Building the Canal to Save Chicago

Chapter 5 Photos, 1–23

(photos 24–45 here)

Rock Section

BC-Photo 5.1
BC-Photo 5.1

The levee in Section 6 constructed between the Des Plaines River on the right, September 20, 1894. The Main Channel is out of the view on the left. The railroad tracks were used to haul spoil from Main Channel overburden removal to the levee for fill. (MWRD photo, disc 26, image 18)

BC-Photo 5.2
BC-Photo 5.2

A hydraulic dredge being used in Section 6 to remove soft and wet soil overburden, 1895. The spoil slurry was used in the construction of the levee between the Des Plaines River and the Main Channel or it may have been placed where rock spoil would later be placed northwest of the Main Channel. (MWRD photo, disc 5, image 14)

BC-Photo 5.3
BC-Photo 5.3

A photo taken on June 7, 1894, shows how manual labor was used to excavate overburden in Section 2. Spoil loaded into the hopper cars was then transported by horse or mule teams to the spoil pile on the northwest side of the Main Channel. Steam locomotives were also used to move the hopper cars. (MWRD photo, disc 26, image 42)

BC-Photo 5.4
BC-Photo 5.4

A stream shovel in Section 5 is used for overburden and rock excavation in constructing the Main Channel, 1895. In most section contracts, the steam shovel was the equipment used for excavation. These Bucyrus machines were the smaller forerunners of excavating machines used in the construction of the Panama Canal. The front of the steam locomotive used to transport the hopper cars to the spoil pile is shown at left. (MWRD photo, Geiger set, image 219)

BC-Photo 5.5
BC-Photo 5.5

A steam shovel at work in Section 15 excavating the Main Channel in 1895. Solid rock was not near the surface at this location. Masonry or concrete walls were built to contain the flow in the Main Channel and excavated spoil was used as backfill behind the walls. (MWRD photo, Geiger set, image 174)

BC-Photo 5.6
BC-Photo 5.6

The bed rock surface in Section 5 sometime in 1895 after removal of overburden. Rock excavation would proceed until the full depth of the Main Channel was reached. Masonry walls were built on top of the rock to contain the eventual flow in the channel. (MWRD photo, Geiger set, image 310)

BC-Photo 5.7
BC-Photo 5.7

June 10, 1896. A steam powered channeling machine used to cut the face of the vertical rock wall before drilling and blasting the rock mass for excavation of the Main Channel. This machine cut a neat vertical trench a few inches wide and up to 16 feet deep. The trench prevents cracking of the vertical rock face of the wall when the rock is broken up using dynamite for removal. The rock wall face is to the left and the rock to be blasted and removed is to the right. (MWRD photo, disc 4126, image

BC-Photo 5.8
BC-Photo 5.8

Rock excavation of the Main Channel in Section 11 on September 25, 1894. After the channeling machine cuts are made on each wall, holes are drilled in the rock and dynamite is inserted in each hole as shown here on the upper level. After the blast, the loose rock is removed from the lower level and placed in hoppers. The hoppers are lifted by overhead hoists and transported to the spoil piles shown in the left background. The rock is excavated in layers or lifts as shown here up to a total depth

BC-Photo 5.9
BC-Photo 5.9

Workers loading broken rock by hand into a hopper in Section 5, 1896. The loaded hopper will be lifted by a hoist under a cableway and moved to the spoil area where it will be dumped. (MWRD photo, disc 4126, image 87)

BC-Photo 5.10
BC-Photo 5.10

March 27, 1895. Double-leg rotating derricks removed rock from the channel excavation in Section 14 on the left and deposited the rock on the spoil piles on both sides of the channel. Spoil was deposited on both sides of the Main Channel in this area. As can be seen, each leg of the derrick supported two hoists for hoppers. As two were being hoisted from the bottom of the excavation, two were being dumped on the spoil pile. (MWRD photo, disc 3, image 95)

BC-Photo 5.11
BC-Photo 5.11

A double cantilever inclined truss is used in Section 12 for rock removal from the excavation of the Main Channel, 1895. The Truss support was mounted on rails for travel alongside the Main Channel. Hoppers were hoisted from the floor of the Main Channel, moved by a trolley up the slope of the inclined truss, and dumped on the spoil pile. In the foreground are gaps in the rock wall where the structural rock quality was poor or weak. (MWRD photo, Geiger set, image 338)

BC-Photo 5.12
BC-Photo 5.12

This photo taken September 11, 1894, shows the removal of rock in layers or lifts beneath a double cantilever inclined truss in Section 12. A channeling machine is seen along the far wall under the farthest truss. Once the channeling machine completes the wall cut on both sides of the Main Channel, the rock will be drilled and blasted for rock removal. (MWRD photo, disc 7, image 15)

BC-Photo 5.13
BC-Photo 5.13

The removal of rock under a cableway in Section 8, August 31, 1895. The cableway method uses two towers, one on each side of the Main Channel and outside the extent of spoil piles. Hoppers for the rock are suspended from a trolley traveling on the cableway. On the right workers are drilling holes for dynamite and on the left workers are loading blasted rock into hoppers. (MWRD photo, disc 7, image 3)

BC-Photo 5.14
BC-Photo 5.14

The method used on Section 9 for removal of excavated rock from the Main Channel to the spoil area, 1895. The cars were pulled up the incline by cables and a steam powered hoist. After loading the hopper cars at the face of the blasted rock, the loaded cars were pulled to the right and along the wall to the base of the incline. Empty cars were returned from the spoil area to the lower level on the other set of tracks. (MWRD photo, Geiger set, image 276)

BC-Photo 5.15
BC-Photo 5.15

A blast of 500 pounds of dynamite on May 22, 1895, to fracture the rock for excavation of the Main Channel in Section10. Notice the rocks that are blown up into the air, requiring that all workers leave the area prior to the dynamite detonation. The contractor for this section also used the double cantilever inclined truss for lifting loaded hopper cars and transporting them to the spoil area. (MWRD photo, disc 26, image 7)

BC-Photo 5.16
BC-Photo 5.16

The nearly completed excavation of the Main Channel in Sec. 11 looking to the northeast from the top of the spoil pile near Romeoville Road suggest the undated photo was probably taken in 1894 or 1895. The double cantilever inclined truss was used for rock removal from the Main Channel in this section. Along the east wall, two gaps are shown where the native rock was of poor quality. A masonry wall was constructed to close this gap. The I&M Canal is at the right. (MWRD photo, disc 14, image 25)

BC-Photo 5.17
BC-Photo 5.17

March 27, 1895, Section 13. Three of the many gaps in the rock wall that had to be closed with a masonry wall. A steam powered derrick has been installed on top of the Main Channel wall to facilitate the construction of the masonry wall. (MWRD photo, disc 3, image 92)

BC-Photo 5.18
BC-Photo 5.18

The collapse of a cableway tower in Section 8, 1895. The use of the cableway was shown in Photograph 5.13. In this view, one tower has collapsed toward the spoil pile and may have been caused by a break in the cable over the excavated area of the Main Channel. Also shown are parts of the steam boiler, mechanical equipment, and the service building. (MWRD photo, Geiger set, image 201)

BC-Photo 5.19
BC-Photo 5.19

September 24, 1896. Looking southwesterly in Section 5, this photo shows the failure of the masonry wall and spoil pile. The cause of this failure was not determined, but it may have been influenced by an earthquake that occurred in the prior year. (MWRD photo, disc 10, image 47)

BC-Photo 5.20
BC-Photo 5.20

September 22, 1896. Failure of the rock wall beneath the masonry wall in Section 5. Perhaps the weight of the masonry wall above caused the rock to fracture and spall. The wall was repaired using masonry stone and mortar. (MWRD photo, disc 4126, image 54)

BC-Photo 5.21
BC-Photo 5.21

May 17, 1895. The end wall of Sec. 7, adjoining Sec. 8. These walls separating each contract section provided for a defined separation and containment of drainage in each section. Each contractor was responsible for keeping the excavation as dry as possible. A cableway tower used by the Section 8 contractor is seen in the left background. Removal of the separation wall was the responsibility of the contractor who was the latest in completing work on the section. (MWRD photo, disc 2, image 29)

BC-Photo 5.22
BC-Photo 5.22

Looking southwesterly: The temporary trestle crossing for the Santa Fe Railroad in Section 8, 1895. The rock wall left for the trestle also served as the temporary crossing for Lemont Road or Stephen Street. The original railroad embankment was replaced with this trestle so work could proceed with construction of the permanent bridge spanning the Main Channel, and so rock excavation could proceed as close to the railroad crossing as possible. (MWRD photo, Geiger set, image 306)

BC-Photo 5.23
BC-Photo 5.23

The Lemont Road or Stephen Street Bridge in the foreground and the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge in the background, August 2, 1899. The temporary trestle for the Santa Fe Railroad is shown atop the rock wall across the Main Channel. At this stage of construction progress the excavation work is complete and drainage of the excavation has been taken over by the SDC. The hole through the rock wall on the left allows accumulated water to pass downstream. (MWRD photo, disc 9, image 28)