Winter'13

From the President

By David G. Barber

A frustration in this hobby of canals is not being able to find photos of structures that you feel in your bones must exist. One of those sites for me is Lock 5 on the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

As the canal went away from Chicago, it began locking down with numbered locks at Lockport. After passing through four locks, it joined with and crossed the Des Plaines River in slack water. The towpath then proceeded down the right hand bank of the slack water until reaching the Jackson Street Dam. Lock 5 was at the right hand end of that dam and lowered the canal into the pool of the Jefferson Street Dam. The towpath then continued along the pool of the Jefferson Street Dam until it left the river just above that dam and then followed an independent course (except for the slack water crossing of the DuPage River) until it reached the end of the canal at Lock 15 in LaSalle. There was a guard lock where the canal left the river near the Jefferson Street Dam and bridges over the river there and just below the Jackson Street Dam. The towpath changed sides of the canal at the Jefferson Street Bridge.

When the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal was built around 1900, the Jefferson Street Dam and the guard lock were removed and a wall was built separating the canal from the river between Jefferson Street and Lock 5 at Jackson Street. But, Lock 5 remained just above the Jackson Street Bridge. Lock 5 and the Jackson Street Dam were removed when the Illinois Waterway was built around 1933 and replaced by a new concrete lock that still exists just across the grass from the Brandon Road Lock. The replacement lock no longer operates and has a concrete “V” shaped dam at the upper gate pockets. Access to the replacement lock is prohibited by Corps of Engineers signs, but it is visible from US 6.

What I find difficult to accept is that in the several decades of photography before 1930 including the postcard era, no one appears to have aimed a camera at Lock 5. That is despite it being just upstream of the Jackson Street Bridge in the middle of the city of Joliet. There are photos of the canal downstream of the dam, there are photos across the dam with the lock behind the photographer, there are photos of the guard lock being removed, there are photos looking upstream of the dam on the Lewis University web site with the lock darkly on the left edge (although the caption says its on the right of the photo). But, there are no clear photos of the lock itself. It would have been easily visible to anyone walking across the bridge. There are photos of the other locks on the canal. I have not had the opportunity to visit the Lewis University library to see if there are unpublished photos of Lock 5 there.

So, can anyone fill in this gap in the photographic record.

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