As originally planned, Lockport was destined to be an important city along the Illinois Michigan Canal for hydraulic power. This was due to the fact that there was an approximate 40 foot drop between this city and Joliet. As originally planned, the proximal portion of the canal was to have a deep cut. This would result in a reverse in the normal course of the Chicago River and an abundant water supply for the canal. Because of this, the design for Lock 1 and Lock 2 was unique to harness this potential hydraulic power.
However, financial troubles during construction resulted in a modification of the canal plans. The deep cut was abandoned for a cheaper shallow cut. Pumps were needed to supply water from the Chicago River into the canal. A feeder from the Calumet River was constructed to provide an additional water source. Even with these measures, water supply was not equal to what it would have been originally.
However, despite this limitation, the hydraulic basin was ultimately proposed in 1848 in Lockport. It was completed in 1852. The contractor was George Barnett. It measured 260 feet by 330 feet. It was located to the north and the west of the canal. It was located around 12th street. Water entered the basin from the I and M canal. Ultimately, it was discharged into the Des Plaines River 19.35 feet below the basin. Two of the businesses that utilized the power of the basin included a flour mill and a paper mill.