In order to maintain the water level on the Illinois Michigan Canal, the planners proposed a series of feeder canals. These included the Fox River Feeder, the Kankakee River Feeder, the DuPage River Feeder, and the Calumet River Feeder. The water level situation was aggravated by the failure to implement the deep cut on the Summit Division of the Canal.
The Calumet River Feeder was first proposed in 1830. A law passed in 1837 authorized the construction of the feeder canal. A survey of the canal route was started in 1845. After its completion, construction was begun in 1848. The canal was completed in 1849. It was 4 feet deep.
The feeder canal extended from the Little Calument River to the I and M Canal at the Sag Bridge in Lemont. It was 17 miles in length. It was 26 feet in width at the channel bottom and 40 feet at the surface. The footpath was on the North side.
There was a dam built at the Little Calumet River. Its purpose was to raise the water level to aid in filling the feeder canal. There were gates at the dam to raise and lower the water levels. The first canal boat traveled the feeder to Blue Island on July 22, 1849.
The feeder was in operation for approximately 20 years. It was abandoned by I an M Canal Commissioners in the 1870’s because it was no longer needed to supply water to the canal.
The dam on the Calumet River was a constant source of irritation to upstream farmers due to episodes of recurrent flooding. In March of 1874, the Illinois State Assembly passed An Act to Authorize Removal of the Feeder Dam Across the Calumet River Near Blue Island in the County of Cook, State of Illinis. In 1875, a group of farmers upset with the delay in implementing this act took matters into their own hands and blew up the dam.