Harrison & Dever Intake Cribs Seeing The Light

Off Chicago Harbor, Illinois Home Back

Harrison 01 Terry Pepper
Harrison 02 Terry Pepper
Harrison 03 Terry Pepper
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Historical Information

Carter H Harrison 4 TErry PepperConstruction of the Carter H. Harrison water intake crib was completed in 1900. Similar in design and construction to the Dunne crib, this new crib was named in honor of a past Chicago Mayor - Carter Henry Harrison who served as Chicago Mayor from 1879 until 1887. While he was re-elected to a fifth term in the position in 1893, and was assassinated before he could complete his term.

Lying 2.1 miles North-Northeast of Chicago Harbor Light, at the north side of the harbor entrance, the new crib was built of stone, with the outer walls of the dwelling and well chamber faced with hydraulic pressed brick, and the inner walls of the well chamber and entrance hall faced with white enameled brick. According to a contemporary report, “the living rooms are provided with all modern conveniences.”

Carter H Harrison 5 Terry PepperCapped with a Silver gray lantern on red skeleton pyramidal tower, an acetylene burner was surrounded by a red glass chimney within the 300 mm lens to provide a characteristic single red flash every 3 seconds. As was the case with all the cribs, the fog signal was made on a bell with automated striking mechanism which rang the crib’s characteristic group of 3 strokes every 30 seconds.
Showing signs of age after only thirty years, plans were already underway to replace the Harrison crib with a new structure by 1930.

Carter Harrison 06 Terry PepperThat new structure was to be the William E. Dever crib, again named for Chicago Mayor William Emmett Dever who served from 1923 to 1927 and left is stamp on the city in the way of a massive series of public works initiated during his administration. The new Dever Crib was erected alongside the Harrison in 1935. The main vertical component of the structure was built of reinforced concrete, and stood in 32 feet of water. Beneath this central shaft, the vertical shaft continued down to a depth 190 feet below lake level to connect with the horizontal tunnel to the pumping station. The 75 foot diameter steel well house was fabricated onshore, and on completion was floated out to the site in the tow of tugs in much the same way as Chesbrough’s first timber crib had been towed into the lake almost 60 years previous, and installed atop the central concrete column. After construction was complete, the light was relocated from the skeletal tower on the Harrison crib to the apex of the higher roof of the new structure.

Carter Harrsion 07 Terry PepperWith the Dever crib fully functional, the Harrison crib was taken out of operation in 1936. However, this was a situation that was not to last. As water requirements in the city continued to grow, the Harrison crib was reactivated some time thereafter. The light on the Dever crib was replaced with a quick-flashing white light powered by electricity in 1976, and an automatically operated modern diaphragm fog signal installed. The aging Harrison crib was again removed from service in 1998 after the tunnel system below caved-in when it was de-watered for an inspection.

Seeing this Light

Because all of Chicago's intake cribs are located in the lake beyond the breakwater system, only very distant views can be obtained from anywhere on shore and a private boat or charter boat represent the most realistic way to view these structures. Both the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association and the United States Lighthouse Society offer infrequent tours of the suth end of Lake Michigan, both of which have always provided great close-up views of this and the other water intake cribs.

GPS coordinates: 41°54'58.02"N x 87°34'20.12"W

Refrence sources

Annual reports of the City of Chicago Department of Public Works, various
Great Lakes Light Lists, various

Copyright Terry Pepper. This page last modified 09-30-2012. 

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