The two-mile tunnel under Lake Michigan proposed by Ellis
Chesbrough in 1863 brought him international fame when it was completed
and, with its remarkable Two-mile Crib intake structure, was heralded as
the eighth wonder of the world. Tunnel construction began in May 1864 and
then continued for 24 hours a day and six days a week. A lower
semicircular arch was dug and built about six feet in advance of the upper
arch. Two men could work side by side, with the miners in front and the
masons laying brick about 10-20 feet behind.
Two small mules were found to work in the tunnel, pulling
railroad cars to move clay out and building materials in. Digging
proceeded first from the shore end and later from the lake end of the
tunnel. Chesbrough and a few other dignitaries descended into the tunnel
to remove the final inches separating the two tunnels in November 1866.
The mayor placed the final masonry stone, and fresh water from the lake
entered the tunnel for the first time with great fanfare in March 1867,
bringing pure unpolluted water into the city through the structure.