West by Southwest to Stickney

Chapter 3 Photos

Original Sanitary & Ship Canal Completion and Improvment

Photo 3.1
Photo 3.1

The downstream side of the sluice gates at the Lockport Controlling Works, July 14, 1910. Control building is to right of center. At left are eight sluice gate bays that have never been used and today are buried in backfill. At right is a simple deck bridge on timber bents spanning between the sluice gates and the Bear Trap Dam. Below the bridge is the discharge outlet for the Bear Trap Dam north operating mechanism. The deck bridge and dam control building no longer exist. (MWRD photo 156A)

Photo 3.2
Photo 3.2

The upstream side of the sluice gates at the Lockport Controlling Works looking northwest, September 15, 2017. The control building addition at the south end improved the work space for operators who must spend long hours in inclement weather when the gates are open during flood operations. During dry weather, there is no staff at this facility. The structure has changed little in over 100 years. (Photo by author)

Photo 3.3
Photo 3.3

The downstream side of the Lockport Controlling Works machinery and office building, July 14, 1910. At left is the south end of the bridge spanning the Bear Trap Dam and part of the building housing the Bear Trap Dam operating mechanism and offices. In the center is the pony-truss bridge spanning between the Bear Trap Dam bridge and the access road bridge. Behind the bridge is the part of the building for equipment. All that is visible was removed in the 1930s. (MWRD photo 155A)

Photo 3.4
Photo 3.4

March 23, 1918. A 160-foot-long fixed through-truss bridge spanning the Bear Trap Dam was installed in 1900 after the Sanitary & Ship Canal went into operation to provide access to the sluice gates at the Lockport Controlling Works. Buildings at each end of the bridge house operating mechanisms for each end of the Bear Trap Dam. The bridge, dam, and operating mechanism buildings were removed in the 1930s. (MWRD photo 6458.2)

Photo 3.5
Photo 3.5

Looking north, September 12, 1900. One of the temporary timber trestles for the Eight Track bridge is in service for construction of the interim fixed through-truss spans. The canal has been in service and water has been flowing by this crossing for nine months. The substructure piers for the bridge on each side of the channel were completed prior to filling the canal with water. Superstructure construction has been started as noted by the pylons protruding above track level. (MWRD photo 1788)

Photo 3.6
Photo 3.6

Looking north on September 5, 1900, at the crossing for the Eight-Track bridge. This view shows the three temporary timber trestles crossing the channel to allow continuous railroad travel while construction proceeds for the interim through-truss bridges. The outer trestles are for train traffic, while the center trestle is for construction of the through-truss bridges. The large building in the left background is the McCormick Reaper Works. (MWRD photo 1777)

Photo 3.7
Photo 3.7

June 22, 1908. The Eight-Track interim fixed truss bridge had a short, but critical life. Completed in 1901, it allowed the channel to be opened to navigation and the railroads to continue service while the design was prepared for the permanent movable bascule bridges. The interim fixed bridge consisted of four double-track through-truss spans. Dock wall construction is underway in the foreground in front of the District’s main electrical substation. (MWRD photo 3880)

Photo 3.8
Photo 3.8

The Eight-Track double-track bascule spans replaced the fixed double-track through-truss spans one at a time. On March 2, 1910, looking southwest, the replacement of span number 2 is in progress. Spans 1, 3, and 4 have already been replaced. A derrick mounted on span number 1 is placing the rolling panels and other structural members for the second span. (MWRD photo 4336)

Photo 3.9
Photo 3.9

One-and-a-half months later, on April 19, 1910, the structure for span number 2 has been completed and workers are laying track on the south approach span while painters are applying the final coat of dark green paint to the counter weight of bascule span number 3. (MWRD photo 4349)

Photo 3.10
Photo 3.10

Looking west from the south bank of the Sanitary & Ship Canal west of the Western Avenue bridge, July 5, 1910, the Eight-Track bridge is complete. It consists of four single-leaf double-track bascule spans number 1 through 4, with number 1 on the east side. Fixed truss spans complete the crossing, spanning from the piers to abutments on each end of the bascule spans. (MWRD photo 4424)

Photo 3.
Photo 3.

On August 23, 1916, looking west from the nearby canal wall, the Eight-Track bridge bascule spans are beginning to close after the downstream passing of a tugboat pulling a piledriver for work on a downstream dock wall. Spans number 1 and 3 roll on the south pier to lift and spans number 2 and 4 roll on the north pier. The bridge remains in service today, but is no longer operable. (MWRD photo 5569)

Photo 3.12
Photo 3.12

The dilapidated and unused lock on the I&M Canal in Bridgeport, May 2, 1914, looking east-northeast toward the Ashland Avenue bridge. After the opening of the Sanitary & Ship Canal in 1900, the District rebuilt this lock and the associated pumping station to supply water to the I&M Canal to allow navigation to continue. Navigation between Chicago and Joliet on the canal ceased after 1907 when the District’s extended canal and new lock at Lockport went into service. (MWRD photo 4940)

Photo 3.13
Photo 3.13

The west gates of the Bridgeport lock on the Illinois and Michigan Canal looking west-southwest, May 2, 1914. The canal sat idle for several years, was a stagnant nuisance, and gradually was filled-in. (MWRD photo 4936)

Photo 3.14
Photo 3.14

The Ashland Avenue bridge over the Illinois and Michigan Canal looking east, May 3, 1914. Barges were moored in the unused entrance channel to the Bridgeport lock and eventually sank near the canal’s eastern entrance. The name on the bow of the sunken canal boat is “Young Stone Co.” (MWRD photo 4941)

Photo 3.15
Photo 3.15

June 6, 1920, looking east-northeast, the California Avenue bridge crosses over what was the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The canal had become filled-in and overgrown in some places and standing stagnant water in other places. Roadway and utility construction had occurred, which foreclosed future use as a canal. In the 1960s, the Stevenson Expressway, Interstate Route I-55, was constructed on the right-of-way between Bridgeport and Summit. (MWRD photo 7611)

Photo 3.16
Photo 3.16

July 2, 1914, looking west, FitzSimons and Connell Dredge and Dock Company dredge number 6 is widening the Sanitary & Ship Canal near Summit. Widening was necessary because the 1910 census population exceeded 1,500,000 and the Act of 1889 required a larger channel between Damen Avenue and Summit to pass more sewage and dilution water for a population this size. The original canal in this reach was built to a lesser capacity, consistent for the population prior to 1910. (MWRD photo 4950)

Photo 3.17
Photo 3.17

Weakness in the bedrock, perhaps caused by the tremendous weight of the nearby spoil pile, caused numerous failures in the rock wall of the S&S Canal between Willow Springs and Lockport, requiring replacement of short segments of canal wall with masonry. The replacement shown is near Romeoville, and was completed on November 8, 1915. Replacement was accomplished using a cofferdam in the canal, removing the incompetent rock and replacing it with mortared quarried limestone. (MWRD photo 5228)

Photo 3.18
Photo 3.18

July 25, 1924. Constructed in 1908, the Willow Springs Spillway is located on the northwest bank of the Sanitary & Ship Canal about 0.75 miles downstream of Willow Springs. This north looking view shows young trees growing on the upstream side of the spillway crest. However, the vegetation won’t impede the flow of water over the 400-foot-long crest. (MWRD photo 10990)

Photo 3.19
Photo 3.19

October 22, 1923. The Willow Springs Spillway is diverting flow from the Des Plaines River to the Sanitary & Ship Canal. The spillway was constructed for that purpose to relieve flooding upstream in the western suburbs. The additional water also boosted power production at Lockport. The spillway was closed in 1955 after a flood in 1954 diverted too much water from the river to the canal, backing up water in the canal and causing flooding in downtown Chicago. (MWRD photo 10224)

Photo 3.20
Photo 3.20

June 18, 1925. The California Avenue bridge over the Sanitary & Ship Canal was the first additional bridge constructed after the bridges built when the canal was first constructed. Looking downstream, the north bascule leaf is upright while erection of the steel framing continues. The south bascule leaf has been lowered for the bridge deck to be installed. (MWRD photo 11831)

Photo 3.21
Photo 3.21

All new bridges over the Sanitary & Ship Canal built by the District were the trunnion bascule type. This detail, looking northwest on August 15, 1928, shows erection of the trunnion pivot and curved rack for the Crawford Avenue bridge south abutment. The south leaf will span to the right. (MWRD photo 14251)

Photo 3.22
Photo 3.22

June 27, 1930. The Crawford Avenue bridge is nearing completion. Looking south across the canal on the east side of the bridge, the handsome masonry façade enclosing the abutments and steel framing presents a more pleasing appearance than the open abutment structures built earlier. The City of Chicago renamed Crawford Avenue Pulaski Avenue in 1935. (MWRD photo 16396)

Photo 3.23
Photo 3.23

February 28, 1928. Looking northeast, construction of the Cicero Avenue bridge is nearing completion. Its design and appearance are similar to other bridges built by the District at California, Harlem, and Pulaski avenues. The Harlem bridge was transferred to state ownership, the other three were transferred to city of Chicago ownership. (MWRD photo 13789)

Photo 3.24
Photo 3.24

Groundbreaking for these new bridges crossing the Sanitary & Ship Canal was a big event given the many years spent convincing the District to build a bridge and obtaining approvals for funding and contracting. Looking north, the event for Crawford Avenue filled the street with celebrants, September 21, 1927. The large building on the right is Commonwealth Edison’s Crawford Avenue Generating Station. (MWRD photo 13458)

Photo 3.25
Photo 3.25

This building on the south bank of the Sanitary & Ship Canal west of Western Avenue is being constructed at the same time as the Lockport Powerhouse. Picture here, it is about half finished, March 21, 1907. It was completed by November 1907 when the first electrical power was transmitted from Lockport. The building served as the main substation for the distribution of electricity by the District. (MWRD photo 3654)

Photo 3.26
Photo 3.26

A view from the Western Ave. bridge on August 11, 1924. The main substation on the south bank of the S&S Canal served as the nerve center of District electrical and waterway operations from 1907 to 1965. It was commonly referred to as “31st and Western.” Other buildings on the site served as the center for operations and maintenance of the electrical distribution system until the system was phased out in the 30s and 40s. The site is now leased to the Chicago Park District. (MWRD photo 11076)

Photo 3.27
Photo 3.27

Laborers are doing repair work on both canal banks of the Sanitary & Ship Canal in the vicinity of Summit, February 14, 1934. Jobs were scarce in the hard times of the 1930s. Fortunately, the District had much work to offer maintaining existing infrastructure and constructing new. Funds to create jobs and do this work were available through loans from the federal Works Progress Administration. (MWRD photo 17885)

Photo 3.28
Photo 3.28

February 14, 1934, looking northeast from the crossing of the Belt Railroad toward the Summit-Lyons Road bridge on the Sanitary & Ship Canal, the repair work is partially complete. After hand shoveling to smooth the slope surface, each piece of rock riprap was placed by a pair of hands. It was hard work, but much appreciated during the Great Depression. (MWRD photo 17888)