Calumet: First and Forever

Chapter 2: Calumet-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River

Channel Sections 1, 2, and 3, Photos 135

(photos 36–69 here)

CCF-Photo 2.2.1
CCF-Photo 2.2.1

Photo 2.2.1. January 18, 1910. Looking west toward Archer Road along the Calumet Feeder. Buildings in Sag Bridge along the road in the distance are about one-half mile upstream of the confluence of the feeder with the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The railroad water tank at Lambert Station is in center background. (MWRD photo 4274)

CCF-Photo 2.2.2
CCF-Photo 2.2.2

Photo 2.2.2. January 18, 1910. Looking east along the Calumet Feeder from a point east of the Archer Road crossing. The broad flat Sag Valley lies between Mount Forest Island at left and the Palos Bluffs at right background. Work began in 1909 to clean out the feeder to improve drainage for channel construction and work will resume after the spring thaw. (MWRD photo 4275)

CCF-Photo 2.2.3
CCF-Photo 2.2.3

Photo 2.2.3. September 3, 1912. An early priority for channel excavation contractors was to establish a camp for construction workers. Robinson Company’s camp in section 3 is viewed from the South Feeder Road, looking northeast. An excavator is at work in the background. (MWRD photo 4764)

CCF-Photo 2.2.4
CCF-Photo 2.2.4

Photo 2.2.4. July 3, 1912. Winston Company, contractor for section 2, was using their dragline excavator to remove unconsolidated overburden above bedrock. Spoil piles are generally close to the channel in sections 1, 2, and 3 because the soils were stable in the thin mantle of overburden above bedrock. (MWRD photo 4752)

CCF-Photo 2.2.5
CCF-Photo 2.2.5

Photo 2.2.5. Robinson, contractor on section 3, was not so fortunate. Their excavator fell below ground when the supporting soils moved laterally into a drainage ditch. Using a grillage of timbers, workers are trying to extricate the machine, December 31, 1912. (MWRD photo4782)

CCF-Photo 2.2.6
CCF-Photo 2.2.6

Photo 2.2.6. December 31, 1912. Upon closer view, the prospect of success seems hopeless. Jacking against the timbers pushes them deeper into the ground. Eventually, firmer strata or bedrock will be reached. The machine has to be jacked up enough to reattach the wheel trucks and lay track before the it can be moved. (MWRD photo 4783)

CCF-Photo 2.2.7
CCF-Photo 2.2.7

Photo 2.2.7. September 3, 1912. Excavation of overburden is nearly complete in section 2. Looking east, water covers exposed bedrock until the bedrock surface rises above the water. Spoil piles in the left background are farther from the channel on firmer ground. (MWRD photo 4775)

CCF-Photo 2.2.8
CCF-Photo 2.2.8

Photo 2.2.8. September 3, 1912. A drainage sump and pump has been installed on section 2 to remove excess water. Also, two channeling machines are cutting slots on the bedrock 60-feet apart to define the vertical face of the channel’s rock walls. (MWRD photo 4769)

CCF-Photo 2.2.9
CCF-Photo 2.2.9

Photo 2.2.9. July 3, 1912. The channeling machines began at the west end of section 2 as excavation of overburden continued farther east. Once the rock is excavated, concrete walls will be built on the bedrock to bring the walls up to the required elevation. (MWRD photo 4751)

CCF-Photo 2.2.10
CCF-Photo 2.2.10

Photo 2.2.10. September 3, 1912. Track-mounted steam-powered drills are used next to drill holes in the rock for dynamite. Drill holes were slightly deeper than the required channel bottom elevation to account for heaving of the bedrock when the weight of rock and overburden is removed. Looking northeast, Mount Forest Island appears in the background. (MWRD photo 4768)

CCF-Photo 2.2.11
CCF-Photo 2.2.11

Photo 2.2.11. September 7, 1915. Puffs of steam from the drills appear in the background on section 1. The steam is generated in the boilers on the north bank of the channel. In the foreground, bunches of straw are packed in each hole after placing dynamite in the hole bottom to concentrate the blast horizontally. (MWRD photo 5149)

CCF-Photo 2.2.12
CCF-Photo 2.2.12

Photo 2.2.12. September 3, 1912. A carefully controlled explosion on section 2 left a field of broken rock about 10-feet deep. Remarkably, the track was not broken and can be used to move equipment. In the background, channeling machines continue working to the east. (MWRD photo 4767)

CCF-Photo 2.2.13
CCF-Photo 2.2.13

Photo 2.2.13. December 31, 1912, looking west in section 2, a steam shovel is loading broken rock into dump cars to be hauled to the spoil area south of the channel. The spoil remained in this area until the 1950s when it was moved farther south to widen the channel. (MWRD photo 4789)

CCF-Photo 2.2.14
CCF-Photo 2.2.14

Photo 2.2.14. December 31, 1912. A small locomotive hauls the string of dump cars to the spoil area. The double track and switch allow a string of empty dump cars to be waiting and backed next to the steam shovel as the loaded cars head for the spoil area. The channeling machine is cutting the rock wall face for the next layer of rock removal. (MWRD photo 4788)

CCF-Photo 2.2.15
CCF-Photo 2.2.15

Photo 2.2.15. January 3, 1914, looking east, rock removal on the south wall has been completed while on the north side, drilled holes have been charged with dynamite and stuffed with straw. Work continues through milder winters and in the year since the prior photograph, progress is evident. The steam shovel waits to load broken rock into dump cars. (MWRD photo 4897)

CCF-Photo 2.2.16
CCF-Photo 2.2.16

Photo 2.2.16. January 3, 1914. From down in the cut, while rock loading continues, the north wall face is relatively smooth, a product of the channeling machine. A concrete wall must be constructed on top of the rock to raise the top of the wall to the desired elevation, (MWRD photo 4898)

CCF-Photo 2.2.17
CCF-Photo 2.2.17

Photo 2.2.17. January 3, 1914. Wet snow and mild temperatures often result in broken rock freezing together when the temperature dips below freezing overnight. Steam is being injected into the mass of broken rock in front of the steam shovel here to thaw the ice bond, making the steam shovel’s work easier. (MWRD photo 4900)

CCF-Photo 2.2.18
CCF-Photo 2.2.18

Photo 2.2.18. October 5, 1914, looking east, rock removal is complete in section 2, leaving smooth walls and a flat bottom. A pumping plant on the south wall in the distance is keeping the excavated channel well drained. (MWRD photo 4992)

CCF-Photo 2.2.19
CCF-Photo 2.2.19

Photo 2.2.19. September 8, 1915. Since spring, casting the concrete wall on top of the bedrock wall in section 2 has been underway. Forms are being constructed in the foreground, while beyond, concrete is poured from the mixer into the forms. At right, loads of aggregate and Portland cement await being loaded into the mixer. A pumping plant emits a puff of steam along the south wall in the distance. (MWRD photo 5158)

CCF-Photo 2.2.20
CCF-Photo 2.2.20

Photo 2.2.20. September 8, 1915. Track-mounted movable forms are used on section 2. (Movable forms are used where possible to speed the concrete wall casting process.) Workers are tilting the form away from the wall so it can be moved to the next segment of wall. At left, the south concrete wall has been completed. (MWRD photo 5159)

CCF-Photo 2.2.21
CCF-Photo 2.2.21

Photo 2.2.21. September 8, 1915, looking west from the east end of section 2, both north and south walls are complete. The south wall has been backfilled, while the same awaits the north wall. Having completed the section, Winston compensated Heyworth, contractor on section 1, to handle the pumping of drainage water in the channel. (MWRD photo 5160)

CCF-Photo 2.2.22
CCF-Photo 2.2.22

Photo 2.2.22. September 25, 1916. Vertical walls extended about 1,000-feet into section 3, at which point the channel transitioned to a trapezoidal cross-section. Bedrock was higher from this point to the west and deeper to the east. (MWRD photo 5620)

CCF-Photo 2.2.23
CCF-Photo 2.2.23

Photo 2.2.23. May 17, 1916. The plant, one-quarter mile west of the Archer Road bridge, shown in the background, is nearly complete. The discharge pipe is configured to go above the top of the yet-to-be constructed wall. Heyworth built this pumping plant to serve sections 1 through 12. (MWRD photo 5460)

CCF-Photo 2.2.24
CCF-Photo 2.2.24

Photo 2.2.24. June 24, 1918. The vertical walls were built upon a monolithic concrete footing. Forms were constructed for the footing after the bedrock was determined to be sound and after any bedrock voids were filled with concrete. The wall was cast using travelling forms, with concrete coming by rail from a central mixing plant. (MWRD photo 6536)

CCF-Photo 2.2.25
CCF-Photo 2.2.25

Photo 2.2.25. October 14, 1918, looking east from the Sanitary & Ship Canal wall along the line of the north Calumet-Sag Channel wall, remaining rocks at the toe of the excavation must be removed before the wall foundation can be constructed. Constructing both walls simultaneously was more efficient. (MWRD photo 6682)

CCF-Photo 2.2.26
CCF-Photo 2.2.26

Photo 2.2.26. August 19, 1918. From behind the north channel wall, looking west on a dragline, is excavating where the south wall will be constructed. The large excavated area right of center, called the turning basin, is where the new channel will connect to the Sanitary & Ship Canal. The earthen embankment in the right background supports the existing canal wall. (MWRD photo 6603)

CCF-Photo 2.2.27
CCF-Photo 2.2.27

Photo 2.2.27. December 16, 1918, looking west along the south channel wall from the first railroad bridge, a dragline is reaching across the channel to backfill the void behind the wall. In the foreground, some sections of the top of the wall remain to be completed. The pipe over the wall discharges local drainage from this area of construction. (MWRD photo 6758)

CCF-Photo 2.2.28
CCF-Photo 2.2.28

Photo 2.2.28. September 23, 1918. Two earthmovers are at work. At left, the dragline is moving spoil, while at right, a steam shovel is moving material from the north berm for backfilling the north channel wall. The Sanitary & Ship Canal is about 500-feet distant in the background, near the power poles. (MWRD photo 6662)

CCF-Photo 2.2.29
CCF-Photo 2.2.29

Photo 2.2.29. February 11, 1919. The south wall west of the railroad bridge has been completed. Also about this time, a temporary earth fill east of the railroad bridge allowed the channel to the east to begin filling with drainage water. The pumping plant in the foreground maintained drainage for the construction area west of the railroad bridge. (MWRD photo 6892)

CCF-Photo 2.2.30
CCF-Photo 2.2.30

Photo 2.2.30. December 22, 1916, the south levee. A levee was constructed across the I&M Canal both north and south of the channel during channel construction. The I&M Canal crossed the channel between the railroad and the turning basin. The I&M Canal appears above the levee in the center. (MWRD photo 5737)

CCF-Photo 2.2.31
CCF-Photo 2.2.31

Photo 2.2.31. November 19, 1917. The I&M Canal appears above the north levee. The canal wasn’t needed for navigation since the Sanitary & Ship Canal was available. The levees maintained the water level in the canal and kept I&M Canal water out of the channel construction area. (MWRD photo 6285)

CCF-Photo 2.2.32
CCF-Photo 2.2.32

Photo 2.2.32. June 24, 1918. Where the new channel crossed the I&M Canal in section 1, wall construction accommodated the canal with these openings to allow free flow of water. Forms must be removed from the north wall and more concrete must be poured to complete the south wall as more wall construction continues to the west. (MWRD photo 6533.5)

CCF-Photo 2.2.33
CCF-Photo 2.2.33

Photo 2.2.33. March 28, 1919. Looking east along the north channel wall, the openings for the I&M Canal to the south in the south wall appears at right. In the distant background, the bridge for the Chicago and Alton Railroad crosses the channel; to the left of the bridge is the water tank at Lambert Station. (MWRD photo 6945)

CCF-Photo 2.2.35
CCF-Photo 2.2.35

Photo 2.2.34. April 5, 1919. From the south levee blocking the I&M Canal looking northeast, openings in both channel walls for the I&M Canal appear in the foreground. Behind the north wall is the north levee blocking the canal to restrict flow from the north. The canal appears above the levee in the background to the right of center. (MWRD photo 6965)

2.2.35 MWRD 6966 1919_0405_6966_082,165.
2.2.35 MWRD 6966 1919_0405_6966_082,165.

Photo 2.2.35. April 5, 1919. Both levees blocking the I&M Canal have been breached, allowing water in the canal to drain freely into the new channel. The breach in the north levee and the flow of water appears to the right of center. (MWRD photo 6966)