Cal-Sag Channel


In 1911, Chicago broke ground for a channel to connect the Calumet River to the Sanitary Drainage and Ship Canal just north of Lockport. The Cal-Sag Channel's western end passes just south of the "Saganashkee Slough" between 104th Avenue and Archer Avenue at the border of Cook and DuPage Counties. The accompanying photograph shows workers at the start of the canal in 1912, just west of Halsted Street and West 130th Street. The surrounding communities had begun as farm towns, but grew along with the nearby industry's increased access to railroads and the Calumet Harbor. The Cal-Sag Channel opened in 1922, and reversed the flow of the Calumet River. Initially designed as a sewage canal, the Cal-Sag Channel soon carried heavy commercial traffic. During the 1930s, the Cal-Sag Channel grew in importance, as Lake Calumet Harbor became the city's busiest port. In the 1950s, the channel was amended again to meet the growing needs of the recently completed St. Lawrence Seaway. For a history of Chicago's canal system, see: Chicago Public Library, "Down the Drain: The Big Ditch," The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago's website includes a map of the Cal-Sag Channel's course:

Labor Trail

Chicago History Museum, DN-0057811

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at:

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer