Chicago Drainage Collection

Title

Chicago Drainage Collection

Subject

Illinois--Chicago
Illinois--Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
Waterways
Illinois--Chicago Sanitary District
Dams--Design and construction
Canals--Design and construction
Canals
Dams

Description

The Chicago Drainage Collection documents the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal during the 1890s and early 1900s. The canal serves as a shipping link between the Great Lakes Waterway and the Missisippi River and it carries Chicago's sewage to the Des Plaines River. 

Construction on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal began in 1889 with the creation of the Municipal Sanitary District in response to fears that sewage pumped into the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan would contaminate the city's drinking water. The canal also served as a replacement for the narrower and shallower Illinois and Michigan Canal. Canal construction ran under the leadership of chief engineer Isham Randolph from September 3, 1892, known as "Shovel Day," until January 2, 1900, when water was first released into the canal. 

During the construction process, engineers successfully and permanently reversed the flow of the Chicago River, enabling it to carry waste water away to the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Admiral George Dewey dedicated the canal on May 2, 1900. Additional construction extending the canal to Joliet ran from 1903-1907. 

Photographs in this collection include images of the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Bear Trap Dam at the base of the canal in Lockport, Illinois. Other images include Admiral Dewey's visit to dedicate the waterway as well as before and after images of the empty and filled canal.

Collection Items

Bear Trap Dam #1
Construction materials lie next to the Bear Trap Dam at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Bear Trap Dam #2
A man sits on a large concrete pillar in front of the Bear Trap Dam located at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Bear Trap Dam #3
A view of the Bear Trap Dam shows a floodgate.

Bear Trap Dam #4
A man and a woman pose for a picture at the bottom of the Bear Trap dam located at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Bear Trap Dam #5
A view of the Bear Trap Dam, located at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport, shows a closed floodgate on the dam.

Bear Trap Dam #6
Trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago pose for a group photo at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport. The Bear Trap Dam is visible in the background on the left.

Bridge #1
Trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago pose for a group photo on a bridge located at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Bear Trap Dam #7
Trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago pose for a group photo atop the Bear Trap Dam located at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Dewey's Welcome to the Channel
Poem written by Isham Randolph, the engineer who oversaw the construction of the Sanitary and Ship Canal. The poem refers to United States Navy Admiral George Dewey's visit to Lockport after the canal opened. The poem reads: "Glad welcome gallant…

Admiral Dewey, Arrival #2
Five thousand people await the arrival of United States Navy Admiral George Dewey and his party at the Controlling Works at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Admiral Dewey, Arrival #3
Five thousand people stand on the banks awaiting the arrival of United States Navy Admiral George Dewey and his party at the Controlling Works at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Admiral Dewey, Arrival #4
Men stand on a structure watching as the flagship "Hinda," carrying United States Navy Admiral George Dewey, enters Windage Basin at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Sanitary District Ship
Passengers stand on the deck of the Sanitary District's ship "Juliet," the first craft to navigate the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The Bear Trap Dam is visible in the background.

Admiral Dewey, Arrival #5
Spectators on the shore watch as United States Navy Admiral George Dewey's ship arrives at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Lockport.

Admiral Dewey, Arrival #6
United States Navy Admiral George Dewey and his party board a train at McCook for a trip over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Admiral Dewey, Arrival #7
United States Navy Admiral George Dewey and his party walk down a flight of stairs to a waiting boat at McCook for a trip over Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Conference
Governor John Riley Tanner meets with members of the Canal Commissioners, the Special Inspection Commissioners, and the Trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago to determine whether or not the state will issue permissions to open the main…

Canal #1
Trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago break the temporary dam at the west fork of the south branch of the Chicago River to allow water from Lake Michigan to begin filling the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Canal #2
Trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago stand with shovels while awaiting approval to open the Bear Trap Dam at Lockport, which would send the water from the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal into the Des Plaines River, eventually reaching the…

Spoil Banks #1
Two women pose for a photograph standing in front of the spoil banks created by the digging of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Spoil Banks #2
A view of the spoil banks, called the "Sierra Mountains," shows several piles of earth created by the digging of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Bridge #2
A view from the bottom of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal shows two bridges on the day that water began to fill the canal.

Bridge #3
A Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal bridge stands over a full waterway.

Canal #3
A view shows the "The Great Two Mile Curve" at Romeoville, prior to the filling of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Canal #4
A view shows houses along the far side of "The Great Two Mile Curve" at Romeoville prior to the filling of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
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