Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 5, 1862 -- Report on Intolerable Conditions on the River


March 5, 1862 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune editorializes about the nearly intolerable condition of the Chicago River, observing that "A walk across Rush street, Madison street or Polk street bridges will work conviction of the trouble upon the happy possessor of the obtusest of noses." The paper finds that between Fullerton and Chicago Avenues over 4,000 head of cattle are being "stall-fattened," and that "The entire drainage of these sheds . . . pours directly into the river." In the three miles from Bridgeport to Madison Street the paper found "no less than seventeen packing houses . . . the aggregate number of animals slaughtered on or near the river's banks whose blood swells the crimson tide, is not less than five thousand per day." In conclusion, the editorial states, "There have been, since October last, poured into the river the blood and entrails of more than eighty thousand head of fat cattle and of four hundred thousand hogs, besides the sewage and the winter's refuse of a hundred and twenty thousand well fed people. Let us not wonder, when this conduit of corruption is leaking out its contents into the lake, that when the wind is right, the water is abominable. Rather let us account it a mercy that it is no worse."

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