Des Plaines River and its fertile deltas, as well as by the surrounding prairie soil, soft coal and ample lumber. The explorer wrote about the site, and settlers finally began to arrive in 1833. Will County settlers discovered that the area was ripe with the abundant natural resources needed to farm, build homes, establish businesses and cultivate new towns.

Soon, mills and factories sprang up along the banks of the Des Plaines River, and the discovery of abundant limestone deposits created a new quarrying industry that quickly flourished, employing thousands of people.

Joliet Historical Museum

The opening of the Illinois & Michigan Canal in 1848 inspired an era of aggressive industrial and commercial growth, attracting an influx of new residents. Will County experienced another surge in commercial and residential growth beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when business and government leaders decided to bring riverboat casinos and gaming to Joliet.

Furthermore, Interstate 355 opened to provide Will County commuters with a direct route to the northwest and western suburbs of Chicago.

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Will County, IL