Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Blue Island Lock (1922 60-Foot Canal)

What is today the Cal Sag Canal is a widening of a 60-foot channel completed in 1922.

Norman Rexford Flickr  CC BY-NC-SA
Open gates on the Blue Island locks in 1959. The north wall remains, along with the gatehouses. The gates themselves have been removed, but their location is easily identified today.
Michael Brandt posted
The Blue Island Locks & Gate Houses in 1959 shortly before their removal to widen the canal. Gate locations and houses still visible on the north bank of the canal.
Paul Petraitis: O'Brien Locks near Lake Calumet took over these duties!
3D Satellite
Norman Rexford Flickr  CC BY-NC-SA

Cal-Sag Channel in Operation looking east (8-24-1922)

Construction of the canal was completed in 1922. It was only 60 ft. wide, except for three 160 ft. wide sites for passing barges. The Blue Island Locks, which contolled access to the Cal-Sag before the construction of the O'Brien Locks, were only 50 ft. wide.
Cynthia L. Ogorek's Along the Calumet River is highly recommended for those interested.

Norman Rexford Flickr  CC BY-NC-SA

Looking East from Rock Island Bridge (12-6-1916)

Homes along the right of the photo's frame are facing Canal Street
Canal Street actually predates the Cal-Sag Channel by over 80 years. It was named and platted in 1839, part of Peter Barton's "Portland" subdivision. Barton imagined Blue Island would develop into a powerful canal town.

In turn, the 60-foot canal replaced the Calumet Feeder Canal for the Indiana & Michigan Canal.

Norman Rexford Flickr  CC BY-NC-SA

Stony Creek and Canal Feeder

Blue Island before the Cal-Sag. The Calumet Feeder ran from the Little Calumet River to the I&M Canal at Lemont.
Map and section from John H. Volp's Blue Island bio The First Hundred Years.

MWRD posted
Historical photo of the week: Construction of the Cal-Sag Channel in Blue Island on September 16, 1920, viewed looking east towards Stony Creek and the Ann Street and Western Ave bridges, showing A. Guthrie & Co. Inc casting concrete channel walls which were later removed when the channel was widened between 1955 and 1965.
I wonder how many times the Cal Sag has been widened. This 1914 cut looks rather wide.
Forgotten Railways, Roads, and Places shared
Joseph Obrien Originally dug as a feeder canal for the I & M canal around 1850, than it was widened again in the 1950s to what we have today.
David M Laz posted
The Cal Sag Channel under construction on Oct. 5, 1914
Turk Meyers Definitely a deeper looking channel than the Sanitary and Ship Canal.
Jose J Aguado It's that deep then, is it?
Michael Kaput 25 to 30 Ft. deep.
Phil Lauricella Many of those workers, Paddy Irish, are buried in St. James on the Sag churchyard. Along with the ghosts there, it is an amazing place to visit. My wife was baptized there in the 1950s.....
John Weber what is the address ?
Dennis DeBruler John Weber 10600 Archer Ave, Lemont, IL 60439


  1. The Cal-Sag was widened at different places at different times. I can't copy pics, since they're copyrighted, but at https://www.historicaerials.com/, you can follow the canal over the years. One example: where the tri-state passes over the canal, in 1951 the canal is 60 feet wide or so, with no tri-state. In 1961, it has been widened with the tri-state bridges in place.
    Another place of interest is between the Western and Kedzie bridges. From 1959-1967, you can literally watch bridges being built partly over dry land in preparation for the widening. It isn't until the 1973 photo that the canal is actually widened. So that part of the widening had to take place between '67 and '73.
    I don't know how much those pics cost or if they're available somewhere else in the public domain, but they would be a great addition to this blog, IMHO.

    1. There is another photo from 1967 available at this location, showing bridges that were built in preparation for the widening to come at https://carl3615.smugmug.com/History/Aerial-Photos/i-8mmdPbP/A. This is a copyrighted photo for sale, but I accessed it through this site: https://carl3615.smugmug.com/History/Aerial-Photos/, which anyone can visit (it has other historic aerial photos, including some of the Cal-Sag). It seems to me that linking to it shouldn't be a problem, since more traffic means more potential sales, but I'm no copyright lawyer, so if this is a problem, feel free to delete this post.