I think arguing for the academic importance is the first step. My first post in response to complaints calling for local history to be thrown out along with driver's ed and such. I think I successfully argued that local history has academic merit beyond those subjects. Removing local history from the IHSA distribution would likely be much more difficult than getting rid of the seemingly immovable driver's ed. So, I am suggesting that local history can be improved to better satisfy both sides.Okay, again (and if I could write this in OVER 9000 point font, I would) saying of a topic "it's important" and leaving it at that does not constitute a valid claim that something should come up. I believe you that the I&M Canal is historically important. It doesn't follow at all that we can (must less ought to) ask good questions on it. You just keep coming back to this argument; it remains under the same (seemingly damning) criticisms because you don't answer them. In addition to something being important, a topic has to have a wide variety of interesting, important clues about it that people know at differing levels in order to be an answer; that's really just how it is.
Let's look at that last sentence. You say that a question needs a wide variety of interesting and important (there's that word again) clues. I agree. Importance is no problem. I think I've shown that these things are important. Interesting is rather subjective. I can't say that I find all quizbowl questions interesting, but if broad history questions can be interesting, so can local ones. I have given a handful of potential clues for many of the topics above, and have related those topics to other topics already asked (an I&M canal question can be written in the same way as an Erie Canal question). Your real issue seems to be that you don't think people know local history with enough depth to merit pyramidal questions. That's the rub, right?
I didn't think that I needed to argue that people obtain knowledge locally. There's a higher probability that someone from Illinois will know multiple things about the Illini, for instance than a certain painting or novel. They may have learned about it in class, written a paper on it, gone to a local museum, read a historical marker, or looked it up after the recent Illini mascot issues. It's tough to prove that people know these things without seeing such questions in action, so writing about clues, importance, and accessibility seems to be what we're stuck with at this point. But I do plan on writing these question up and getting feedback on them.
To further prove the point. Lots of clues can be written about the Illini. It's not just a giveaway like it may seem to you. The Illini do not have a lot of famous leaders because they were mostly gone by the time Americans moved into the region in large numbers. The question would mostly have to be written based on their associations. A question might start by noting that a member of this confederation killed Pontiac in 1769. I haven't looked, but I'm sure I could find a primary source clue or two about that. French explorers interacted with them, so there are likely some clues there. Middle clues might have more to do with relative geography. "They traded with the Ojibwa or Chippewa to the north and the Quapaw to the south." From there you might mention the constituent tribes "Consisting of the Michigamea, Tamaroa, Cahokia, and Kaskaskia, what is this loose confederation of Algonquin tribes the mascot of the University of Illinois?" Now I have not done the research or thought much about the ordering of clues, but there is a lot to write clues about and multiple places to buzz. I seem to recall an NAQT question (possibly many years ago) about the Utes that was probably written in a similar way with a similar giveaway.