Life Span: 1866-TBD
Location: Two miles East of Chicago Avenue
Architect: Ellis S. Chesbrough
Chicago Illustrated, August, 1866
CHICAGO is supplied with water from Lake Michigan, the water being drawn from a point about one mile north of the Chicago River. The emptyings of that river, into which the sewers of the city discharge, found their way to the water works, and were distributed through the pipes to all parts of the city. This became each such an intolerable evil, that it was resolved to secure pure water by other means. Mr. E. S. Chesborough, the City Engineer, projected a plan for obtaining the water as a point in the Lake two miles from the shore, and of conveying is through a tunnel to the city. The scheme was ridiculed greatly at the time, but its success has crowned its projector with deserved fame.
In October, 1863, the contract was let to Messrs. Dull and Gowran, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the prior being $515,187. The work was to be completed in two years, but the term was extended. Ground was broken on 17th of March, 1864. A shaft was made, in the shape of a well, to the depth of 69 feet. The tunnel was then commenced. The tunnel, when bricked up, was five feet in width and five feet two inches clear in height; the top and bottom arches semi-circular. Two miners worked at the excavation, and the brick work, eight inches thick, followed. The tunnel was to have a slope from the lake terminus of two feet to the mile. As the work progressed, rails were laid for the cars containing the excavations, and finally two small mules were introduced to pull these cars to and from the shaft. At intervals of one thousand feet, terra-cote were made, for the convenience of . In this way, the “Crib” destined for the lake terminus of the tunnel was launched and lowered to its place. This is of monster construction; it is composed of large timbers and iron. It is 40 feet high and 98 in diameter. It has three walls, making as many separate structures, one within the other. When finished it had fifteen watertight components. In the centre was the well through which the shaft was to be sunk. When the destination was reached, the gates were opened, and the huge structure settled gracefully upon the bottom of the Lake, in a depth of 30 feet of water. It was then firmly anchored and secured. It has since been covered, a fog-bell and light mounted upon it, and its appearance is faithfully shown in the picture.
An iron cylinder was then sunk for the lake shaft; it being forced to a depth of twenty-seven feet into the hard, blue clay. On the first of January, 1866, the work of tunneling from the crib commenced. At that time the tunnel from the shore had been extended 4,815 feet. The work then progressed steadily from both sides, and on the 25th of November, 1866, there was but a thin wall of two feet of clay separating the workmen. The work had thus proceeded:—Whole length of tunnel, 10,587 feet; excavated from the shore end, 8,275 feet; and from lake end, 2,200 feet; remaining, two feet. On December 6th, the last stone was laid with appropriate honors by Mayor Rice.
The successful completion of this unprecedented work will be followed by the erection of new and handsome buildings at the shore end, and the furnishing of them with new machinery. A new pumping engine, capable of pumping eighteen millions of gallons of water per day, has been purchased at a cost of $112,350. These buildings are but a mile from the heart of the city, and associated as they will be with this wonder of the age, will always prove an object of great interest to visitors, as they are of pride to the people of Chicago.
James. W. Sheahan, Esq.,
Two Mile Crib
By 1860, the city’s population had burgeoned to over 100,000, and the Chicago River had become a veritable cesspool as raw sewage and waste from the numerous slaughter houses and other industries flowed freely into it. With a significant number of its citizens dying from cholera and typhoid fever, the city hired Ellis Chesbrough in 1861 to serve as the Chief Engineer of the newly formed Board of Sewage Commissioners and tasked him with improving the city’s water supply and sanitary systems.
Chesbrough’s plan called for the excavation of a supply tunnel to connect a pumping station situated five miles inland to an intake crib located two miles out into Lake Michigan, well beyond the increasingly polluted shoreline. Dull & Gowan of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania signed a contract for the massive project on October 28, 1863. Construction began in May 1864, while miners and workers worked 24 hours a day and six days a week. The total completion of the project was on March 1867 and costing the city $380,784.
A wooden, double-walled crib, pentagonal in shape and with a height of forty feet, was built on shore and then towed into the lake by steam tugs and sunk in position by filling its hollow walls with stone. A cast-iron caisson was lowered inside the intake crib, appropriately named Two Mile Crib, and then driven into the lake floor. After the water was evacuated from the caisson, workers entered and excavated a vertical shaft to the prescribed depth before tunneling horizontally to meet the passageway being extended from shore.
Centered atop the crib was a rectangular building that contained a kitchen and bedrooms for the crib keepers along with storage space. Above this structure was a square tower that supported a birdcage lantern for displaying a light to warn mariners away from the manmade navigational hazard. The crib was also equipped with a fog bell that was struck once every minute during periods of poor visibility. Keepers lived on the crib year-round to tend the light and fog bell, and to operate the intake doors in the crib and keep ice from forming inside the crib.
The tunnel was completed on November 30, 1866, and the water system commenced operation the following year. Although the City of Chicago was responsible for maintaining the light and fog bell on the crib, these navigational aids did appear on the Lighthouse Service’s official List of Lights. In 1877, the Lighthouse Board noted that a proper light should “be placed upon the crib at the outer end of the tunnel of the Chicago water-works, to replace the present inefficient one, not under the control of the Light-house Establishment.” Four years later, the Board noted that they had reached an agreement with the City of Chicago to furnish the crib “with a third-order lens, lamps, &c, and set them in working order when the city builds the tower and lantern.”
Building the tower. Cribtenders lived in these offshore structures. Photo by John Carbutt
The Crib in the Lake, Two Miles From Shore. Lake Terminus of the Tunnels.
Cross section illustration of the two-mile crib and tunnel, from the 1869 Annual Report of Chicago’s Board of Public Works.
Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1865
The launch of the giant crib for the East end of the great lake tunnel was safely accomplished yesterday morning, after innumerable delays, extending through a period of several weeks. It was done so neatly and so easily as to astonish every one among the thousands who watched the passage from its native element into the water. It will be observed that we invert the usual phrase, according to which a vessel is native in the element to which it emegrates—a phrase, by the way, quite foreign to the subject.
It is now some weeks since the time first fixed upon her launch; first bad weather, then an accident, then bad weather, then more bad weather, then a breaking up of the sliding ways by collision with a vessel, and still again, another touch of bad weather, caused collectively a long delay. Very many of those who read the announcements that the launch would positively be made yesterday, disbelieved it, as the morning broke ominously; but for this fact the crowd would have been much greater. Yet there was no lack of attendance, and spite of the threatened wind and rain, the murky clouds, and the angry waters of the lake, the erecting contractor—Mr. Gowen, decided to venture, and was rewarded in one of the most complete successes on record.
The crib lay on the North Pier, a few rods west of the lighthouse, where it had been constructed, and where no doubt a majority of our citizens have seen it, either closely or at a distance. The latter was no difficult task as its huge unwieldy proportions made it a very conspicuous object. The monster resembles nothing at all, either in the heavens above or the waters beneath, and the only conceivable parallel would be the appearance of Gulliver’s Brobdingnagian box dropped down among the Lilliputians—the chances are that its advent there would have forever silenced their squabbles by breaking their egg at both ends, crushing them to atoms, and driving their island out of sight. It is certainty a monster egg for any ordinary mortal to break, and whichever end he he might essay he would find it a big one; let us hope that the chicken proposed to be hatched will prove it to be worth the trouble.
The crib is forty feet and a half high, and built in pentagonal form, in a circumscribing circle of ninety eight and a half feet diameter. We have previously described its construction minutely, and anything more than a brief recapitulation is therefore unnecessary. It is built of logs one foot square, and consists of three walls, at a distance of eleven from each other, leaving a central pentagonal space having an inscribed circle of twenty-five feet, within which will be fixed the iron cylinder, nine feet in diameter, to run from the water line to the tunnel, sixty-four feet below the surface and thirty-one feet below the surface and thirty-one feet below the bed of the lake at that point. The crib is thoroughly braced in every direction, so that it might be tumbled over and over without injury. It contains 750,000 feet of lumber, board measure, and 150 tons of iron bolts; it weighs about 1,800 tons. The outside is thoroughly caulked, equal to a first class vessel, with three threads in each seam, the first and last being what is called “horsed.” Over all these there is a layer of lagging which will keep the caulking in place, and protect the crib proper from the action of the waves. Above is a diagram of the crib, (horizontal section) with the cylinder inside.
The crib was placed on seven ways, each one hundred and forty feet long, dipping down into the water on the incline of one inch to the foot. It was let down on these two by two hundred and fifty screws, similar to those used in house moving and raising. At an early hour yesterday all the screws were got in position, and the ways greased. Nothing remained but the presence of the invited guests, to allow the great slide being taken.
The scene was decidedly a gay one. Seven tugs steamed about the mouth of the harbor, filled with eager spectators, small boats innumerable played on the surging water, the decks and rigging of numerous sail vessels were covered and filled, and the shore for a long distance in each direction was comfortably crowded. A vast amount of speculation was indulged in while the preparations were in progress, as to the success of what everybody
The tug, A.B. Ward, having on board Governor Oglesby, Col. Bowen and Col. Snyder of the Governor’s staff, U.P. Harris, Dr. Brainerd, several members of the Common Council, and the usual sprinkling of representatives of the Press, was the first to make the circuit of the crib, and soon with the tug Continental took a “line” and commenced to tow out the crib to its final resting place. This occupied about an hour and a half, the journey being rendered rather disagreeable by the drizzling rain which set in, and a decent swell, which, however, did not materially retard progress. Before noon the crib was in position, two miles from shore, in the middle of the anchors put down several days before, and whose places were marked by buoys, the lines cast off, and the tugs preparing to return to the city.
The only accident occurring to the party was a small one to the tug S.V.R Watson, which got her screw entangled in one of the buoys, and was unable to get clear till a boat was procured form shore; her passengers were transferred to the Ward. It is worthy of remark in this connection that no accident involving personal injury has occurred since the commencement of the work, nearly two years ago.
Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1868
On Saturday fternoon the three members of the Bard of Public Works, and Mr, Chesebrough, their Chief Engineer, took the tug O. B. Green, put at their disposal by Messrs. Fox & Howard. and went out to the crib for the purpose of seeing the state of affairs at that place, from which nothing had been heard for nearly two weeks.
The boat started from the State street bridge and went down the river, in which the ice is running with great speed. The oily matter upon the surface shows how thoroughly the bed of the stream is being stirred up by the rapid current. For a short distance beyond the elevators at the mouth of the river the way was clear; but beyond that came an ice field, through a portion of which the tug made her way with some difficulty. In some places it was bard to say whether the mixture was ice or water, so well were the two mixed up. Immense cakes of ice covered with snow, so white as to resemble coral, stirred by and rolled over like mimic icebergs. The effect of the river was plainly seen in the discoloration of the lake water, its rich green being changed into a muddy, neutral tint. Near the shore, at the point whence the old supply of water was drawn, the water wes peculiarly turbid, and it was a relief, in looking at it, to think that the days for drinking such stuff were over.
On the western edge of the ice field lying off the mouth of the river, the ice brought down stream had lodged, and there was a more offensive smell there than anywhere on the river itself. On one of those dirty cakes was a small dead pig, while on others were straw, manure, bits of wood, etc.
Upon reaching the crib and conversing with Mr. Gregg, who lives there, it was found, as the board supposed, that no damage had been done. Their trip, indeed, was not caused by any hear of a desire to verify Mr. Chesebrough’s idea that the discoloration of the water we drink was due to the stirring up of the bed of the lake wear the crib, due to the ice resting on it.
Mr. Gregg states that the ice only broke away from the crib on Saturday morning. For some time there rested against its southern face an thirty yards long and forty feet wide, and reach reaching up to the windows. The winds have generally been southerly during the last thirty days, and the pressure against the crib must have been enormous, but it was not injured in the slightest degree. When the ice was broken up, the large cakes would turn over and bring up blocks of stone as heavy as two men could lift, showing that the ice had been resting on the bottom, and had really caused the discoloration in the water.
The people at the crib had but one day’s fuel left; so after all that could be spared from the the had been given them, the board returned to the city, well satisfied with the condition in which everything had been found.
Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1873
The dusty mortals who look to Father Michigan this weather for relief from the parching atmosphere of summer seldom pause to consider the thousand necessary expedients by which the refreshing fluid is conveyed from its limpid reservoir to their dry and feverish lips. They look out from the lake-shore occasionally, and, pointing to the unsightly wooden structure nearly two miles off, say to the unsophisticated stranger ton the rural districts, “Yonder is our reservoir; there’s where we get our water from. It’s quite clean out there, too, because it comes from below the surface.” Quite clean. Well, it ought to be, after the wonderful efforts we have made to obtain it. We have tunneled the lake, and rung the changes on that feat until the world is tired of bearing of our performance. Now we are reporting the operation for the sake of posterity. Wonderful city, that tunnels the lake for the sake of posterity! But posterity here means only those who come to Chicago for the next five years. She has nearly doubled her population in the past half decade, and seriously anticipates a similar showing for the balance of that term.
But the wonders of engineering in tunnels is not
The Theme of To-Day,
for that is the old, old subject, the crib. Far out in the lake the shabby old building has stood for the past five years, a very useful but none too ornamental challenge to the mariner or the traveler to Chicago by the lake. It merely suggests to him:
- In me you receive the first faint indication of what you may see in Chicago. I am quite unworthy of your prolonged consideration, but merely stand here to show you that the city of which I am an insignificant portion does not hesitate to place. an outpost at that distance. Don’t let me detain you. Farewell.
Of course such a commonplace wooden structure is, as it says, quite unworthy of extended investigation. Hence the city is building a much more imposing affair of granite and sandstone. To do this it is necessary to pull down the present dilapidated shanty, and build upon its site.
of the new building are identical with those of the old one. The whole is a combination of stone and timber. It may appear strange to the aoinitiated that a massive structure of granite and stone should be erected upon a foundation of wood. It is strange—strange that the wood should never rot under water; but, though strange, it is nevertheless true. Piles have been raised at London Bridge which have been imbedded in the mud for some 1,300 years, or there-abouts. If our crib foundations will last as long as that, then posterity is pretty well provide for.
The crib, as everybody should know, is pentagonal in form, each face measuring 58 feet. across. The foundations are built of timbers 12 inches square, and filled in with rip-rap filling. Upon this bed, three feet below low-water mark, the foundations of the crib building are being constructed. The first course of six feet is of granite, upon which the limestone walls are built. The masonry is further solidified with concrete, and is about as substantial as it can be.
From the line of low water to
The Floor of the New Crib
is 7 feet, and from the same point to the highest part of the crib building is 23 feet. The tower, which is to be supplied with a very powerful lantern, is 72 feet in height, divided into four stories; a light-room 10 feet 6 inches in height, and a small store-room above this, 3 feet 6 inches high. This light will be a boon to mariners, who claim that the present feeble lantern
Cannot Be Seen
at a greater distance than three or four miles. This is a subject of vast importance. A heavy vessel running into the wooden crib would do immense damage to the crazy building as it now stands. When our rock-built crib is finished, what propeller, scow, or schooner will have the hardihood to ram her nose against it
was an eventful day in the history of the water service of Chicago. It was eventful as being the day fixed for laying the corner-stone of the new building, and quite a concourse of people assembled there in the afternoon. First and foremost was the engineer in charge of the whole tunnel and crib business, Mr. W. Bryson, whom a reporter interviewed a few days ago half a mile under the lake. There also were the Messrs. Steele, of the firm of Steele, McMahon & Steele, the contractors, and Mr. Gobel, of the firm of Earnshaw & Gobel, also contractors; Mr. Eisendrath, brick contractor for the work, and a host of others, whom the tug VanDalson (US No. 7310) conveyed out to witness the ceremony.
The sides of the wooden building had been torn down—its-shell, it seemed to be,—and a course of masonry had been laid all round it, except at the corners. When the tug arrived, several men were catching fat perch from the wooden island, and toothers were lolling about in a dirty mud-scow, awaiting, the arrival of the officials. On the dirty, mud-scow were lying, the five
weich. fog eight tons each. They were 6 feet square and 2 feet 6 inches thick. They came from a quarry near St. Louis and are well adapted to the purpose for which they are used, being extremely hard and capable of sustaining an enormous pressure. Everybody assembled, the mere matter of laying these monstrous masses was commenced. Each was raised with a derrick and lowered into its place. Its bed was
A Sack of Cement,
which, being laid upon the foundation, remained there of its own weight. The object of laying cement in sacks will be readily understood. Placed in the water with nothing to confine it, the cement would be washed away and lost. The sacks were made of a very coarse material, and the weight of the stone was sufficient to squeeze it through the interstices. By the time the sack rots away the cement will have become stone. The corner-stone was laid, and Mr. Bryson expressed himself highly pleased with the manner in which Messrs. Earnshaw & Gobel had performed their work, and spoke in the most complimentary terms of their efforts.
The stone being laid, the party looked over Mr. Bryson’s drawings of the new structure, and
Investigated the Crib.
Its appearance had changed immensely. The rooms had been torn to pieces, and temporary quarters were being occupied. The officer at crib has plenty of company now. Besides the masons, there is an assistant engineer, Mr. Clark, and a corps of men under him. A great part of the first floor is occupied by an engine and air-pump, the use for which will be explained below. During the investigation Mr. Clark, who took great pains to enlighten the visitors upon such points as they did not understand, asked of the reporter,
“Have You Ever Been Under Pressure?”
It was a singular query. The reporter said he had, and explained that the grocer refused to trust him any longer; his landlord clamored for back rent, and the contractor who built his clothes had been up to the office for him twice within a week. Mr. Clark thought he could put the reporter under a heavier pressure under the weight of three atmospheres, or 45 pounds to the square inch. Would the man of lead pencils and “small cap sub-heads” like to undergo the operation? The reporter, being unknown in fashionable circles, and therefore not likely to to be missed in the world, should the pressure be too much for him, warmly thanked his questioner and accepted the invitation.
Why The Pressure Is Needed,
But before giving an account of the experiences of an unfashionable person under pressure, it would be as well to give a little history of the need for pressure at the crib. Without further apology, here it is. The old tunnel which supplies the North Side pumping-works with the crystal stream of purest water, opens into a well in the crib. well was to be made, To supply the now tunnel, another and accordingly a shaft was sunk. An enormous iron cylinder 8 feet 6 inches in diameter was sunk in the crib to the depth of 88 leet below the surface of the lake, and nearly 70 feet beneath old Michigan’s bed. The shaft was sunk and everything went along comfortably. Then came the necessity of cutting in the iron cylinder a hole, the size of the new tunnel, where the perpendicular and horizontal bores were to meet. To accomplish this purpose, a circular mark of the required size, was made at the right depth. Holes were drilled through the thick iron wall, at this unpleasant depth, close together, and the intervening spaces broken through. The circle was divided across to facilitate the removal of the mass of iron, and it was taken out with ease. But behold,
The Clay Did Not Adhere
to the iron shaft evenly. The water from above came in in a tiny stream. The pressure upon the clay was too great, and the new shaft leaked. Here was a catastrophe. The water was rising in the shaft. The men endeavored to plug the holes, but the water still poured in, and, to make long story short, the shaft was full in no time. No lives were lost when the accident occurred, but the shaft was useless. It was of no to pump the water out, because Lake Michigan was practically inexhaustible, and the water would come in as fast as it went out. The hole could not be reached by a diver very comfortably, nor repaired if it was reached. There was only one way to reach it, and that was “pressure.” An air-pump, capable of exerting a pressure of about fifty pounds to the square inch, was rigged up; the cylinder was divided by a hermetically-sealed iron trap, about eight feet from its mouth, while the mouth itself was closed with another similar trap. The tube which conveyed the cylinder opened, by this means into an air-tight chamber, 8 feet 6 inches in diameter and about 6 feet in height. The upper trap was fastened. down, the lower one opened, and the air forced in. As the pump poured its air in the water was forced back into the lake from the place where it entered, until it reached the leak, but no further would it go. Here was a pressure of 45 pounds to the square inch. All that was necessary was to shut the lower trap or valve, let out the condensed air above, and open the upper one. All this was told the reporter afterwards, when he could understand it from personal investigation, and before he accepted Mr. Clark’s invitation.
The questions asked by the unfashionable man were readily and plainly answered by his now acquaintance, and, being fully satisfied of the insurmountable obstacle to his ever amounting to anything, he dressed like a miner in dirty overalls, a pair of rubber boots, and a waterproof jacket, and, borrowing a cap from a miner, prepared to descend “under pressure.” Skipping down into the little air-tight chamber, into which nobody appeared anxious to follow him, he was directed to hold a candle while Mr. Clark and an assistant, who was called Joe, and was exceedingly pleasant and agreeable, closed the upper iron and the trio were cut off from the world, daylight, and fashionable society.
“Do you feel nervous?” inquired Mr. Clark.
“No,” replied the reporter, who would not admit anything at that moment.
“You will find,” said the engineer, “that your ears will become affected. The Eustachian tubes are too small to let the air in readily but keep them cleared by holding your nose and blowing hard. Whenever you feel the effect, either painfully or otherwise, signal to me, and I will shut off the supply.”
The reporter said he certainly would, and told him to fire away, let in the air and try the effect. The wrench closed the tube which connected the chamber with the outer air, and a moment later partially opened that which connected with the air-pump. With a shriek the hot air rushed in, and in a moment the reporter’s ears were buzzing, and in a few seconds more it seemed as if some unkind wag was ramming a base-ball club into each ear. Mr. Clark saw his distress and kindly turned off the supply. “Swallow ” he said, that will relieve you.” The experiment succeeded and again the air rushed in. As his ears filled, the reporter swallowed, until his mouth was as dry as Dearborn street, or a bummer on Sunday. His efforts to swallow were fruitless. The situation became agonizing. The clubs were being thrust into his brain now, it seemed, and he could stand it no longer. “Have you a piece of lead” he shrieked to the engineer, “I can’t swallow, and the pressure is awful.” There was no lead to chew; nothing to provoke the salivary glands, not even a chew of tobacco. Happy thought, a bunch of keys. With infinite scrambling beneath the dirty over-alls the reporter found a pass-key, and, by dint of sucking upon it, produced the grateful moisture under his tongue and relieved himself from the pressure. In ten minutes the atmosphere became hot, almost intolerable. The density of was palatable. “How many pounds have you?” required the reporter. Joe and Mr. Clark gave a whistle. “We have only 9 or 10,” said the latter.
“You can’t whistle when we reach 30 pounds.” The air becomes so dense that you cannot stir it. The reporter tried to whistle while that privilege remained, but it was of no use.
Five minutes more. Mr. Clark said, “Are you getting tired of it,” but it sounded like ” Are you ire?”
“What ails your voice ?” asked the reporter, but he had no need to put the question. His own words sounded like “Wha our oi.” That was absurd. No one could make any meaning out of that, so he tried again, and by means of a great effort, splattered out his query. Gradually the system became accustomed to its unnatural surroundings and conversation, such as one hears between two gentlemen wondering how they came into the gutter, became possible, The shriekings from the air-pipe grew fainter and fainter; the pressure on the ear-drum more and more intense and difficult to dispose of; conversation resumed its previous abnormal style, when: click! the air was shut off. The two additional atmospheres had been achieved. The pressure in the chamber was 45 pounds to the inch. It was not so disagreeable after all—a trifle strange. The pulse had risen to a full galloping swing. It must have been driving along at 100 and over per minute. Hot,—wasn’t it hot! The three atmospheres repressed the perspiration, and the skin was as parched as the tongue had become again, and that was absolutely wooden. Breathing, was easy, not to say pleasant. A full breath was luxury. One’s brain appeared as clear as ever, but the eyesight was a trifle wavering.
Under The Lake.
The windlass was now called into requisition; and by its means the lower iron valve laboriously raised. Poor Joe! As he turned the windlass he looked fearfully ghastly. Perhaps the yellow light of the candles was responsible for this, but to stand still in that heat, unable to perspire, being simply intolerable, what must it have been to turn the windlass?
The valve raised, Mr. Clark bade the reporter look down. Would he care to venture down with his foot in a. noose, and investigate? Of course he would, and, after Mr. Clark had led the way, he followed, steering clear of platforms and valves, and all sorts of of rubbish, until he reached the bottom, and there Mr. Clark explained the cause of the catastrophe. The hole was clear under water, but something would be done as soon as the diver could examine it.
In order to show the amount of pressure in the cylinder, Mr. Clark drew from a hole drilled in the iron from wooden plug, less. than an inch in thickness. Instantly the air rushed out screeching, and the explorers could hear it bubbling up alongside their iron The suction was very strong, but one could put a finger through the hole and feel the water 65 feet below the bed of the lake.
One side of the tube, it was noticed, was moist and dark, while the other was dry and light. Mr. Clark said this phenomenon had puzzled him at first, but he had eventually accounted for it. The temperature of the clay was considerably lower than that of the water, which at that depth was only 53 degrees. That portion of the iron to which the clay adhered accordingly condensed the moisture, while the other did not. By this means he could tell where the water had forced its way in between the clay and the cylinder.
The locality, the bottom of a shaft, with a pressure of three atmospheres upon one, and articulation only possible by immense efforts on the part of the speaker, combined to induce the reporter to ascend, which he did.
“Hoist away,” shouted he to Joe, above, and the words sounded like “oe-ay,” but Joe hoisted. It was easy work going up. All one had to
to do with two hands was to hold the rope very tight, also hold the candle very tight, and at the same time steer through the scaffolding and valves lying loose above him. It was pleasant at top. The reporter flung his candle on the windlass and endeavored to get clear of the rope. “Don’t set fire to anything, please,” politely remarked Joseph, you cannot blow it out again, if you do. You can’t blow out a candle in this atmosphere.” The reporter thought he was joking. He put the candle very near his nose, and blew, but it was as Joe said. That candle could not be blown out.
Mr. Clark having returned to the surface, the lower valve was closed. The supply-tube was shut off, and preparations made for
Blowing Off Air.
“You will feel the same sensation in your ears as you did before,” said Mr. Clark, but not so severely. I will let the air out slowly;” and he turned the valve.
The shriek of the outgoing air was as if a hundred locomotives had agreed to whistle a match with the same number of steam-tugs under the reporter’s ear. It was horrible. The shriek grew more and more intense; the air bubbled from the ears as the pressure diminished, a dense mist rose as the moisture was given out from the air; the candles were cancelled; it grow dark, sickening; the head swam, the heart seemed crazy and leaped and thumped like a battering-ram on the ribs; a moment more and all consciouses would have left, When
The upper valve, supported alone by the atmospheric pressure below, fell in, the air in the chamber simultaneously rushed out, and the confined air in the Eustachian tubes of the ear sought its equilibrium, with an explosion which, though in itself insufficient to scare a fly, sounded like the report of a cannon, The vapor rose from the mouth of the chamber, and the investigator, limp, and trembling in every nerve and fibre, jumped up with all the vigor he could master. The cause of this exertion was a little knot of ladies who had sailed out to see the crib in a yacht, and, hearing that a reporter was down investigating, wanted to see whether he would come out alive.
It appears that the nervous prostration which followed the reporter’s return to wholesome air is an invariable result of such experiences.
Working under that pressure for a long spell ends in paralysis and death. In St. Louis, quite recently, several deaths occurred from this cause.
Dressed and washed, the reporter thanked his paide, to whom the reader is indebted for the above experiences. And away steamed the tug with as merry a party as ever left the crib.
The Rebuilt Two-Mile Crib
Leave a Reply