Draining Chicago

Chapter 3 Photos, 1–22

(photos 23–44 here and 45–68 here)

North Shore Channel

DC-Photo 3.1
DC-Photo 3.1

The National Brick Company buildings south of Howard Street are viewed from the west side of their clay pit looking southeast. The clay pit in the foreground excavated by National Brick will become part of the North Shore Channel. The railroad tracks and wooden incline are used to transport excavated clay into the building for making bricks. The long kiln shed in the left background continues to be used by multiple tenants to the present time. (MWRD photo 3762)

DC-Photo 3.2
DC-Photo 3.2

After a wet, late winter, March 6, 1908. The flooded farm fields between Pratt and Touhy Avenues looking southwest from the North Shore Channel route. The property owners, sisters Mary E. and Julia P. Turner, lived in the house on the left. Wet farm fields were frequent throughout the area along the north-south route of the eventual channel. (MWRD photo 3861)

DC-Photo 3.3
DC-Photo 3.3

Looking north from Oakton Street along the east line of recently acquired property for the channel shows flooded farm fields. The twin towers in the distance belong to the Fanning Company, a contractor excavating the channel near Main Street. The fence in the foreground marks the west right-of-way of the Chicago & North Western railroad Mayfair Division line, and the water tank and trestle on the right are part of the Weber rail yard north of Oakton Street. (MWRD photo 4079)

DC-Photo 3.4
DC-Photo 3.4

Looking north from Foster Avenue in Chicago, April 19, 1909. A flooded slough—the former and mostly filled-in Big Ditch. Channel excavation had not yet begun in this area and the view shows the occasionally wooded areas along the channel route. The farm field to the right lies fallow. (MWRD photo 4075)

DC-Photo 3.5
DC-Photo 3.5

July 12, 1909. Compared to Photograph 3.4, the slough north of Foster Avenue is not flooded; the trees are foliated; and the farm field has been cultivated. The narrow water-filled channel is what is left of the Big Ditch. The farm field to the right may be part of the Budlong Pickle Company. (MWRD photo 4113)

DC-Photo 3.6
DC-Photo 3.6

May 9, 1908. The sweeping shoreline of Lake Michigan is visible to the north from crib wall #1. The crib wall was built out into the lake adjacent to the cut in the bluff for the channel to contain spoil from channel excavation in Evanston and Wilmette. Few homes are located along what is presently Michigan Avenue at the top of the natural lakefront bluff. (MWRD photo 3863)

DC-Photo 3.7
DC-Photo 3.7

Sept. 21, 1908. The landfill is not only used for the disposal of excavated spoil, but also for storage of materials as seen in this view from the temporary Sheridan Rd. trestle. A dinkie locomotive is pulling a string of dump cars around a loop of track after disposal of excavation spoil. Barges and work boats in the stilling basin are used for construction and maintenance of the crib walls. Crib wall #1 extends into the lake in three segments, following a dog-leg pattern. (MWRD photo 3908)

DC-Photo 3.8
DC-Photo 3.8

September 8, 1909. A dredge is at work in the stilling basin along with other work boats in this northeast view from the Sheridan Road trestle. Clay dredged from the bottom has been stockpiled pending loading onto scows for placement in the landfill or towed to a disposal area in the lake. Two sail boats are moored along crib wall #2, foretelling the future use of the stilling basin. (MWRD photo 4224)

DC-Photo 3.9
DC-Photo 3.9

June 6, 1910. The lakefront landfill is still growing, but at a slower pace now that most channel excavation has been completed. Machines on the landfill are grading the surface. The temporary trestle for Sheridan Road, formerly at left, has been removed and traffic rerouted over the Linden Avenue Bridge. To the right of center, an earthen embankment keeps water in the stilling basin from the excavation for the pumping station, which is in progress north of the large tree. (MWRD photo 4389)

DC-Photo 3.10
DC-Photo 3.10

September 12, 1920. A decade after Photo 3.9, a young lad watches a hydraulic dredge suck up sediments adjacent to crib wall #1 near the stilling basin inlet channel. Ten years after the landfill was completed, the stilling basin continues to need attention. To the southeast, the dredge pipeline stretches far beyond crib wall #2, depositing spoil far from the inlet channel. (MWRD photo 7828)

DC-Photo 3.11
DC-Photo 3.11

October 22, 1920. Laborers are constructing a concrete cap on top of the rock-filled timber crib wall #2. The contractor’s floating plant consists of the materials and mixer barge at left and a work platform and derrick barge in the center. Wooden forms for the concrete cap have been fabricated and are laying on the work platform. Pilings have also been driven next to the crib wall to stabilize and protect it from boats. (MWRD photo 7891)

DC-Photo 3.12
DC-Photo 3.12

October 22, 1920. A section of crib wall #1 is being removed in this northeast view. Where the rock-filled timber crib wall was in disrepair and could not be stabilized to receive the new concrete cap, it was removed by the derrick on the barge using an orange-peel bucket and replaced with new pilings and concrete wall. (MWRD photo 7893)

DC-Photo 3.13
DC-Photo 3.13

October 22, 1920. The timber crib between the two rows of piles is being filled with rock by the dipper dredge at the far end of the new long breakwater. A reinforced section of crib wall #1 in the foreground connects to the land end of the long breakwater. The long breakwater was needed to blunt the force of storms from the north and northeast, and to reduce the accumulation of sand in the stilling basin inlet. (MWRD photo 7894)

DC-Photo 3.14
DC-Photo 3.14

December 5, 1920. The far end of the concrete cap in the foreground on crib wall #1 has yet to be completed to connect with the short breakwater in the center. Out of view to the left is the crib wall #1 connection to the new long breakwater observed in Photo 3.13. (MWRD photo 7956)

DC-Photo 3.15
DC-Photo 3.15

April 27, 1921. The stilling basin is looking more like a harbor now with construction equipment removed. The northwest and northeast retaining walls appear in the left and right foregrounds, respectively. The new northwest harbor wall appears on the left at mid-depth, and the concrete capped crib wall #2 is across the harbor on the right. The inlet channel appears in the center background as it was built; behind it, the far end of the new 500-foot-long is in the background. (MWRD photo 8125)

DC-Photo 3.16
DC-Photo 3.16

September 20, 1921. Filling the new 500-foot breakwater with rock has been completed. Later, this breakwater was reinforced with more piling on each side and surfaced with a concrete slab. It was popular for fishing and viewing of the shoreline. (MWRD photo 8422)

DC-Photo 3.17
DC-Photo 3.17

From crib wall #1 looking southwest, May 9, 1909. The temporary trestle bridge for Sheridan Road spanning the cut in the bluff for the channel. A low embankment at the shoreline remains across the cut to separate the lake from excavation of the channel beyond the trestle. In the right foreground is rock-filled timber crib wall #1. Coming over the bluff at right is a string of dump cars pushed by a dinkie locomotive transporting excavated spoil to be dumped in the landfill. (MWRD photo 3864)

DC-Photo 3.18
DC-Photo 3.18

May 9, 1908. The early stages of construction of the channel attracted many observers. A dinkie locomotive has brought four dump cars alongside the steam shovel to receive excavated spoil. When loaded, the locomotive will back down the slope and be switched to the track on the left, push the loaded dump cars up the track and on to the landfill across Sheridan Road. (MWRD photo 3870)

DC-Photo 3.19
DC-Photo 3.19

The dragline excavator used near Emerson Street was owned by the James O. Heyworth Company, one of the more successful District contractors. The dragline was more efficient than a steam shovel in excavating the clay subsoil along the channel. After filling the bucket and pulling it to near the top of the cut at left, the operator lifts the bucket, swivels the machine and tips the bucket to dump the load of clay onto the spoil pile, September 21, 1908. (MWRD photo 3913)

DC-Photo 3.20
DC-Photo 3.20

South of Main Street, another contractor, John T. Fanning Company, used this two-tower configuration for channel excavation. The operation is similar to a dragline, but employs two buckets operated separately from each tower, thus allowing excavation from both sides simultaneously. In this December 22, 1908, view, one bucket is being dumped behind the right tower and the other is being loaded in the cut. (MWRD photo 3977)

DC-Photo 3.21
DC-Photo 3.21

James Heyworth brought in a larger dragline for excavation on section 12, the reach from Lawrence Avenue to north of Foster Avenue. The bucket is being pulled toward the machine against the slope, thus loading the bucket, July 12, 1909. Heyworth even gave his machines names, like McCormick and Roosevelt. (MWRD photo 4112)

DC-Photo 3.22
DC-Photo 3.22

The District used steam shovels for channel excavation south of Peterson Avenue, shown here loading dump cars behind a dinkie locomotive, December 23, 1908. The dump cars were towed to a nearby clay pit for spoil disposal. Besides being less efficient than draglines, the steam shovel worked in the pit rather than on the top of the channel bank. (MWRD photo 3989)