Saturday, June 4, 2016

MWRD: Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Controlling Works

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(HAER, none of the photos are digitized. But there are three diagrams.)

When the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (SC&CS) was opened in 1900, it terminated at a controlling works.

The seven sluice gates are still operational. (Bays were built for 8 more sluice gates, but they were never needed. They still have just bulkheads.) The sluice gates can be opened during heavy rains to dump excess water into the Des Plaines River to maintain the CS&SC at the correct water level. There is a sign on 9th Street before you cross the river warning you that the height of the river may suddenly rise and cover the road. That is, if the sluice gates are opened, they dump enough water into the river to flood the area. The gates are opened about 6 times a year after heavy rains in the area when the flow in the canal is more than the powerhouse can handle.

MWRD posted
Two people pose near completed gate structures for the Lockport Controlling Works during construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1899.
Michael Pazanin: At that that time bricklayers out numbered all the trades combined!

When the controlling works were built, a 160' bear trap dam south of the sluice gates was used to handle the day-to-day adjustment of water flow to control the canal's water level. This gate also allowed ice and debris to flow down the river.

In 1907 the canal was extended south, and a lock with a 36-foot drop was built. If I remember correctly, that was the largest drop for a lock in the world when it was built. It still exists as the small, abandoned lock next to the current lock. That sluice gate and spillway just west of the old lock and the water released through the powerhouse is now used to fine tune the level of the canal.

As part of the 9-foot navigation project of the Illinois, Des Plaines River and the CS&SC, the Lockport Lock and Powerhouse was built. The powerhouse has a 38 foot difference between its head and tail waters. After the powerhouse and spillway were built, the bear trap dam was removed. This photo shows the levee that replaced the bear trap gate.
Judging from the dericks in the background of the photo below, they are still building the bear trap gate. Since the bottom of the sluice gates are exposed, the canal has not been filled yet. I don't think this was the opening ceremonies. I think this is just a photo of a tour group. There were a lot of tours of the construction of the canal because people understood it was a major engineering feat of its day.
Rich Kolar posted
Opening ceremonies of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, May 5, 1899. Unknown photographer. Photo from Chicago History Museum collection. "The Sanitary and Ship Canal, ran from South Damen Street to the town of Lockport." This meant that the flow of the main branch of the river and the south branch (think Union Stockyards) carried pollutants away from Chicago' drinking water in Lake Michigan toward the Mississippi River watershed. At 28 miles long, with a width of 202 feet and depth of 24 feet it was the largest municipal project in the United States at that time. However, it did nothing to stop the pollution of the north branch of the river.

MWRD posted
James Gallai Terrific photograph!
Lots of Expression!
Makes me curious about race relations during that period in Illinois.
Something to google.
Jack Franklin Very interesting to see an African American worker sharing the picture, considering the times.
Commissioner Kari Steele Jack Franklin yes, this is one of my favorite historical photos.
Dennis DeBruler I've yet to see an obese worker in historical photos. And it is not because they didn't drink beer. It is because they burned calories.
Dennis DeBruler I've seen the warning signs about possible flash floods downstream from these gates. When was the last time they were opened?,-88.../data=!3m1!1e3

MWRD posted
Three laborers pose next to a compressed air rock drill during the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship canal. The nearly completed sluice gates for the Lockport Controlling Works can be seen in the background. The estimated date is sometime in November 1896. Drilling into rock requires the use of a fluid, or drilling mud, which can be seen splattered all over the workers. Explosives were placed into the holes and detonated, and the rock debris could then be removed from the worksite.

MWRD posted
Laborers take a photo break during the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) extension on September 22, 1904. Splattered with drilling mud and posing next to compressed air rock drills, they were drilling holes for explosives during excavation of the four-mile extension, which began in 1903 and was completed in 1907. When the CSSC was completed in 1900, it ended at the Controlling Works near Lockport. The Sanitary District of Chicago (now MWRD) built the extension to Joliet to allow for complete navigation from Lake Michigan to the Des Plaines River via the CSSC, effectively replacing the I&M Canal. The Lockport Powerhouse is located at the midpoint of the extension.
The Midwest, including Chicago, had a lot of water dumped on it the afternoon of May 17, 2020. I know because we had more water flow into our basement that afternoon than we had ever seen in the over 40 years that we have lived in our house. I think this flow is over the road just downstream from the Controlling Works.
Screenshot from a comment by Halsted Pazdzior on his post

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