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Mulford’s Ditch, the Big Ditch, and the North Shore Channel

Rascher's Map, 1874.

It’s no big deal. Only a curious few will care. But the North Shore Channel didn’t follow the route of the Big Ditch north of Oakton Street. A few authors, this one included, believed it did.

An article in the Evanston RoundTable on Mother’s Day, 2024, aroused my curiosity about Mulford’s Ditch and crossing the Rubicon. Seeking answers, the Big Ditch showed up, surprisingly in a different location, but for good reasons.

The first non-indigenous settlers came to the area in the late 1820s and they named the place Ridgeville for good reason: Those that stayed lived on a ridge, no one lived in the marshes. There were two ridges, presently known as Chicago and Ridge avenues. In between and on each side thereof were poorly drained marshes, frequently wet in summer and frozen in winter.

Download the PDF to read the rest of this piece.

[The complete story of the North Shore Channel can be found in the author’s book Draining Chicago: The Early City and the North Area.]

Mulford's Ditch, the Big Ditch, and the North Shore Channel
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