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See the book's accompanying photo galleries


A Matter of Survival


To reverse the flow of a river wouldn't be possible today, but to Chicago near the end of the nineteenth century it became a matter of survival.


On the shores of Lake Michigan, connected to the Great Lakes system, with the Chicago River and easy waterway access to the expanding American West, Chicago had much that was ideal in the way of water for a burgeoning metropolis in the 1800s. It also had a flat topography and poor drainage.


As the city swelled, railroads replaced water transport, the population surged, and the lake served both as water supply and sewage repository.


The Chicago River became overwhelmed with the commerce of a port city and its residents' sewage. It stank at times. Deadly, waterborne diseases were spreading. Flooding from the interior tore through the city to get to the lake. What to do?


Without sewage treatment, it was decided to breach a subcontinental divide, send the sewage away, and save the lake. The idea received legislative approval with the promise of a navigable canal.


In the largest municipal earth-moving project ever at that point—an engineering marvel and a monumental public works success—the flow of the Chicago River was turned away from Lake Michigan in 1900. Chicago’s own shoulder-to-the-wheel determination made it work. 


Building the Canal to Save Chicago is the first book in this four-book series. 

Building the Canal to Save Chicago

  • Publisher: Lake Claremont Press: A Chicago Joint

    ISBN/Format/Price: 978-1893121-71-3, paperback, $16

    ISBN/Format/Price: 978-1893121-63-8, Kindle ebook, $9.99

    Available from the Author through this Site:

    • Paperback: $16
    • PDF ebook: $9.99
    • Kindle Create or .MOBI ebook: $9.99

    Page Count: 386 pp.

    Pub Date: 2012

    Illustrations: Heavily illustrated with historic photos, maps, and tables. Click on the photo galleries link under the book cover on this page to see historic images that illustrate the book.


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