ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
HIRAM NORTON'S DAMAGE CLAIM ARISING FROM A LOSS OF WATER POWER
May 5, 1848
When the canal was opened in April waters from the Des Plaines River were diverted to it at Lockport. This caused the river's flow to slow and this in turn hurt manufacturers along the river's banks who relied on the flow to power their machines. Hiram Norton, a former contractor for the canal, fully realized what the canal's opening would mean.
A group of manufacturers petitioned the canal trustees on May 5 to construct a hydraulic basin at Lockport to power their machines. Although the cost would be some $5,000 the petitioners argued that the former canal commissioners had promised that such a project would be undertaken. After studying the proposal, the trustees on May 8 unanimously agreed to a 260 foot wide and 330 foot long basin to be built by George Barnett and completed by November 1. It was to be located on the northwest side of the canal opposite Lockport blocks 91 and 102. Businesses using power generated by the canal's water were required to lease this privilege. Reference to Norton & Co. also is found in document 40, document 44, and document 46.
Points to Consider
What was Hiram Norton's complaint?
How were his flour and saw mills powered?
How did the Illinois and Michigan Canal rely on the Des Plaines River?
Was Norton entitled to $25 a day in compensation?