As a young girl I can recall countless car rides where we’d head over the Thornton Quarry via Interstate 80 and peek out the windows into that big, deep hole.
My sister-in-law Cory was convinced they named it after her. Every time we’d drive by I was mesmerized and wondered what went on there.
This year I had three opportunities to head down into the quarry, inside both the north and south lobes of the quarry as well as inside the deep tunnel.
Not many can say saw all three, and no one will be able to going forward, because the deep tunnel system has now gone live and the north lobe of the quarry will now serve as a reservoir for the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
The first of the the tours was with the Thornton Historical Society, as tour buses brought visitors down into the south lobe to pick up a few souvenirs - rocks with a variety of underwater fossils visible on them.
The second trip was into the north lobe, where the MWRD took groups by bus for a last look before the Deep Tunnel Project went live.
On the third trip I was lucky enough to go down with a media group into the tunnel as the final work was being done, led by senior civil engineer Adel Awad, who spoke of the project with great passion, comparing the completion to raising a child - something that requires much patience, but that gives such a sense of satisfaction and pride.
Learn more about the Thornton Reservoir and the Deep Tunnel Project at the next meeting of the Lansing Historical Society, at 6 p.m. Monday in the community room at the Lansing Public Library.
Mary Carroll, community education specialist with the MWRD will feature the history of the MWRD, which began as the Sanitary District of Chicago. Guests will get an overview of how the waterways were pristine until the rivers became a dumping ground. Because these rivers flowed into Lake Michigan, drinking water became polluted and caused waterborne disease epidemics.
Carroll will explain what the MWRD did to improve water quality then and now.