June 26, 1919 – The steamer Lake Granby with Captain John Klang in command casts off her lines in the Chicago River and starts her run to Liverpool with a cargo of meat products. This will be the first shipment of goods from Chicago directly to a foreign port. The Lake Granby carries a Chicago crew and was built in the Chicago area. Before departure, lunch is served on the steamship for a group of businessmen and a bottle of champagne is broken over the ship’s bow. The Vice-President of meat-packing company Morris and Co., Charles M. MacFarlane, explains the purpose of the trip, saying, “The advantages of this mode of sending shipments to Europe are great, as it eliminates rail shipment to New York. It relieves the congestion at the seaboard and does away with all the reloading, demurrage, and other charges usually incident to shipment to the seaboard. Shippers from points west of Chicago, on the Missouri river and the other points in that direction are all interested in the development of this branch of the service because it means their own commodities can be handled to much greater advantage through Chicago than by having them shipped to New York.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 27, 1919] The through-freight rate from Chicago to Liverpool by the all-water route is $1.25 per 100 pounds for the meat products the Lake Granby is carrying. The rate would be $1.45 per 100 pounds for the same cargo, using the railroads to New York and a ship to Liverpool. Notice how high the Lake Granby rides in the water in the above photo. Because the maximum depth in the Welland Canal locks permits only 14 feet of draft and the Lake Granby draws 25 feet when loaded to the water line, the ship will stop in Montreal to take on additional cargo.
June 26, 1862 – The Chicago Tribune begins yet another editorial about the Chicago River in this way, “It is conceded by all men that something must be done immediately to improve the sanitary condition of the Chicago River. The good name of our city, the lives of thousands of our citizens, and, its commerce, growth and prosperity imperatively demand immediate and energetic action . . . In its present condition, a week of hot weather will render a block or two on each side of the river uninhabitable. And, besides what is to become of our vast shipping interest—the men who navigate our tugs and attend to the bridges, and virtually are forced to live during the season amid the intolerable pestilence-breeding stench of the river, and the crews of our propellers, canal boats, and vessels that are obliged to live upon the river from one to three days at a time? A week of hot weather will drive them from the river, and no man is so stupid as not to know that Chicago is nothing without her commerce.” The paper has solutions. Pumps at Bridgeport “can clear it out and, aired by the process and mingled with the water of the DesPlaines it will pass South without inconvenience or offence to any body.” But the North Branch, with virtually no current, is a different story, and the Tribune has a solution for that as well: “Place one or half a dozen pumps, if necessary, driven by wind mills on the Lake shore, at or near the north end of the old cemetery, and let the water be discharged in a ditch running due west into the North Branch. Let the pumps be of the largest size, and such are now used upon our railroads.” How different North Avenue would be today if instead of its popular beach and nautical-themed boathouse it was the site of a half-dozen windmills, churning away in the Windy City, pumping lake water west to the river.