Directions

To sites 18 and 19
Continue north on Baltimore Avenue to 130th Street
Turn west (left) on 130th Street and continue past Torrence Avenue and over the 130th Street Bridge 
At the bottom of the bridge turn south (left) at the Army Corps of Engineers sign and follow the road to the O'Brien Locks and wetland area.
Leave the O'Brien Lock area and drive east (left) on 130th Street to Torrence Avenue

Aerial view of the entrance to Lake Calumet in the early 1960's
18) O'Brien Locks
The first person to recommend the improvement of the Calumet Harbor and River, was Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, who, in 1833, was sent to Calumet by the government to make a topographical survey of the region. He made his recommendations because the Calumet River had a good natural depth, and because Lake Calumet would make a good naval station, such as the one north of Chicago.

The depth of the Calumet River, after improvements, conforms approximately with the St. Lawrence Seaway standard of 26 ½ feet. The river, instead of flowing toward Lake Michigan as nature intended, runs away from the lake to the Mississippi River. The O'Brien Locks were built to monitor the flow and also to prevent stream backup. In 1922, the original lock was located near Blue Island. Then, in 1956, a larger lock was authorized as part of the Cal-Sag project to enlarge the waterway, for more efficient barge transportation. The Thomas J. O'Brien Lock was completed in 1960 with a width of 110 feet and a length of 1,100 feet.

The Cal-Sag Channel was built to reverse the flow of the surface streams and to divert sewage away from Lake Michigan. It has proved to be useful to barge transportation. 

Located north of the banks of the Calumet River are landfills. The "mountain of garbage", as it is often called, was constructed because space in the old landfills was running out. So the wetland areas were used for waste disposal. The nearby residents in Altgeld Gardens blame high incidents of cancer on these landfills. Presently, the conditions are improving. This is partly due to the new side-stream aeration pools along the waterway and partly due to better construction of landfills, better sewage treatment, stronger environmental awareness, and environmental regulation. There is a very interesting small wetland area located next to the Waste Management landfill. Also be sure to view the information kiosk in the parking lot. It is maintained by CEPA, a local environmental group. 

19) Ford Plant (130th and Torrence Avenue)


Ford Motor Company Along Calumet River
Ford purchased a large tract of land easily accessible by water and rail along the Calumet River in South Deering and began construction of its second largest assembly plant in the United States. In spite of the economic depression that followed the 1929 stock market crash Americans fascination with cars continued. To meet demand, production at the Chicago Plant was 5,000 cars per month in the mid 1930's.
 
Ford Contributes to the War Effort

The 1940's was a decade of change at Ford. In March 1942 the last civilian car was produced at the Chicago Assembly Plant (CAP) and production of M-8 armored cars and M-20 reconnaissance armored units was begun. On Dec. 7, 1945 the two door Mercury sedan marked the return to production of civilian cars. 

During the 50's, 60's and 70's, Ford kept increasing production according to the growing demand of Americans. City and state dignitaries helped CAP celebrate production of its 5,000,000th unit on February 8, 1972, a day the mayor proclaimed Ford Day in Chicago. For the last nine decades Ford has ben supplying Chicago not only with hundreds of jobs but with cars as well.  The Taurus, which is produced at the Torrence Avenue Ford Plant, became the nation's best selling passenger car in 1992. 

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