March 3, 1893 – Two representatives of Lloyd’s of London, one of them the chief surveyor for the firm, join a party on a tour of the Chicago River with the object being “to obtain all possible information about the quality and construction of American lake vessels and the methods used in inspecting and classifying, with a view to reporting the knowledge obtained to the English Lloyds’ underwriters.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 6, 1893] At 10:00 a.m. the group boards the tug James McGorden at the foot of the La Salle Street. The tug passes dozens of propeller ships, berthed for the winter along river docks as stories are exchanged. Near Canal Street the section of the river near the lumber yards becomes “mingled with grease and other refuse,” and the captain begins to entertain his guests with stories of the worst parts of the river. “This here is nothing,” he says, “to what you’ll find up near the Stock-yards. Why, out there I’ve seen the river so thick that the rats and chickens can run across without wetting their feet. In summer when the sun gets hot it makes the river really dangerous. It fries and bakes the surface into a crust. When a tug passes through the gases are stirred up, and any spark will create a blaze. I remember once I was up along the Stock-yards river branch with a tow. Somebody held a piece of lighted waste over the side, and in a moment the whole surface of the river along our wake was ablaze. The flame arose as high as ten feet in places and it was all we could do to beat away without taking fire.” As the city prepared to open the great World’s Columbian Exposition within months, the sights and sounds, along with the tales of the river, must have impressed this day’s English visitors greatly. As early as 1870 the south branch of the river between Fourteenth and Sixteenth Streets was the heart of the city's lumber trade as can be see in the above photograph.
March 3, 1926 -- Three men die, leaving behind three widows and four young daughters, as an Illinois Central passenger train runs against a red signal and collides with a Michigan Central fast freight. M. C. Tobin, the engineer of the I. C. train, is blamed for the wreck. A. E. Cliff, senior vice-president of the I. C., says, "The route through the interlocking plant [at 67th Street] was set 'proceed' for the Michigan Central train and at 'stop' for the Illinois Central suburban train. The interlocking plant was in proper working order, as confirmed by complete inspection and test following the accident." The family of Thomas A Groggier, the train's fireman who died in the crash, is pictured above.