River /ˌkæljuːˈmɛt/ is a system of heavily
industrialized rivers and canals in the region between the
neighborhood of South
Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, and the city of
Gary, Indiana. Historically, the Little Calumet
River and the Grand
River were one, the former flowing west from Indiana into
Illinois, then turning back east to its mouth at
Lake Michigan at
Marquette Park in Gary.
2 Segments of the Calumet
2.1 Calumet River
2.2 Grand Calumet River
2.3 Little Calumet River
2.4 Cal-Sag Channel
3 See also
5 External links
The name "Calumet" is from the French colonial name for a particular
type of Native American ceremonial pipe that served as a universal
sign of peace among the Illiniwek, and which was presented to Pere
Marquette in 1673.
Before human alteration, water flowed westward from LaPorte County,
Indiana, along the Little Calumet River, made a hairpin turn at Blue
Island, and flowed east along the Grand Calumet into
Lake Michigan at
Miller Beach community of Gary, Indiana. The area is extremely
flat and the course and even the direction of the river system has
changed repeatedly. The low gradient gives the river only a very small
Industrial development in the Calumet
River area began around the
1870s, and by 1890 the western reach of the Grand Calumet
heavily polluted with the waste of steel mills, foundries, a meat
packing plant, and glue and cornstarch factories. Industry continued
to spread along the eastern reach of the river between 1890 and 1910,
with similar results. These decades of unrestricted pollution have
left the river sediments highly contaminated to this day.
In September 2008, areas of Lake and Porter County, Indiana, were
declared national disaster areas. The Little Calumet
its levee and flooded portions of the towns of Munster and Highland,
Segments of the Calumet
Map of area rivers
The Calumet River, on the south side of Chicago, originally simply
Lake Calumet to Lake Michigan. A canal extending it,
legendarily claimed to have been created by voyageurs at the site of a
frequent portage, was dug connecting the two Calumet Rivers at the
point where the name now changes from Grand to Little.
Grand Calumet River
Main article: Grand Calumet River
The Grand Calumet River, originating in Miller Beach, flows 16.0 miles
(25.7 km) through the cities of Gary, East
Hammond, as well as Calumet City and Burnham on the
Illinois side. The
majority of the river's flow drains into
Lake Michigan via the Indiana
Harbor and Ship Canal, sending about 1,500 cubic feet (42 m3) per
second of water into the lake. Today, a large portion of the river's
flow originates as municipal and industrial effluent, cooling and
process water and storm water overflows. Although discharges have been
reduced, a number of contaminants continue to impair the area.
Little Calumet River
Residents boat through floodwaters of the Little Calumet in Munster in
The Little Calumet
River originally flowed in New Durham Township,
LaPorte County, Indiana, to its junction with the Grand Calumet and
Calumet rivers, but construction of the Burns Waterway in 1926
effectively cut the Little Calumet
River into a west and an east arm.
The west arm is now known as the Little Calumet
River proper, and it
flows through or borders the towns of Portage, Lake Station, Gary,
Highland, Griffith, Munster, and Hammond, then through South Holland,
Dolton, Lansing, Calumet City, Harvey, Riverdale, Phoenix, Dixmoor,
Burnham, and Blue Island in Illinois, connecting at the junction of
the Grand Calumet
River and Calumet River. This arm of the river is 41
miles (66 km) long. Its flow has been divided by the Burns
Waterway since 1926 with the portion east of Hart Ditch in Munster
flowing east to the Burns Waterway and out to Lake Michigan, and the
portion west of Hart Ditch in Munster flowing west to the Calumet
River and Cal-Sag Channel. The Little Calumet has 109 miles
(175 km) of river and tributaries and drains 213 square miles
(550 km2). The major tributaries are Deep
River and its Turkey
Creek sub-tributary, and the Salt Creek tributary of the East Arm
Little Calumet River. Each tributary originates on the Valparaiso
Moraine and flows north to the Little Calumet River.
The East Arm Little Calumet River, also known as the Little Calumet
River East Branch begins just east of Holmesville in New Durham
Township, LaPorte County, Indiana, and also flows through Chesterton,
Porter, and Burns Harbor where it connects to the Port of
Indiana-Burns Waterway. It has a total length of 22 miles
(35 km). It used to continue westward to
Illinois as the
Little Calumet River, but construction of the Burns Waterway in 1926
diverted its flow into Lake Michigan.
Until sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s, the Little Calumet
River was heavily polluted with sewage, and the only fish living in
the river were carp. During heavy spring rains, the river would often
flood areas adjacent to the river.
The Little Calumet
River has been undergoing construction of a $200
million flood control and recreation project by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 1990. The project was
expected to be complete in 2013. The project includes construction of
22 miles (35 km) of levees and floodwalls, a control structure at
Hart Ditch, and almost 17 miles (27 km) of hiking trails.
Additionally, seven miles (11 km) of the river channel is being
relocated to allow better water flow, and highway bridges are being
modified to permit unobstructed flow of water. A flood warning system
is also being implemented. When complete, the project will protect
over 9,500 homes and businesses in the towns of Gary, Griffith,
Hammond, and Munster in Indiana, and prevent nearly $11 million in
flood damage annually. On September 15, 2008, the remnants of
Hurricane Ike released heavy rain which flooded the banks of the
Little Calumet River. Houses and strip malls in northern Munster and
southern Hammond were evacuated. Hundreds of homes were damaged due to
flooding. Recently, a new levee, along Northcote Avenue in Munster, is
being built to protect residents from future floods.
The Cal-Sag Channel navigation canal
The Cal-Sag Channel (short for "Calumet-Saganashkee Channel") is a
navigation canal in southern Cook County, Illinois. It serves as a
channel between the Little Calumet
River and the
Chicago Sanitary and
Ship Canal. It is 16 miles (26 km) long and was dug over an
11-year period, from 1911 until 1922.
The Cal-Sag Channel serves barge traffic in what was an active zone of
heavy industry in the far southern neighborhoods of the city of
Chicago and adjacent suburbs. As of 2006 it was also used more as a
conduit for wastewater from southern Cook County, including the
Chicago-area Deep Tunnel Project, into the
Illinois Waterway. It is
also used by pleasure crafts in the summer time.
The western 4.5 miles (7.3 km) of the channel flow through the
Palos Hills Forest Preserves, a large area of parkland operated by the
Forest Preserve District of Cook County.
The Cal-Sag Channel served as the rowing venue for the 1959 Pan
The Calumet-Sag Trail, a 26-miles-long (41 km) greenway, will
border the channel and will stretch from the
Chicago Sanitary and Ship
Canal to the Burnham Greenway when it is completed.
Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal
List of Indiana rivers
^ a b c Little Calumet
River Watershed Management Plan (PDF) (Report).
Indiana Department of Environmental Management. 2008. Retrieved
September 3, 2017.
^ Project Management Plan Archived 2007-12-03 at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset
high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at
WebCite, accessed May 19, 2011
^ a b State of Indiana Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program
Environmental Assessment (PDF) (Report). National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. September 2007. p. 13. Retrieved
^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little
^ Our Community & Flooding – Federal Programs Archived
2006-08-31 at the Wayback Machine.
^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: East Arm
Little Calumet River
Chicago Dist – Little Calumet
River Home Archived 2007-06-13
at the Wayback Machine.
^ Lyke, Bill (29 August 1959). "Drive Out to the Pan-Am Gamnes!".
Chicago Tribune. pp. B1. Retrieved 14 August
2009. [permanent dead link]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Calumet River.
US EPA Area of Concern
Prairie Rivers Network
TopoQuest, Cal Sag and Little Calumet
Chicago – Calumet
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