Lemont Waterways: The Cal Sag Channel

Doesn’t look like much, does it? This is a ditch that drained swampy areas in the Sag Valley and flowed into the Sanitary Canal prior to construction of the Cal-Sag Channel that replaced it. Photo courtesy Sanitary District of Chicago.

Doesn’t look like much, does it? This is a ditch that drained swampy areas in the Sag Valley and flowed into the Sanitary Canal prior to construction of the Cal-Sag Channel that replaced it. Photo courtesy Sanitary District of Chicago.

So here’s the bottom line. After almost 80 years and three generations of effort to improve the Chicago waterways, to allow for adequate flow away from Chicago and Lake Michigan, to ensure water levels that would not allow flow back into the lake—guess what? It still didn’t work as planned! At low water levels, that canal still flowed the wrong way, although now only occasionally—but even occasionally was not desirable. So what to do? I bet you know. Why this was Chicago—we built another canal!

A small ditch, sometimes just swampland, trickled through that other valley, the Sag Valley. At one time that ditch flowed into the Des Plaines River, but now, of course, both the I & M Canal and the Sanitary Canal flowed between the ditch and the river. If it had some more water in it, that would do the trick.

In 1911 construction began on the Cal-Sag Channel, which connected the Little Calumet River to the Sanitary Canal at Sag Bridge. It was completed in 1922. It did the job. Finally.

The Little Calumet River ultimately connects to Lake Michigan south of Chicago. “Experts” think the first canal, the I & M, should have taken this route through the Sag Valley instead of the Des Plaines River Valley. Who knows if this would have worked any better?

Lemont is the only place where all four waterways flow: the Des Plaines River in its new bed; the old unused I & M Canal, now part of the I & M Heritage Corridor and its system of trails; and the meeting of the Sanitary Canal and Cal-Sag Channel within its boundaries.

If one drives north on Archer Avenue from Lemont, just past where Archer becomes Route 83 for a short distance, is a quarry on your right, and you proceed over a bridge that takes you over the Cal-Sag Channel. This waterway replaces much of what was once the town of Sag Bridge. After this bridge, Archer splits off to the right. At this intersection, the high ground overlooks both valleys and directly to the west the Cal-Sag and Sanitary Canal meet. Proceeding north on Route 83, you pass over the I & M Canal, then the Sanitary Canal, and then the Des Plaines River. Take a good look next time you go this way. I hope you remember some of what you just read.

News
 There is a lot of news this week!
 First, a reminder that on Monday night, July 6, I will be a featured writer at a book signing event hosted by my publisher, Amika Press, along with more of Amika’s writers and new releases. See below for more information, and I hope to see some of you there!

Next, I was pleased to be spotlighted on CelticLady’s Reviews, a book review blog. Those of you who have read The Mystery at Sag Bridge will realize the significance of an Irish book reviewer!
You can view the spotlight
here:

Congratulations to Amy Manta, who was selected after the Tinley Park Library Author Fair to receive a Wellness Journal.

And last, but not least, have a wonderful holiday this weekend!

AmikaPress_6July15_flyer

About Pat Camalliere

Pat is a writer of historical mysteries. She lives in Lemont, Illinois.

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2 Responses to Lemont Waterways: The Cal Sag Channel

  1. My pleasure to host! Plus I look forward to reading the book. I am obsessed with anything Irish so I am sure I will enjoy the story!

    • Thanks Kathleen. One of the main characters is a young Irish woman living in an Irish immigrant town in 1898. She feels very real to me…but then, I spent a lot of time with her!

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