Calumet: First and Forever

Chapter 2: Calumet-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River

Channel sections 12, 13, and 14

CFF-Photo 2.4.1
CFF-Photo 2.4.1

Photo 2.4.1. October 27, 1914, looking east from the west end of section 12. West of the gas plant in Blue Island, shown in the background, the channel right-of-way was sufficiently wide for use of draglines for excavation and deposition of spoil. (MWRD photo 5028)

CFF-Photo 2.4.2
CFF-Photo 2.4.2

Photo 2.4.2. September 10, 1915, looking northwest on section 12 toward Homan Avenue. About half of Byrne Brother’s contract included channel with a trapezoidal cross-section. Workers are placing rock riprap to armor the channel side slopes. The north pier of the Homan Avenue Bridge is under construction at left. (MWRD photo 5196)

CFF-Photo 2.4.3
CFF-Photo 2.4.3

Photo 2.4.3. September 10, 1915. A track-mounted rock drill for dynamite holes is viewed looking northwest from Kedzie Avenue. Rock, already broken by dynamite, is being moved by a steam shovel and an inclined hoist and tipple to the spoil pile. (MWRD photo 5198)

CFF-Photo 2.4.4
CFF-Photo 2.4.4

Photo 2.4.4. August 9, 1916, looking southeast, in section 12 at the Kedzie Avenue Bridge, where the channel transitions from a trapezoidal cross-section in the foreground to a rectangular cross-section east of Kedzie. The vertical walls east of Kedzie have not been completed. Byrne Brother’s pumping plant is at right. (MWRD photo 5529)

CFF-Photo 2.4.5
CFF-Photo 2.4.5

Photo 2.4.5. August 31, 1917. Forms have been stripped off the north wall. Rather than traveling forms, Byrne Brothers used fixed forms for wall construction in section 12. The darker concrete top of wall was cast after the lower part of the wall cured. Meanwhile, a cement mason is finishing the top of the south wall. (MWRD photo 6169)

CFF-Photo 2.4.6
CFF-Photo 2.4.6

Photo 2.4.6. May 5, 1920. Looking west toward the Francisco Avenue Bridge, District lawyers and police inspect the location where a boy drowned after diving into the water. The south wall stops at the east end of section 12. The wall will be completed after the B&O Railroad bridge, from which the photograph was taken, is completed. (MWRD photo 7516)v

CFF-Photo 2.4.7
CFF-Photo 2.4.7

Photo 2.4.7. East of the railroad crossing and gas plant at the west end of section 13, excavation of the channel was performed with limited right-of-way, as shown on May 23, 1917, looking west from the Western Avenue Bridge. The close proximity of Blue Island buildings is seen at right. (MWRD photo 5956)

CFF-Photo 2.4.8
CFF-Photo 2.4.8

Photo 2.4.8. June 4, 1917. Two weeks later, and again from the Western Avenue Bridge, a locomotive in the left background is pushing a string of loaded dump cars to the remote spoil area. Although the excavation appears to be head for the gas plant, the channel will go south thereof, slightly left of center. (MWRD photo 5967)

CFF-Photo 2.4.9
CFF-Photo 2.4.9

Photo 2.4.9. East of the Western Avenue and Rock Island Railroad bridges, a wider right-of-way was purchased through section 13. Fewer building were in close proximity of the channel, as shown on February 13, 1918, allowing some nearby spoil disposal. However, through Blue island, most spoil went to remote sites for disposal. (MWRD photo 6390)

CFF-Photo 2.4.10
CFF-Photo 2.4.10

Photo 2.4.10. September 16, 1920. Guthrie is constructing the wall south of the gas plant. Looking east from the Grand Trunk Railroad bridge, the Ann Street Bridge appears in the background. Most channel wall construction proceeded without delays. Bridge construction was often delayed by labor and material shortages caused by World Warr I. (MWRD photo 7837)

CFF-Photo 2.4.11
CFF-Photo 2.4.11

Photo 2.4.11. April 19, 1921. The progression of wall building begins with removing overburden down to bedrock and drilling holes for dynamite, which has been accomplished for the west end of section 13. The end of the walls in the background mark the east end of section 12. The Francisco Street Bridge is in the distance. (MWRD photo 8110)

CFF-Photo 2.4.12
CFF-Photo 2.4.12

Photo 2.4.12. April 19, 1921. To the east, just west of the B&O Railroad bridge, dynamite blasting has already occurred and rock removal is underway using a large steam shovel. Workers are pushing a flat car loaded with drill rods. The railroad bridge abutments will be backfilled after wall construction is complete. (MWRD photo 8111)

CFF-Photo 2.4.13
CFF-Photo 2.4.13

Photo 2.4.13. May 19, 1921. While the steam shovel is working in the background, a crew is busy in front of the broken rock, drilling holes and loading dynamite. After delays caused by WWI, construction is being expedited. The photographer caught the end of the south channel wall at the east end of section 12 in the right foreground. (MWRD photo 8198)

CFF-Photo 2.4.14
CFF-Photo 2.4.14

Photo 2.4.14. May 19, 1921. Drilling dynamite holes and blasting bedrock continues to the west end of section 13. A boiler and compressor are setup near the top of the wall in section 12 to supply compressed air to operate the drills. Fuel oil is supplied to the boiler from the storage tank setup on the north embankment. (MWRD photo 8200)

CFF-Photo 2.4.15
CFF-Photo 2.4.15

Photo 2.4.15. June 20, 1921. Rock removal is nearing completion at the west end of section 13, while wall construction follows close behind. This is the last of wall construction for the Calumet-Sag Channel. (MWRD photo 8242)

CFF-Photo 2.4.16
CFF-Photo 2.4.16

Photo 2.4.16. October 4, 1921. Looking west from the B&O Railroad bridge, wall construction has been completed in section 13, including backfill topped with neatly placed riprap. In the background, a track-mounted crane is assisting a crew of workers cleaning up debris in the section 12 channel bottom. (MWRD photo 8498)

CFF-Photo 2.4.17
CFF-Photo 2.4.17

Photo 2.4.17. May 3, 1917, looking east toward Ashland Avenue shows concrete wall construction in section 14. A thick concrete foundation slab was cast on sound bedrock. After the foundation cured, Guthrie used travelling forms for casting the concrete walls. A keyway, cut into the rock and cast in the top of the foundation, prevented lateral movement of the wall. (MWRD photo 5911)

CFF-Photo 2.4.18
CFF-Photo 2.4.18

Photo 2.4.18. May 3, 1917, looking west from the Ashland Avenue Bridge, showing both walls under construction. Concrete was mixed at a central plant and transported by rail to the traveling forms. Hoists on the traveler raised the concrete for placement in the wall form. The walls were cast in 50-foot segments. (MWRD photo 5912)

CFF-Photo 2.4.19
CFF-Photo 2.4.19

Photo 2.4.19. May 3, 1917. Closeup showing a wall form from the backside. Tie-rods hold the front and back forms in place as concrete is poured into the form. The rods remain in the wall after the concrete cures. A steam shovel in the background is cleaning the bedrock surface for the foundation slab. (MWRD photo 5910)

CFF-Photo 2.4.20
CFF-Photo 2.4.20

Photo 2.4.20. February 5, 1919. Construction work is idle in section 13. As soon as winter breaks, these completed walls east of Chicago Street in Blue Island will be backfilled, the spoil piles leveled, and the ground graded. These are the final steps in channel wall construction. (MWRD photo 6882)

CFF-Photo 2.4.21
CFF-Photo 2.4.21

Photo 2.4.21. February 9, 1917, looking west from the Ashland Avenue Bridge over section 14 shows the typical winter shutdown. Mixing and placing concrete in freezing weather was not allowed. (MWRD photo 5772)

CFF-Photo 2.4.22
CFF-Photo 2.4.22

Photo 2.4.22. Guthrie used this concrete mixing plant, shown on September 20, 1916, for both channel wall and lock construction in sections 13 and 14. The aggregate, sand, and Portland cement were delivered by rail cars on the trestle to hoppers in the plant. Mixed concrete was discharged into the buckets on small rail cars for transport to the travelling or fixed forms. (MWRD photo 5603)

CFF-Photo 2.4.23
CFF-Photo 2.4.23

Photo 2.4.23. April 6, 1916. Looking to the southwest, excavation for the lock is underway. Construction of the timber trestle served two purposes, to carry a railroad track for hauling spoil and to anchor a levee separating the Little Calumet River from the construction of the Blue Island Lock and channel walls. (MWRD photo 5436)

CFF-Photo 2.4.24
CFF-Photo 2.4.24

Photo 2.4.24. April 6, 1916. Looking east, Guthrie’s large steam shovel is loading dump cars on the track at left. As the locomotive and dump cars travel along the trestle in the background, spoil will be dumped to create a levee anchored by the trestle. After the levee is finished, the spoil will go to the disposal area south of Blue Island. (MWRD photo 5437)

CFF-Photo 2.4.25
CFF-Photo 2.4.25

Photo 2.4.25. April 6, 1916. Side dump cars were used for ease in dumping spoil along the trestle. Looking east, the Little Calumet River is in the right background. Side dump rail cars will be used by the District for grit, screenings and dried sludge when treatment plants are built in the next decade. (MWRD photo 5439)

CFF-Photo 2.4.26
CFF-Photo 2.4.26

Photo 2.4.26. October 8, 1917. Looking east from the bottom of the yet-to-be built lock chamber, channel walls are under construction leading to the Little Calumet River. The foot bridge sits atop two enlarged wall segments that are part of the east lock gate blocks. Each block will anchor and contain one lock sector gate. The foot bridge has no structural value with respect to the gate blocks, but is a convenience for workers to facilitate construction. (MWRD photo 6226)

CFF-Photo 2.4.27
CFF-Photo 2.4.27

Photo 2.4.27. November 13, 1917. Looking southeast from inside the lock chamber at the southeast gate block, the wooden formwork is in the gate recess. Each of the four lock sector gates rotates on a vertical axis. In the closed position, the gate rotates out into the lock chamber. The pivot of rotation is to the right of the wooden tower. The tower is used to distribute concrete when casting the block. (MWRD photo 6279)

CFF-Photo 2.4.28
CFF-Photo 2.4.28

Photo 2.4.28. In the open position, the gate rotates into a recess in the gate block. Looking northeast from above the formwork for the southeast gate block, November 13, 1917, the arc of the sector gate recess is at right, the radial of the sector is in the center foreground, and the pivot of gate rotation is left of center. (MWRD photo 6282)

CFF-Photo 2.4.29
CFF-Photo 2.4.29

Photo 2.4.29. October 8, 1917, looking northwest from the channel bottom at the northwest lock gate upper and lower hinge brackets. Most of the gate recess is out of view to the right. The brackets are anchored into the concrete radial wall of the gate recess where the radial wall meets the lock chamber wall. The lock chamber wall is on the left. (MWRD photo 6229)

CFF-Photo 2.4.30
CFF-Photo 2.4.30

Photo 2.4.30. October 8, 1917, looking northeast from the channel bottom at the arc wall of the lock sector gate recess of the northwest lock gate, the hinge brackets are at left. The gate is driven by a mechanism that will be mounted near the top of the arc wall at the intersection with the lock chamber wall at right. A flexible gate seal will be mounted along this vertical intersection. (MWRD photo 6230)

CFF-Photo 2.4.31
CFF-Photo 2.4.31

Photo 2.4.31. October 8, 1917. Looking east from the channel bottom, the foot bridge near the east lock gates is partially visible. A timber framework has been installed in the lock chamber to support a stiff-leg derrick that will be used to erect the two west lock sector gates. (MWRD photo 6231)

CFF-Photo 2.4.32
CFF-Photo 2.4.32

Photo 2.4.32. November 13, 1917. The west lock sector gates have been erected and work is proceeding on the east lock gates in the background. The access road bridge has also been erected overhead, spanning between the north and south walls west of the west lock gates. (MWRD photo 6277)

CFF-Photo 2.4.33
CFF-Photo 2.4.33

Photo 2.4.33. November 13, 1917, looking west through the west lock sector gates. The northwest gate has been completed and steel plates are being installed on the face of the southwest gate. The design of the Blue Island Lock was a precursor to the lock at the Chicago River Controlling Works built two decades later. (MWRD photo 6278)

CFF-Photo 2.4.34
CFF-Photo 2.4.34

Photo 2.4.34. October 8, 1917. The formwork at right for the Calumet Plant and intercepting sewer outfall structure is located immediately west of the lock chamber and built into the north channel wall. In this southeast facing view from atop a spoil pile, the top of the derrick for west lock gate construction appears above the form work and, in the distance, the foot bridge rises above the top of the lock wall. (MWRD photo 6232)

CFF-Photo 2.4.36
CFF-Photo 2.4.36

Photo 2.4.35. October 13, 1921. The west lock gates are nearing completion. Near the top of the upstream gate face, the attached rack is part of the gate operating mechanism. The rack is driven by a pinion gear and reducing gear system mounted in the wall of the gate recess. An electrical motor powers the gears. Several men are standing above the wet weather discharge outfall in the center background. (MWRD photo 8509)

2.4.36 MWRD 8502 90,104
2.4.36 MWRD 8502 90,104

Photo 2.4.36. Timbers have been installed on the upper part of the downstream face of the lock gates as a buffer for barges or boats entering or leaving the lock chamber. Within a year the channel and lock will be in operation, opening a new era of commercial navigation between the Illinois River and the Calumet industrial district. (MWRD photo 8502)

CFF-Photo 2.4.37
CFF-Photo 2.4.37

Photo 2.4.37. July 31, 1918. Two openings for the Calumet Plant and intercepting sewer discharge chamber for wet weather overflow to the channel have been cast into the north channel wall west of the west lock gates. Dry weather flow is discharged through ports in the channel bottom to minimize disruption to navigation traffic. (MWRD photo 6591)

CFF-Photo 2.4.38
CFF-Photo 2.4.38

Photo 2.4.38. October 13, 1921. Looking west from the Blue Island Lock, road access bridge on channel walls, including the lie-by, are complete. Debris and sediment in the channel will be cleared out by a contractor. The wet weather discharge outfall is in the right foreground. (MWRD photo 8501)

CFF-Photo 2.4.39
CFF-Photo 2.4.39

Photo 2.4.39. October 8, 1917. Closeup of the northeast wall looking from the channel bottom. The wall is near its east end. The survey station marked on the wall, 846+00, is 84,600-feet, or 16-miles from the west end of the Calumet-Sag Channel. This point is already past the east end of the south wall. (MWRD photo 6228)

CFF-Photo 2.4.4
CFF-Photo 2.4.4

Photo 2.4.40. July 31, 1918. Looking east from the north end of the foot bridge over the northeast and southeast walls shows backfilling of the southeast wall in progress. The steam shovel is loading dump cars with soil from the west side of the levee. The loaded cars are moved to the top of the wall where dark soil covers the rock backfill. (MWRD photo 6589)

CFF-Photo 2.4.41
CFF-Photo 2.4.41

Photo 2.4.41. November 13, 1917. From atop the levee along the Little Calumet River looking southwest along the levee. The northeast wall is nearly complete at right. The pilings in the levee, once part of the railroad trestle, will be extracted when the levee is removed. (MWRD photo 6281)

CFF-Photo 2.4.42
CFF-Photo 2.4.42

Photo 2.4.42. November 13, 1917, looking southwest from atop a spoil pile over the northeast wall, toward the curve of the southeast wall, which is partly hidden by the levee. The Little Calumet River is behind the levee at left and the Blue Island Lock is under construction at right. (MWRD photo 6280)

CFF-Photo 2.4.43
CFF-Photo 2.4.43

Photo 2.4.43. October 8, 1917, looking northeast from atop a spoil pile over the curve in the southeast wall, toward the northeast wall in the left background. The southeast wall does a full 180-degree bend to end deep in the future Little Calumet River bank. (MWRD photo 6227)

CFF-Photo 2.4.44
CFF-Photo 2.4.44

Photo 2.4.44. February 13, 1918. Looking east from the Blue Island Lock foot bridge, the two east walls are complete. The northeast wall extends 0.2-miles farther east and curves north into the Little Calumet River bank. The southeast wall curves south and will define the river bank when the levee holding back the river is removed. (MWRD photo 6385)

CFF-Photo 2.4.45
CFF-Photo 2.4.45

Photo 2.4.45. By late winter in 1922, removal began of the levee separating the Little Calumet River and the Calumet-Sag Channel. Looking southwest from the north spoil bank, on March 9, 1922, a dragline is excavating the levee and pulling piles. Lighting along the channel wall will be installed on poles mounted on pedestals, like the one in the right foreground. (MWRD photo 8793)

CFF-Photo 2.4.46
CFF-Photo 2.4.46

Photo 2.4.46. The hole in the south channel wall at Division Street in Blue Island, shown on March 14, 1922, will be for a sewer outfall. The Public Service Company of Northern Illinois constructed a gas main tunnel along the south side of the channel. A short connecting sewer and the outfall will provide needed drainage for the tunnel. (MWRD photo 8814)