Calumet: First and Forever

Chapter 1: South Area Drainage

CFF-Photo 1.1
CFF-Photo 1.1

Photo 1.1. January 3, 1916. The Little Calumet River flows to the right past the mouth of Stony Creek East Branch. Looking west, buildings in Blue Island appear in the hazy distance over Stony Creek. In a few years, this mouth of Stony Creek will be gone, replaced by the eastern end of the Calumet-Sag Channel. (MWRD photo 5311.1)

CFF-Photo 1.2
CFF-Photo 1.2

Photo 1.2. April 6, 1916. The Morgan Park sewer outfall at left on the north bank is discharging sewage to the Little Calumet River. After construction of the Calumet-Sag Channel, this outfall will be eliminated and the sewage will flow into the channel. A railroad trestle and levee will be built along the river bank to separate the river from channel construction. (MWRD photo 5311.2)

CFF-Photo 1.3
CFF-Photo 1.3

Photo 1.3. January 3, 1916. Stony Creek East Branch flows east to its mouth on the Little Calumet River at right. This view was taken from what is presently Fay’s Point. Buildings in the left background are along Vermont Street, east of Ashland Avenue. (MWRD photo 5310.2)

CFF-Photo 1.4
CFF-Photo 1.4

Photo 1.4. January 3, 1916. Looking west from Halsted Street, the Little Calumet River is at left, flowing past a farm field with neat rows of corn stacks. This riparian land is subject to frequent flooding; the land north of the river is at a higher elevation. Presently, a marina is along the river and the Joe Louis Golf Course occupies the remainder of the area. (MWRD photo 5312)

CFF-Photo 1.5
CFF-Photo 1.5

Photo 1.5. Another sewer outfall, located on the north bank of the Little Calumet River at Wentworth Avenue, as it appeared on November 28, 1911, was built in the late 1800s as indicated by the headwall inscription. The old brick outfall is in need of repair. It was eliminated in 1922 when the sewer was rerouted to the Calumet Sewage Pumping Station. (MWRD photo 4709)

CFF-Photo 1.6
CFF-Photo 1.6

Photo 1.6. December 4, 1913, looking west at the Ashland Avenue bridge over Stony Creek East Branch. A little girl hesitates upon crossing the bridge to look at the photographer. (MWRD photo 4883)

CFF-Photo 1.7
CFF-Photo 1.7

Photo 1.7. The Division Street bridge over Stony Creek East Branch in Blue Island, viewed from the west, December 4, 1913. The District will build new bridges over the new channel, but the creek will be gone. (MWRD photo 4881)

CFF-Photo 1.8
CFF-Photo 1.8

Photo 1.8. Stony Creek East Branch flows west as it passes under the Chicago Street bridge in Blue Island. A man and a boy on a bicycle stop to look at the photographer east of the bridge, December 4, 1913. (MWRD photo 4873)

CFF-Photo 1.9
CFF-Photo 1.9

Photo 1.9. December 5, 1911, looking east from the north bank of Stony Creek East Branch in Blue Island. The first bridge downstream is Western Avenue, and the second bridge is the main line of the Rock Island Railroad, which then passes over Western at right. The new channel and new bridges will be constructed in about the same place. The new channel will replace the creek at this location. (MWRD photo 4712)

CFF-Photo 1.10
CFF-Photo 1.10

Photo 1.10. May 23, 1917, looking southeast over Stony Creek East Branch from the B&O Railroad bridge. The creek, passing the manufactured gas plant on the west side of Blue Island, is slightly out-of-its-banks, inundating the low area between the plant and railroad. The new channel will be constructed south of the plant. (MWRD photo 5949)

CFF-Photo 1.11
CFF-Photo 1.11

Photo 1.11. The manufactured gas plant viewed from the south on May 8, 1917. The railroad spur leads into the plant passing over the plant’s south wall. The new channel will be constructed south of the wall and the railroad spur will be changed to enter the plant from the west. (MWRD photo 5924)

CFF-Photo 1.12
CFF-Photo 1.12

Photo 1.12. March 24, 1913, when a flood occurred on Stony Creek East Branch in Blue Island. Looking west from the Chicago Street bridge, floodwater was up to some buildings on the north bank, but buildings on the south bank were spared. Highwater was usually the result of backup from the Little Calumet River rather than runoff from the upstream watershed. (MWRD photo 4796)

CFF-Photo 1.13
CFF-Photo 1.13

Photo 1.13. January 6, 1916. Fitzgerald & Company horse shoeing shop on the left adjoins Cook’s Livery and Sale Barn on the right located on the north side of Grove Street in Blue Island. Construction of the new channel brought business to the city. (MWRD photo 5320)

CFF-Photo 1.14
CFF-Photo 1.14

Photo 1.14. January 6, 1916. Building on the northeast corner of Western Avenue, on the left, and Fulton Street, in the foreground, north of the Calumet-Sag Channel route. Construction has already begun on the channel, and perhaps District employees would stop at the Loop Buffet for lunch. A construction field office was located in Blue Island, overseeing the eastern end of the channel. (MWRD photo 5325)

CFF-Photo 1.15
CFF-Photo 1.15

Photo 1.15. December 4, 1912. The Northern Illinois Public Service Company’s manufactured gas plant is immediately west of Blue Island and adjacent to two railroads in the foreground. Looking northeast, this photo was taken where the new channel will cross under the railroads. (MWRD photo 4886)

CFF-Photo 1.16
CFF-Photo 1.16

Photo 1.16. July 10, 1919, looking west from the Vermont Street bridge. Stony Creek East Branch is used as a dumping ground west of Blue Island. (MWRD photo 7181)

CFF-Photo 1.17
CFF-Photo 1.17

Photo 1.17. Street scene in the Village of Worth in the late 1800s. A construction field office was also located in Worth, overseeing the central part of channel construction. Travel to and from downtown Chicago was convenient on the Wabash Railroad. (Undated photo courtesy of the Worth Historical Museum)

CFF-Photo 1.18
CFF-Photo 1.18

Photo 1.18. June 9, 1919. Looking south across the feeder and along the west side of the road, the marsh extends to the trees in the distance on Lanes Island. Worth Road crossed the Calumet Feeder north of the village about 10500 South. (MWRD photo 7120)

CFF-Photo 1.19
CFF-Photo 1.19

Photo 1.19. June 9, 1919. Looking north from the Worth Road bridge over the Calumet Feeder, an expanse of marsh is evident on both sides of the road. Here, as in Blue Island, open dumping occurs along the roadside near the feeder. (MWRD photo 7121)

CFF-Photo 1.20
CFF-Photo 1.20

Photo 1.20. December 6, 1911. Looking northeast along the Wabash Railroad toward the Village of Worth near the route of the new channel. The low track bed is subject to flooding during wet weather and is surrounded by marsh. (MWRD photo 4720)

CFF-Photo 1.21
CFF-Photo 1.21

Photo 1.21. December 6, 1911, looking east from the Wabash Railroad. The marsh has transformed to ice-covered open water. The line of telephone poles follows Worth Road. (MWRD photo 4719)

CFF-Photo 1.22
CFF-Photo 1.22

Photo 1.22. December 6, 1911, looking east along 111th Street from the Calumet Feeder bridge. The ditches and fields on each side of the road are ice-covered open water, typical of the marsh land in low areas along creeks. (MWRD photo 4718)

CFF-Photo 1.23
CFF-Photo 1.23

Photo 1.23. June 9, 1918, looking north over the Calumet Feeder from the 111th Street bridge. Lush grass borders the feeder in expansive marshes along the feeder’s route. The Calumet Feeder became known as Stony Creek West Branch after the new channel was built. (MWRD photo 7130)

CFF-Photo 1.24
CFF-Photo 1.24

Photo 1.24. Photos 1.24 and 1.25 are a two-image panorama taken on June 9, 1919. From a short distance west of the 111th Street bridge over the Calumet Feeder, photo 1.24 is the view to the north, showing a large field of marsh grass stretching in the distance to higher ground. A trenching machine is in the right background. (MWRD photo 7125.1)

CFF-Photo 1.25
CFF-Photo 1.25

Photo 1.25. Looking to the northeast, the large field continues. To the right is a stockpile of drainage tiles that will be installed behind the trenching machine. A network of drain tiles in this field will drain excess water so the marsh can be productive farmland. (MWRD photo 7125.2)

CFF-Photo 1.26
CFF-Photo 1.26

Photo 1.26. November 19, 1919. Mill Creek is flowing from the Palos Hills toward South Feeder Road and the unfinished Calumet-Sag Channel, which are under and behind the camera, respectively. The creek has looked like this since tree growth was removed for farming. After purchase of the property by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, tree cover slowly reestablished. (MWRD photo 7388)

CFF-Photo 1.27
CFF-Photo 1.27

Photo 1.27. Less than a year later, on June 18, 1920, Mill Creek has experienced significant erosion and down-cutting, a result of the new lower outlet to the Calumet-Sag Channel. The cascade reveals a natural rock outcrop, indicating shallow overburden on top of bedrock. (MWRD photo 7621)

CFF-Photo 1.28
CFF-Photo 1.28

Photo 1.28. August 4, 1911. The Calumet Feeder passes under the Chicago & Alton Railroad bridge on its way to the Illinois & Michigan Canal, looking west from the Chicago and Joliet Electric Railroad bridge. The area, known as Sag Bridge, included a railroad station and small village. (MWRD photo 4676)

CFF-Photo 1.29
CFF-Photo 1.29

Photo 1.29. August 4, 1911, looking northeast across the deck of the Chicago & Alton Railroad bridge. The Lambert Station water tank is clearly visible, but the railroad workers and locomotive obscure the station house. Buildings in Sag Bridge village are in the background at right. (MWRD photo 4678)