Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Railway System in 1911

Local transit is provided for by the suburban service of the steam railways, elevated electric roads, and a system of electric surface cars. Two great public works demand notice: the water system and the drainage canal. Water is pumped from Lake Michigan through several tunnels connecting with “cribs” located from 2 to 5 m. from shore. The “cribs” are heavy structures of timber and iron loaded with stone and enclosing the in-take cylinders, which join with the tunnels well below the bottom of the lake. The first tunnel was completed in 1867. The capacity of the tunnels was estimated in 1900 by two very competent authorities at 528 and 615 million gallons daily, respectively. The average daily supply in 1909 was 475,000,000 gallons; there were then 16.6 m. of tunnels below the lake. The wastes of the city—street washings, building sewage, the offal of slaughter-houses, and wastes of distilleries and rendering houses—were originally turned into the lake, but before 1870 it was discovered that the range of impurity extended already a mile into the lake, half-way to the water “crib,” and it became evident that the lake could not be indefinitely contaminated. The Illinois and Michigan Canal, for which the right of way was granted in 1821 and which was built in 1836-1841 and 1845-1848, and opened in 1848 (cost, $6,557,681), was once thought to have solved the difficulty; it is connected with the main (southern) branch of the Chicago river, 5 m. from its mouth, with the Illinois river at La Salle, the head of steamer navigation on the Illinois river, and is the natural successor in the evolution of transportation of the old Chicago portage, ½ m. in length, between the Chicago river and the headwaters of the Kankakee; it was so deepened as to draw water out from the lake, whose waters thus flowed toward the Gulf of Mexico. It is about 96 m. long, 40-42 ft. wide, and 4-7 ft. deep, but proved inadequate for the disposal of sewage. A solution of the problem was imperative by 1876, but almost all the wastes of the city continued nevertheless to be poured into the lake. In 1890 a sanitary district, including part of the city and certain suburban areas to be affected, was organized, and preparations made for building a greater canal that should do effectively the work it was once thought the old canal could do. The new drainage canal, one of the greatest sanitary works of the world, constructed between 1892 and 1900 under the control of the trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago (cost up to 1901, $35,448,291), joins the south branch of the Chicago with the Desplaines river, and so with the Illinois and Mississippi, and is 28.5 m. long,7 of which 15 m. were cut through rock; it is 22 ft. deep and has a minimum width of 164 ft. The canal, or sewer, is flushed with water from Lake Michigan, and its waters are pure within a flow of 150 m.8 Its capacity, which was not at first fully utilized, is 600,000 cub. ft. per minute, sufficient entirely to renew the water of the Chicago river daily. A system of intercepting sewers to withdraw drainage into the lake was begun in 1898; and the construction of a canal to drain the Calumet region was begun in 1910. The Illinois and Michigan canal is used by small craft, and the new drainage canal also may be used for shipping in view of the Federal government’s improvements of the rivers connecting it with the Mississippi for the construction of a ship-canal for large vessels. The canal also made possible the development (begun in 1903) of enormous 120 hydraulic power for the use of the city. The Illinois and Michigan Canal has been supplemented by the Illinois and Mississippi Canal, commonly known as “the Hennepin,” from its starting at the great bend of the Illinois river 1¾ m. above Hennepin, not far below La Salle; the first appropriation for it was made in 1890, and work was begun in 1892 and completed in October 1907. Its course from Hennepin is by the Bureau Creek valley to the mouth of Queen river on the Rock river, thence by the Rock river and a canal around its rapids at Milan to its mouth at Rock Island on the Mississippi river. This barge canal is 80 ft. wide at water-line, 52 ft. wide at the bottom, and 7 ft. deep. Its main feeder is the Rock river, dammed by a dam nearly 1500 ft. long between Sterling and Rock Falls, Illinois, where the opening of the canal was celebrated on the 24th of October 1907.

Beginning with 1892 steam railways began the elevation (or depression) of their main tracks, of which there were in 1904 some 838 m. within the city. Another great improvement was begun in 1901 by a private telephone company. This is an elaborate system of freight subways, more than 65 m. of which, underlying the entire business district, had been constructed before 1909. It is the only subway system in the world that seeks to clear the streets by the lessening of trucking, in place of devoting itself to the transportation of passengers. Direct connexion is made with the freight stations of all railways and the basements of important business buildings, and coal, building materials, ashes and garbage, railway luggage, heavy mail and other kinds of heavy freight are expeditiously removed and delivered. Telegraph and telephone wires are carried through the tunnel, and can be readily repaired. The subway was opened for partial operation in 1905.9

No comments:

Post a Comment