“The Jordan ran backward.” (114:3)
As the city of Chicago grew in the late 1800’s, it relied heavily on Lake Michigan for drinking water. The pollution-laden Chicago river dumped its sewage into the lake, contributing to public health problems like cholera and typhoid fever. In 1900, an agency of the State of Illinois, using a series of canal locks from Lake Michigan to the Des Plaines river, increased the flow from Lake Michigan and reversed the flow of the Chicago river away from the lake. Ultimately, this water drained into the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico. One of the greatest engineering feats of its time ensured that Chicago would take a place among the great cities of the United States.