Friday, January 15, 2016

Bubbly Creek

Glen Miller posted
Bubbly Creek is the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River. The Union Stock Yards and the slaughter houses were at the end of this creek. They dumped the manure and leftover animal debris into the creek. Since the creek did not have much of a flow, the gunk accumulated. The gunk was so thick that it was strong enough to walk on. Furthermore, the decaying remains would create methane gas as it decomposed. Thus the creek literally did bubble. The visible gunk is gone, but the creek still bubbles to this day.

This 1897 railroad map shows the tributaries that used to run east and west at the south end of the fork. It also reminds one that the Ship and Sanitary Canal has yet to be built and the West Fork still exists.
Gary Statkus commented on a post
The whole thing was/is referred to as Bubbly Creek.

John Nowakowski posted
John's comment:
Prior to 1900, before the flow of the Chicago River was reversed, the Chicago River flowed into Lake Michigan. As the city grew population wise together with the growth of industry, the river became so polluted with industrial waste and sewage, that it threatened to city's drinking water supply, which was taken from Lake Michigan. They say the river gurgled and percolated from the pollution. This is a view of the south fork of the Chicago River Prior to 1900. In the middle of the picture is a chicken walking on the water.
The South Fork was a lot longer back in the day of the packing plants. Kiernan Sanders provided a link to a map that indicated where it went to the West and East. Note that reversing the flow of the South Branch did not improve the flow through the South Fork. That is one reason it is still a big mess. People still report seeing bubbles coming out of it. Even though the GM&O was required to make its bridge a movable one, it has not been dredged. Some of the comments on this posting talk about what you find when you dredge a river in the city --- guns, a car with a missing women in the trunk, etc.

Mike Luxem posted
Robert Bruce It is hard to make it out clearly, but the other building is the Anglo-American Provision Company, once one of the city's leading meatpacking firms in the years after the Civil War. Anglo-American continued to stand among the more important second-tier Chicago packers until 1902, when it became part of the National Packing Co. established by Armour, Swift, and other large Chicago packers.

Mike Luxem added a comment
Page 10 Tribune June 26
Jean Kelly It is still bubbly!!!'
Maestro Mulero That is why it was BUBBLY, all the lard fat and Toxins in the water made it even impossible for the water to freeze in Winter.
Robert Bruce The waste dumping slowed somewhat when the packers learned that they were throwing away money, and that a lot of this "waste" could be made into useful by-products like lard. The meat business was so competitive that the packers didn't make that much on the meat. It was the development of by-products that made for large profits. Still the damage was done, and the creek bubbles. The Army Corps of Engineers has done some remediation, and some of the creek has been filled in. It is getting better, but not quite there yet.
Rachael Hagan Bubbly Creek restoration plan stalls amid contamination concerns - Chicago Tribune
Stephen Boisvert It's kind of funny that the city mechanically intervenes to actively aerate the water on the north branch. Bad bubbles versus Good bubbles.

Chicago and Cleveland could have had a context as to which river stank more. Both of them got their water from the Great Lakes so they thought it was OK to dump anything into their river. At least stockyard waste did not burn as easily as petroleum waste.
History, 1952 fire
Between 1868 and 1969, it burned ten times. The 1969 fire was one of the incidents that motivated Congress to pass the Clean Water Act in 1972.

6 photos

1 comment:

  1. There is a reason why Cleveland's Great Lakes Brwg. Co. named one of its flagship beers "Burning River Pale Ale". !=}#
    Is anybody {Marz?} going to brand a beer after Bubbly Creek?