Lockport Area Genealogical and Historical Society

Lockport Area Genealogical and Historical Society Local society dedicated to preservation of history of Lockport Illinois and its families
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Here's wishing all of our friends a Thanksgiving filled with blessings, loved ones and gratitude!  Have a wonderful week...
11/22/2023

Here's wishing all of our friends a Thanksgiving filled with blessings, loved ones and gratitude! Have a wonderful weekend!

11/09/2023

Historical Photo of the Day: A view of early excavation for a new lock in Lockport, Illinois, on October 31, 1923. The new lock was built between 1923 and 1933 next to the original lock and the adjacent powerhouse and dam, both of which are still in operation. The new, much larger, lock was built by the state of Illinois and the federal government and opened in 1933, which provides the means for movement of larger vessels between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Learn about the history and management of the Chicago Area Waterway System here ⬇️⚓🐢
https://mwrd.org/chicago-area-waterway-system

11/07/2023

Historical Photo of the Day: A view of workers re-decking the 16th Street Bridge (now Division Street) over the Des Plaines River in Lockport, Illinois, on October 23, 1923. Learn about the history and management of the Chicago Area Waterway System here ⬇️⚓🐢
https://mwrd.org/chicago-area-waterway-system

Join our October Meeting!Brunson-Sisson Cemetery Relocation 25th Anniversary--with Gary WardGary will share the fascinat...
10/25/2023

Join our October Meeting!
Brunson-Sisson Cemetery Relocation 25th Anniversary
--with Gary Ward
Gary will share the fascinating story of the relocation of his ancestors' remains into the Lockport Cemetery 25 years ago.
Saturday October 28
Lockport White Oak Library
10:30 am. Doors open at 10
Our meetings are free and open to the public!

Happy Anniversary to our friends at Lockport-Asiago Sister Cities Program!
10/04/2023

Happy Anniversary to our friends at Lockport-Asiago Sister Cities Program!

Happy 9-year Anniversary to our Sister City- Asiago, Italy! We look forward to many more years of sharing our culture across the ocean!

Wire Mills RoadWire Manufacturing in Lockport    by Gary WardDivision St or 167th St used to terminate at the DesPlaines...
09/21/2023

Wire Mills Road
Wire Manufacturing in Lockport
by Gary Ward

Division St or 167th St used to terminate at the DesPlaines River. Maps from 1873 show a mill and a dam located on the west side of the river. Back in the 1880's it was known as Wire Mills Road. The area was located approximately ¾ SW of the Norton & Co. Hydraulic Mills (12th St). In 1886 the Grant Wire Co manufactured wire on the west bank of the DesPlaines River. Norton & Co also operated a Lime Kiln in the same location. Islands in the original river channel were crossed via wooden bridges for wagons and rail cars.

In 1887 a second access road over the I&M Canal and the DesPlaines River Valley was constructed. Prior to this there was only one way in and out of Lockport from the west (Ninth St/Rt 7 across the Seven Arch Bridge). The new road connected Wire Mills Rd/Division St with Bluff Rd on the west side of the valley. Today Bluff Rd is Rt 53.

By 1891 the area had grown considerably. Grant Wire Co. was gone and replaced by the Baker Wire Co. Chicago Wire and Spring Co., DesPlaines Valley Oat and Cornmeal Mill, and the E.Ellsworth & Co. Oatmeal Packing Plant all occupied sites along the west side of the DesPlaines River. The Norton Lime Kiln was still in operation.

Baker Wire Company. George C. Baker was born Dec 21, 1844 on a farm in Illinois. He fought in the Civil War with the 23rd Iowa Regiment at the age of 18 years. By 1879, he had invented machines for making barbed wire, built a small factory in Des Moines, IA, and entered the barbed wire business. While Joseph Glidden is generally considered the inventor of barbed wire, many other inventors developed and patented different versions of barbed wire. Hundreds of patents were submitted for barbed wire. In a growing country, barbed wire was a big business. George Baker had labor union issues in his Des Moines factory which prompted him to relocate his business. In 1887, he set up offices in Chicago and relocated the factory to Lockport, Ill along the west bank of the Des Plaines River.

While Baker made a fortune making barbed wire, he is best known for another invention. In 1888 he submitted plans to the Navy Department with a design for a submarine. He actually built a prototype of his submarine torpedo boat to compete with other inventors. The submarine design was patented in 1894. Baker did not win the submarine competition. On March 23, 1894 Baker died of an appendicitis at age of 49. His death also affected the barbed wire business

In 1895 the Baker Wire Company of Lockport was taken over by the Consolidated Barbed Wire Co. All the equipment from the Lockport plant was moved to Rockdale, Il (Rockdale grew up around the 20 acres owned by the wire companies). Several hundred men from Lockport continued their employment with the company. They used train, horse and buggy, and even by foot to get to the new plant site. After the Lockport mill's machinery and assets were transferred and with additional upgrades, Rockdale grew as a community and an industrial center. A hotel, residences, and taverns were constructed in the new community.

The days of the wire mills and grain processing along the west bank of the Des Plaines on Wire Mills Road were numbered. The Chicago Drainage Canal (Sanitary Ship Canal) was completed and opened in 1900. The original DesPlaines river channel through Lockport was blocked and diverted down the west side of the canal. This widened the new river channel (tailrace) significantly. The canal extension, which included a new lock, bear trap dams, emergency butterfly dam, and a power generating plant was still several years away, but the increase width of the DesPlaines due to the outflow of the Controlling Works and Bear Trap Dam caused the plants to relocate. Division St was diverted to clear the Santa Fe railroad tracks, the old river channel, and the new Drainage Canal Extension. A new swing bridge (Division/16th St) was built to cross the Drainage Canal and four sections were now needed to cross the DesPlaines on the west side of the new canal. The new three span, two lane truss bridges were 18 ft wide and 500 ft long. They are still in place but closed to traffic. The Division St swing bridge was removed during the 1980's.

Sources: 1886 and 1891 Sanborn Fire Ins Maps
Building the Canal to Save Chicago, by Richard Lanyon
Joliet Herald Evening News
LAGHS Archives

September Meeting this Saturday September 23!   Uncovering Free or Low-Cost Genealogical Resources:   Newspapers, Direct...
09/20/2023

September Meeting this Saturday September 23!
Uncovering Free or Low-Cost Genealogical Resources:
Newspapers, Directories and More

Presented by Linda Swisher of SSGHS
10:30 am
White Oak Library, Lockport Branch meeting room

Our meetings are free and open to the public. Come join us!

Address

222 E 9th Street
Lockport, IL
60441

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