Re: Chicago's Harbor Lock
Brian J. Patterson
Date: January 24, 2014 12:26AM
Hello again, nordsider.
1. The "San" is the part of the Illinois and Michigan Canal that could not be bypassed by dams and locks "elsewhere." When the Army Corps of Engineers established the "9 foot channel" in the 1920s and 1930s, the "Panama Canal" type locks in use today were built next to the "old and too small" locks, the canal was widened and deepened, and continued in service, becoming the "San." The rest, from Lockport to Joliet, and from Joliet to LaSalle were "officially" abandoned when the locks at Dresden Island and Marseilles opened in the 1930s.
2. The Chicago River was reversed because of the cholera epidemics. The cholera epidemics were caused by everyone's sewer pipes, house and street, running straight into the Chicago River. This wouldn't have been so much of a problem since Chicago never drew its drinking water from the Chicago River. However, Chicago, to this very day, draws its drinking water from Lake Michigan. Oddly enough, the Chicago River used to flow into Lake Michigan as well. The Water Intake was relocated further off-shore at least once, but it was decided to remove all doubt by reversing the Chicago River to avoid this unintended "recycling" of water.
3. The river was also reversed because the engineers who designed the I&M Canal over-estimated the water they would gain from other feeders. Pre-reversal, the I&M's summit was, oddly enough AT Summit. The canal flowed east to Chicago from there, and westward to LaSalle. Thus, when the canal first opened in 1848, it never had its "advertised" depth due to lack of water. This reduced freight capacity of barges, and ocasionally stopped navigation of the canal altogether. By reversing the Chicago River, the flow of the canal was changed to be all "downstream" from Chicago, thus ending the "chronic water shortage" of the I&M.
3. When "downstaters" first found out that Chicago was reversing the Chicago River to solve this problem, they were overjoyed. The I&M Canal would at last be able to reliably carry fully loaded barges. The "new" water flowed, and the downstaters cheered--until they spotted the "floaters." Thus began quite literally a fabled Illinois Tradition--Chicagoland defecating on downstate.:P
Brian J. Patterson.
> The dual purpose Sanitary and Ship canal ("San")
> was built in 1900, in part, I presume, because of
> periodic outbreaks of cholera and typhoid fever,
> including one in 1890. I have also read, that the
> water-borne disease typhoid death rate alone
> reached 174 per 100,000 people in 1891.