Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 20, 1900 -- A River Runs through It -- But Not Deep Enough

April 20, 1900 -- Just three months after the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal opened, the project that was to end all of Chicago's river troubles . . . BAD NEWS. Marine interests pressure the Chicago Sanitary District to order the controlling works in Lockport to be shut down on this date. The depth of the river had dropped so low that at least 20 big ships were unable to make it over the roof of the Washington Boulevard tunnel, and grain shippers were impatient at the delay in getting cargo in and out of the city. In a neat job of parrying criticism, the head of the drainage board said, "The problem with the lake Captains is that they load their vessels too heavily. They often load down to seventeen and eighteen feet draft when they know there is only seventeen feet of water in the river." On top of everything else the tow line between a tug and the steamer Panther snaps, and the ship slams into the steamer Parnell at the Wells Street dock. The photo above shows the controlling works in Lockport, a city that got its name because of the lock located there on the original 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal.

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