Friday, August 26, 2005

Chicago River - The River that flows backwards

Engineering marvels are not new to us. From the tall skyscrapers to the magnificent dams… Civil Engineers have given life to various blueprints from the drawing table.

This one is totally out of the world…Engineers from Chicago in 1900s have achieved something totally unbelievable…they made a River flow backwards. The Chicago River that flows through the downtown actually was flowing towards the Michigan Lake before 1900…

In 1900, for health reasons the course of the river was changed, making it world’s only river to flow backwards. In 1854, a cholera epidemic took the lives of 5 1/2 per cent of the population. Deaths from typhoid fever between 1860 and 1900 averaged 65 per 100,000 population a year. The worst year was 1891, when the typhoid death rate was 174 per 100,000 persons. Disease resulting from water polluted by human waste brought about a state of emergency.

In 1887 it was decided to attempt a bold engineering feat and reverse the Chicago River. Rudolph Hering, chief engineer of the drainage and water supply commission, noted that the Great Lakes drainage system was separated from the Mississippi River drainage system by a summit or ridge approximately 8 feet high located some 12 miles west of the lake shore.

A plan was evolved to cut through that ridge with a canal from the southerly tip of the south branch of the Chicago River and carry the wastes away from the lake and down to the Mississippi River through the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers. The Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago was created in 1889 to effect this plan.The project was completed in 1900.

Who said "Man cannot triumph over nature"
I think it should be rewritten as "Man cannot triumph over nature outside Chicago".