Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Area

By Kenneth J. Schoon | Go to book overview

5
INDUSTRIALIZATION OF THE
GRAND CALUMET RIVER AND THE
INDIANA HARBOR SHIP CANAL

MANY OF THE HEAVY INDUSTRIES THAT WERE LOCATED SOUTH of the lakefront area were in Lake County and bordered either the Grand Calumet River or the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal. By 1960 the Grand Calumet River was nothing like it was in 1860.

At that earlier time, the river was a slow-moving, clear and unpolluted, westward-flowing stream. Near its headwaters, the lagoons in Miller, was the Miller (Calumet) Gun Club, a hangout for wild-game hunters. Near the state line was the Hohman Bridge, one of the only bridges to cross the river. In 1860, it stood next to a six-room log cabin and inn just north of the river run by Ernst and Caroline Hohman, the area’s first settlers.


HAMMOND

In the mid-1860s George Hammond, the owner of a meat market and slaughterhouse in Detroit, had a rail car specifically designed to ship meat. It was insulated and had built-in containers for plenty of ice to keep the car’s interior cool. He then became the first merchant in the United States to ship meat in a properly refrigerated rail car. Because he owned the patent, he had exclusive rights to all such cars.1

So pleased was Hammond with this new type of transportation that in 1869 he decided to open a plant in the Chicago area to take advantage of its stockyards and abundance of potential customers. He and his partner Marcus Towle found a rather vacant spot just east of the Illinois-Indiana state line. The Indiana location was close enough to the Chicago stockyards, adjacent to the Grand Calumet River where every winter his crews would cut and store ice, and far-enough away from any populated areas

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