Calumet: First and Forever

Chapter 2: Calumet-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River

Channel sections 4 through 11

CFF-Photo 2.3.1
CFF-Photo 2.3.1

Photo 2.3.1. December 6, 1911. Looking west, bluffs in the Palos area appear in the left background. Forschner, the section 4 contractor, excavated the North Drainage Ditch at right and built the levee at left to prevent flooding of channel construction. The District didn’t require levee construction, but Forschner was being cautious. (MWRD photo 4716)

CFF-Photo 2.3.2
CFF-Photo 2.3.2

Photo 2.3.2. July 3, 1912, looking southwest across the North Drainage Ditch near Bach Road. Even before the placement of spoil, the banks of nearby drainage ditches would develop stress cracks and slide downhill. Despite the excavation of drainage ditches, the groundwater level in section 4 through 8 remained high. (MWRD photo 4746)

CFF-Photo 2.3.3
CFF-Photo 2.3.3

Photo 2.3.3. July 3, 1912. Excavation caused lateral movement of unstable moist soil, leaving deep crevasses. The crevasse shown is typical of others found through most of section 4. Unstable soils were an ongoing problem and the District had to grant additional funds to several contractors for hauling spoil to more distant suitable disposal sites. (MWRD photo 4750)

CFF-Photo 2.3.4
CFF-Photo 2.3.4

Photo 2.3.4. September 3, 1912, looking east. Forschner’s excavator has reached the east end of section 4, completing the first cut. The long boom shown allows the excavator to cast the spoil far from the edge of the excavation. (MWRD photo 4762)

CFF-Photo 2.3.5
CFF-Photo 2.3.5

Photo 2.3.5. The building sign at left identifies the office of T. J. Forschner Const. Co. Forschner purchased or rented this space in 1911 in the Village of Worth after award of the contract for section 4. Steam-powered tractors are towing the boom for an excavating machine past the office. (Undated photo courtesy of the Worth Historical Museum)

CFF-Photo 2.3.6
CFF-Photo 2.3.6

Photo 2.3.6. June 21, 1916, looking east from Bach Road at the finished section 4 channel. The trapezoidal cross-section channel side slopes have been paved with hand-placed rock riprap to resist erosion and stabilize the slope. (MWRD photo 5483)

CFF-Photo 2.3.7
CFF-Photo 2.3.7

Photo 2.3.7. Green & Sons Company, the contractor for sections 5, 6, 7 and 8, was a well-known Chicago contractor of the time. This photograph, looking northwest from the top of a spoil pile, was perhaps taken by Green for publicity purposes. Actually, a bridge was not built at Ladies Lane, a.k.a. Eighty-Second Avenue. Instead, it was built at Eighty-Sixth Avenue. (Undated photo courtesy of the Worth Historical Museum)

CFF-Photo 2.3.8
CFF-Photo 2.3.8

Photo 2.3.8. December 31, 1912. From the east end of section 5, looking west, Green appears to have made good progress by the end of the first construction season. Green used an electrically-powered dragline excavator on section 5, running a one-mile transmission line to a substation in Worth. (MWRD photo 4777)

CFF-Photo 2.3.9
CFF-Photo 2.3.9

Photo 2.3.9. November 25, 1913. Nearly one year later, looking east near the east end of section 5, the excavation is wider, but not to the required depth. Poor soils were found in the designated spoil area and Green acquired railroad track and equipment to move the spoil farther to where stable soils were found. (MWRD photo 4859)

CFF-Photo 2.3.10
CFF-Photo 2.3.10

Photo 2.3.10. Armoring the channel side slope with hand-placed rock riprap began on the north bank at the west end of section 5. Spoil could be disposed closer to the channel and, by November 25, 1913, Green was excavating rock to the required depth, providing rock riprap. The wheeled steam shovel was able to move on the rock surface without railroad track. (MWRD photo 4862)

CFF-Photo 2.3.11
CFF-Photo 2.3.11

Photo 2.3.11. September 8, 1915. Looking west on section 5 from Ladies Lane, Green has completed armoring the channel banks for most of the section. The proximity of spoil to the channel indicates that no problems with unstable soils were encountered for this stretch east of McLaughry Road. (MWRD photo 5179)

CFF-Photo 2.3.12
CFF-Photo 2.3.12

Photo 2.3.12. August 19, 1918. After Green completed the contract, overflow from the Calumet Feeder in section 5 was flowing toward the completed channel and causing erosion and side slope failure. To arrest the overflow, Heyworth, the District’s contractor handling drainage, installed 900-feet of Wakefield piling across the low area. (MWRD photo 6604)

CFF-Photo 2.3.13
CFF-Photo 2.3.13

Photo 2.3.13. October 6, 1914. Looking west on section 8 from Pipers Road, the District’s boat is cruising a recently dredged channel, that is much wider than the new channel will be. To remove the unsuitable soil, peat, and marsh, Green used a hydraulic dredge on sections 6, 7 and 8 so the channel could be constructed. How the District’s boat got to this point was not explained. (MWRD photo 5014)

CFF-Photo 2.3.14
CFF-Photo 2.3.14

Photo 2.3.14. December 7, 1915, looking west from the Wabash Railroad embankment north of the new channel at the north spoil disposal area. Green prepared this large area by building an enveloping levee to contain the slurry from hydraulic dredging of marsh areas along the route of the new channel. (MWRD photo 5283.2)

CFF-Photo 2.3.15
CFF-Photo 2.3.15

Photo 2.3.15. July 6, 1916, looking east from the Wabash Railroad, at the east end of section 6 and beginning of section 7. Two draglines are excavating the overburden after dewatering the area cleared by hydraulic dredging. (MWRD photo 5488)

CFF-Photo 2.3.16
CFF-Photo 2.3.16

Photo 2.3.16. The unstable soils in nearby spoil areas in section 8 could not contain all the overburden. Spoil from deeper excavation using a steam shovel was hauled by rail to more distant spoil areas, shown here looking east from Piper Road. (MWRD photo 5547)

CFF-Photo 2.3.17
CFF-Photo 2.3.17

Photo 2.3.17. July 6, 1916, looking west from Piper Road after pumping the water out of the dredged section 8 channel. Deeper channel excavation in this reach will require hauling to more distant spoil areas due to nearby unstable soil. (MWRD photo 5494)

CFF-Photo 2.3.18
CFF-Photo 2.3.18

Photo 2.3.18. September 25, 1916, looking west from the Wabash Railroad over section 6. Pumping out the water and excavation of overburden is nearly complete. Rock removal to the required bottom elevation can begin. In the right background, side slope armoring has been completed. (MWRD photo 5612)

CFF-Photo 2.3.19
CFF-Photo 2.3.19

Photo 2.3.19. October 5, 1914. Steam-powered drills are being used for dynamite holes, at the west end of section 6. Looking east from the end berm, three dragline excavators in the background can be used for channel excavation because timber cribs are being successfully used to contain spoil disposed on unstable soils. (MWRD photo 4973)

CFF-Photo 2.3.20
CFF-Photo 2.3.20

Photo 2.3.20. September 20, 1916. Green’s hydraulic dredge, used in sections 6, 7 and 8, is being dismantled. The dredge could not be floated to any other location since the canal was not complete. Whatever could be salvaged was hauled to the railroad depot in Worth for transit elsewhere. (MWRD photo 5600)

CFF-Photo 2.3.21
CFF-Photo 2.3.21

Photo 2.3.21. March 21, 1919, looking west from the Worth Road Bridge. Section 7 is complete and filled with water. The Wabash Railroad bridge appears in the background. Having water in the channel reduces the risk of side slope failures and the cost of continual pumping. (MWRD photo 6928)

CFF-Photo 2.3.22
CFF-Photo 2.3.22

Photo 2.3.22. August 19, 1918. Upon completion of channel construction, lateral drainage from areas along the top of channel banks was relieved into the channel by a series of outfalls. This outfall in section 8 is typical. (MWRD photo 6607)

CFF-Photo 2.3.23
CFF-Photo 2.3.23

Photo 2.3.23. March 21, 1919. View showing washout of the south channel bank about 500 feet east of the Wabash Railroad bridge in section 7. This wash out appears to have been caused by overflow of floodwater, but most side slope failures were caused by unstable subsoil. Although channel bank side slope failures occurred throughout sections 4 through 12, most of the failures occurred in sections 11 and 12. (MWRD photo 6932)

CFF-Photo 2.3.24
CFF-Photo 2.3.24

Photo 2.3.24. October 6, 1914. Byrne Brothers, contractor on section 9, is using a steam shovel to clear the channel and a steam-powered hoist to pull loaded hoppers up the tipple, where the hopper will trip, dumping the load of spoil on the north bank. (MWRD photo 5009)

CFF-Photo 2.3.25
CFF-Photo 2.3.25

Photo 2.3.25. September 10, 1915, looking west on section 9. While removing rock from the channel bottom and armoring the side slope with rock riprap, Byrne Brothers also had to repair a slope failure in the north channel bank that happened just this side of the excavator. (MWRD photo 5185)

CFF-Photo 2.3.26
CFF-Photo 2.3.26

Photo 2.3.26. June 5, 1919. This elaborate appearing outfall for Tinley Creek enters the Calumet-Sag Channel in section 9 west of the Burr Oak Road crossing. Looking south, two of three weirs are visible. Three weirs were necessary because of the steep stream gradient. The new channel is lower than the marsh into which the creek originally drained. (MWRD photo 7106)

CFF-Photo 2.3.27
CFF-Photo 2.3.27

Photo 2.3.27. August 10, 1917, looking southwest from the north bank of the channel at a low berm in the channel bottom separating sections 9 and 10. An east wind has pushed floating debris against the berm. The berm will be removed when all pumping is handled in section 1. (MWRD photo 6125)

CFF-Photo 2.3.28
CFF-Photo 2.3.28

Photo 2.3.28. October 6, 1914. Two dragline excavators are busy near the east end of Schnable and Quinn’s contract for section 10. Two channeling machines in the background are cutting into rock to achieve the required depth of channel. Looking west, spoil piles are within easy casting distance for the draglines. (MWRD photo 5004)

CFF-Photo 2.3.29
CFF-Photo 2.3.29

Photo 2.3.29. February 9, 1917. The pumping plant in section 10 viewed from the Forty-Eighth Avenue Bridge. Pumping throughout winter was necessary to prevent delays from having to wait for the ice to thaw in the spring. (MWRD photo 5767)

CFF-Photo 2.3.30
CFF-Photo 2.3.30

Photo 2.3.30. August 9, 1916, looking west from Homan Avenue over section 11. Armoring the south bank is completed and the pumping plant is discharging to the South Drainage Ditch. (MWRD photo 5525)

CFF-Photo 2.3.31
CFF-Photo 2.3.31

Photo 2.3.31. September 10, 1915. Heyworth’s electrically powered dragline on section 11 was typical of this progressive contractor. Looking southwest, the dragline is trimming the channel side slope prior to laying hand placed rock riprap to armor the slope. (MWRD photo 5192)

CFF-Photo 2.3.32
CFF-Photo 2.3.32

Photo 2.3.32. February 11, 1919. Looking northeast, District carpenters are building the dam. A new temporary dam was built under the Forty-Eighth Avenue Bridge to replace the dam at Kedzie Avenue so sections 11 and 12 could be dewatered for repair of side slope failures. (MWRD photo 6893)

CFF-Photo 2.3.33
CFF-Photo 2.3.33

Photo 2.3.33. February 11, 1919. The bridge substructure with near vertical side walls and solid wing walls was an ideal location for the dam. The two flap gates at the base of the dam will be closed when the dam is placed in service and the downstream channel is again flooded. (MWRD photo 6894)

CFF-Photo 2.3.34
CFF-Photo 2.3.34

Photo 2.3.34. February 11, 1919. Looking southwest, the framework beneath the solid face of the dam is visible. The hoist beneath the bridge provided a means of access for workers and materials to reach the dam when water covered the downstream face. The District had to post a police officer 24/7 at this location to deter vandalism. (MWRD photo 6895)

CFF-Photo 2.3.35
CFF-Photo 2.3.35

Photo 2.3.35. Nine months later, on November 28, 1920, the western portion of the new channel is filled with water. Looking northeast from the south bank, the dam is effective in keeping the eastern portion of the new channel dry to repair failed side slopes. (MWRD photo 7938)

CFF-Photo 2.3.36
CFF-Photo 2.3.36

Photo 2.3.36. November 28, 1920. Looking northwest from the south bank, shows boards added at the top of the dam to increase the dam’s height. The additional height was needed to keep wind generated waves from washing over the dam. (MWRD photo 7939)

CFF-Photo 2.3.37
CFF-Photo 2.3.37

Photo 2.3.37. December 3, 1920. Looking southwest from the north bank, the discharge pipes convey water to the North Drainage Ditch. This floating pumping plant anchored under the Homan Avenue Bridge was used to dewater the channel east of the dam at Forty-Eighth Avenue. (MWRD photo 7944)

CFF-Photo 2.3.38
CFF-Photo 2.3.38

Photo 2.3.38. Slope failures hundreds of feet long were common in section 11, as shown on June 3, 1921, looking east from the north bank. The subsoil supporting riprap was unstable and the entire face of riprap and some subsoil would slide down into the channel invert, as shown to the right of center. (MWRD photo 8206)

CFF-Photo 2.3.39
CFF-Photo 2.3.39

Photo 2.3.39. Draglines were used to clear debris out of the channel invert and to trim the side slopes, as shown on November 22, 1921. Where necessary, unstable soil was removed and replaced with stable soil, before armoring the slope with hand placed rock riprap. The rock wall to the right of center was built to support the toe of the slope where bedrock occurred above the channel bottom. (MWRD photo 8649.1)

CFF-Photo 2.3.40
CFF-Photo 2.3.40

Photo 2.3.40. Hand placing the rock riprap was labor intensive and time consuming, as shown on December 9, 1921, about halfway down the north slope of the channel looking west. Large flat-sided rock, used to face the slope was supported by hand placed smaller rock. Prybars were used to chink small rock under or between larger rocks. (MWRD photo 8695)

CFF-Photo 2.3.41
CFF-Photo 2.3.41

Photo 2.3.41. July 12, 1922. Seven months later work continues repairing the side slopes in section 11. Looking southwest, a crew continues work on the north channel side slope while the south channel bank is nearly complete. (MWRD photo 9253)

CFF-Photo 2.3.42
CFF-Photo 2.3.42

Photo 2.3.42. July 12, 1922. Looking northeast, toward the Homan Avenue Bridge, work remains to finish the upper part of the north channel side slope. A District engineer walks along the toe of the riprap inspecting the quality of the contractor’s work. The footbridge in the foreground will enable the engineer to cross over and inspect the south channel side slope. (MWRD photo 9258)