Archive for the ‘Water’ Category


June 3, 2018

One of our librarians found this small sign in an antique store and brought it to my attention.  Now I’m bringing it to yours.

Does anyone know what this might refer to?  Was it before the village of Schaumburg became a member of the Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency (JAWA) and began receiving water from Lake Michigan in December 1985?  The village was using a number of wells at the time.  Was there a water shortage in Schaumburg before the pipeline became available?  Or was this restaurant just being environmentally aware?

If this rings a bell with you please leave a comment below or send me an email.  The action by this restaurant is a new one on me!

****************After reading some of the comments, talking to a village board member and doing a bit of research, it seems the water situation in the northwest suburbs was becoming tenuous in the late 1970s due to both the explosion of growth and very dry summers in 1976 and 1977.  An article from the Chicago Tribune of March 20, 1977 says, “A long dry spell has left many suburban water wells unusually low, raising the threat of summer water rationing and strict controls… The state is going into spring with a rainfall 12 inches below normal, and suburban water officials already are talking about drastic action if the drought runs into summer.”

One of Schaumburg’s village board members mentioned that there was an ordinance that was passed in the late 1970s or early 1980s regarding water restrictions, and restaurants were included in that ordinance.  To her recollection–and this was before her time on the village board–it was only in existence for five years or so until Lake Michigan water became available. *********************

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


November 19, 2017

This is an aerial photo of the “W” Section of the Weathersfield development in 1959.  It is at the corner of Schaumburg and Springinsguth roads.  Some things stand out.  The grading of Weathersfield Commons has already begun–or maybe that’s where equipment and trailers were kept during the construction process? There is a farm to the west–or left–of the development.  And, then, there’s a small, white, circular disk in the lower portion that appears to be almost as big as a couple of the nearby houses combined.

That disk is one of the first two community water reservoirs that were built in the newly incorporated town of Schaumburg.  This reservoir is on property that is adjacent to Campanelli School.

When Campanelli Brothers began construction of Weathersfield, the first order of business had to be a water supply for the multitude of houses they had planned.  Weathersfield Utilities, which was owned by Campanelli, built the concrete reservoir.  After a battle for control between Weathersfield Utilities and Citizens Utilities that handled water for nearby Hoffman Estates, the Village of Schaumburg opted for a municipally-owned utility such as they have today. [Hoffman Herald, August 13, 1959]

In this 1972 aerial photo contributed by John Kunzer who instigated this blog posting, you can see the round reservoir as well as the small building that housed the pump station directly below it.

This is what is left today of that reservoir.


When the village moved from a system of wells, storage tanks and pump stations in the 1980s to Lake Michigan water, the old water supply system was largely let go.  This reservoir was filled in and torn down somewhere between 1997 and 2000.

As John Kunzer said, “I grew-up in the W section about a block west of Campanelli. As a child in the 70s I never thought much about the big cement dome, but knew it had something to do with water. It was many years later that I realized it had been our fresh water source. I recall the well water was pretty hard, and we had a water softener under the counter in our kitchen.”

This Google image from Mr. Kunzer shows what remains today from an aerial view.

Do you have memories of any of the other obsolete water tanks in Schaumburg?  Where were they located?  Of course some tanks are still standing that are there in case of emergency.  How about the big tanks off of Wise that say “HOT” and “COLD?”  Can’t beat the village’s sense of humor on that one!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


October 29, 2017

The water in the shallow spring was so good and so fresh that they drove from Chicago to fill their jars and bottles.  The drivers pulled over on the north side of Golf Road between Plum Grove and Meacham–closer to Meacham–and took advantage of the water that was bubbling up out of the ground.  Once out of the car, it was just a jump across the ditch that bordered the road.  In early years the drivers had to place their container close to the spring in order to fill it.  Later, someone placed a pipe in the spring to channel the flow into the containers.

This small artesian spring bordered a farm that Paul Engler and his wife, Nellie, managed for Frank Rathje, a well-known attorney.  Paul and Nellie’s son, Bill, remembers the spring and how crystal clear and cold the water was.  It was in a low area and, even if the summer was a dry one, the spring continued to flow.  It only stopped for good when the Hoffman Estates water tower was built. The tower and subsequent demand lowered the water table that fed the spring.

I would imagine it looked something like this:

The geography of our township was impacted thousands of years ago by extensive glacier activity that distributed a great amount of rocky till (sand and debris) and left us a high water table. The artesian springs littered throughout Schaumburg Township were a direct result of water finding its way above ground because the pressure underground was greater than the pressure at the surface.  These springs had a bubble or flow that was visible to the naked eye.  There were also low areas where water continually seeped to the surface, forcing farmers to either get creative trying to contain the water or to tile their fields with drainage tile.

Below are some of the mentions of artesian springs in Schaumburg Township:

The area with the greatest number of artesian springs was appropriately named Spring Valley by Eleonore Redeker Ackerman and her Grandpa Boeger in the 1920s.   Their Boeger ancestors were original land grant purchasers in the 1840s.  The first mention we see in print of this grouping of springs  is on the cover of this 1900 farm ledger donated to us by LaVonne Thies Presley.

The Wilkening Creamery was built around 1898 on the small branch of Salt Creek that flows under Schaumburg Road through Spring Valley and is seen below.  It was located on the north side of Schaumburg Road and one of the draws had to be the springs that were nearby.  The springs provided unlimited cool water for this bustling creamery.

In a 1974 account of his time on the property, Eleonore’s brother, Herman Redeker, makes mention of the springs:  “…in 1881, the barn and wind mill…were built, also the grain and tool sheds adjoining. Smaller buildings were built, including one which housed a water wheel for power, used to run the butter churn.  The water wheel was fed by water from an adjoining pond fed by 3 or 4 running springs…There was never a well or water pump on the homestead until 1904, when my grandfather, Herman Boeger, built his retirement home on the place… The well was a shallow spring well, 24 feet deep.  It supplied all the home needs plus running over and feeding a rock garden and the overflow running to water livestock (sheep.)  There were also 5 other running springs on the old Boeger homestead, therefore the area was named Spring Valley.”

Later, a portion of the Redeker property, which included the log cabin and the peony fields, was sold to Frank and Leona Merkle of Kenilworth.  They used the property as a retreat.  Their son William Merkle wrote about the farm in his book, Frank and Leona.  The springs on the property clearly made an impact on him because he devoted a fair amount of space to them.

“The artesian well flowed constantly and was full of iron and sulphur.  It smelled and tasted strongly, and there was always a rust colored scum developing in the bucket.  The well was made from a six inch pipe [that] Dad estimated was probably one hundred feet deep and which rose six feet above the surface.  It had a horizontal half inch pipe connected about two feet up from the ground and that is where the ice cold water poured constantly.  Dad placed a large wooden bucket under the spout and kept bottles of beer ice cold in there, along with jars of butter and things for the kitchen.  The runoff came down the side of the bucket and into a little rivulet which ran into the pond immediately to the west.  I was faced with the choice between that water and a beer and it wasn’t an easy decision:  stinky versus bitter.  I was ambivalent, taking beer about half the time.  This well and the artesian springs supplying the lakes functioned beautifully for years, and then suddenly stopped flowing.  Dad felt it was the result of a huge gravel pit that was dug a mile or so south of the property, and which somehow [affected] the dynamics of the aquifer.  It was a great loss, not only because of the absence of fresh water for drinking, cooking and washing, but because then the ponds pretty well dried up.”

In an article called “The Gravelmeisters of Schaumburg” that ran in Spring Valley’s Natural Enquirer in the July/August 2012 issue, Walter Plinske confirms Mr. Merkle’s supposition about the gravel quarries.  He makes reference to the pit that was actively quarried in the 1950s and is the pond that today borders Martingale Road on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District property.  “It was at this stage [during the gravel mining process] that the impermeable shale layer was removed that had prevented further downward flow of the groundwater.  It has since been asserted that this was the cause of the extinction of the artesian waters of Spring Valley.”

A picture of the log cabin and the pond during Mr. Merkle’s time that is part of the Spring Valley collection can be seen below. 

Another account of an open flowing spring was on Jones Road at its intersection with Highland Blvd in Schaumburg.  Not only did the Jahn family who lived on the east side of Jones Road mention it, but the Hassels, who bought the property on the west side in the 1930s, also made reference to the spring.  A 1953 topographical map shows this area with an active stream flowing through it and lowlands nearby.  Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian, recalls both family members telling her that the spring was very close to the northern most pond in Ray Kessell Park.

Even today, in October 2017, that pond is full…

While the south pond is not…

Curious, isn’t it?

In LaVonne Thies Presley’s book Schaumburg Of My Ancestors, she discusses the low areas and natural springs that occurred on the Thies family’s farm on Meacham Road.  (Their farm was south of the Fasse farm which is where the gravel quarry was located that inevitably altered the flow of the springs of Spring Valley.)   The springs on the Thies farm became “more of a nuisance than a source of good water” because they kept the fields so wet.

She said, “As the Thies brothers depended on the crops more and more [as both] a source of revenue and for feeding the animals, they decided on a plan of action.  William went into town to one of the taverns.  He arranged to buy several ‘oak whiskey barrels’ which had been emptied of their contents by customers at the tavern.  Henry and William went out to the fields where the springs were located.  The water at these springs was emerging slowly to form a large wet area in the field.  At each spring the brothers dug down six or seven feet.  After removing one end of the oak barrel, it was turned upside-down over the spring.  the dirt was carefully shoveled around and on top of the barrel.  The area was allowed to settle and dry out.  by the next growing season, William and Henry were able to plant over the area where the spring had once surfaced.  During a wet season this area would take a little longer to dry out so that the land could be prepared for planting, but the oak whiskey barrels did the job of keeping the water from the springs far below the surface.”

In his oral history, Norman Freise was asked if he had any springs on their family property. Norm said, “Oh yeah, we had one on the 40 acres on the north side.  (This property is where the Jane Addams Tollway and Meacham Road intersect today.)   That’s why we could keep the cows there.  See, my dad was drilling a well and we went down 100 feet and all of a sudden it’s just like an oil well.  It just gushed out and we finally capped it and put a pipe out and it kept running all the time.  We had a big tank there for the cows.”

Coincidentally–and maybe not–this is not too far from the Schaumburg water tower that is on the portion of Wiley Road that parallels Meacham.

In addition, a book called The Stolen Years by Roger Touhy, who was a bootlegger during Prohibition, recently came to my attention through Tom Holmberg, one of our reference librarians.  When Touhy got his start in the practice of bootlegging beer he sought out a chemist who worked for the City of Chicago.  “I asked him how to make good beer and, after giving me a lot of long words about enzymes and such, he said: “Good water, you want first of all.  Fine pure water.  Water is the big thing in all good beverages, from soda pop on up.’ I told him to go find the right kind of water, and he did.  He tested water all over northern Illinois.  Samples from my home town of Des Plaines were pretty good.  There was better stuff in a creek out at St. Charles.  But the elixir of all beer-base water was from an artesian well near Roselle, he said.  I built a wort [the liquid portion of mashed or malted grain used in the production of beer] plant out there…”  Was this wort plant in Schaumburg Township?  Were the Touhy brothers taking advantage of the artesian wells in the area or was there a wealth of them in Bloomingdale Township, closer to Roselle?  You have to wonder.

Water, water was everywhere in Schaumburg Township in the early days.  Whether it bubbled, flowed or seeped, the farmers could count on fairly shallow wells that provided good, clear, water for them, their livestock and their fields.  If you make a visit to Spring Valley you get a fairly good idea of how bountiful the water was before the building boom.  It would be a pleasure to actually see those springs flowing at Spring Valley today, wouldn’t it?

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

The photo of the spring is used courtesy of the American Sojourn blog.
The photo of the water tower is used courtesy of Google Maps.



December 21, 2014


Topographical map 2

I recently came across this 1953 topographical map of the Palatine quadrangle. In looking it over, I noticed the blue stream running through the portion of the map shown above. This is the West Branch of the Du Page River and it doesn’t start in Campanelli Park as I mentioned here. If you follow it, you’ll notice that it once started just south and east of the intersection of Schaumburg and Springinsguth Roads. With the development of the Weathersfield subdivision, the land–and the stream–were graded at some point, moving the starting point of the river further south.

At the time of this map’s publication, the land where the stream originated was part of the Ode D. Jenning’s farm. Mr. Jennings died in 1953 and the property then passed into his wife’s hands. You can see their long lane ending at a group of buildings. Three of the buildings on this property still stand. You know them as the Schaumburg Barn, the offices of the Schaumburg Athletic Association and the Jennings home which serves as a location for a non-profit organization. (For more information, read about Mr. Jennings here and his farm here.)

You’ll also notice in this map that you can actually see some of the ridge of the watershed divide. It is the portion that is outlined in a darker brown next to the number 28. In reading a topographical map, these darker portions indicate a higher elevation of the land. There is another such site almost due south. This is the path of the watershed divide that creates the drainage pattern for the township.

The green blob that straddles Schaumburg Road is Sarah’s Grove, pre-development. This area later covered Timbercrest, The Woods (both appropriately named) and Friendship Village. The long lane that runs south of the grove started at Roselle Road and ended at the Engelking farm. It was the origination of today’s Weathersfield Way.

The racing oval to the south was part of the Daisy Mayer farm at the time. According to an oral history done with Ralph Engelking, this oval was built in the Depression as a training track for trotters. The farm was called May Day Stock Farm.

You can see another oval almost due east across Roselle Road. This farm belonged to Virginia Mansfield who was known locally for the horses she raised. These were two of five racing ovals in Schaumburg Township.

Topographical maps give a wealth of data from elevation to swampy areas to schools to cemeteries. We have a number of them in the library’s Illinois Collection map file that cover Schaumburg Township. Feel free to stop by anytime and take a look. Or maybe you see something else that catches your eye on this map? Leave a comment and let us know!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


November 2, 2014

If you enjoyed your geography or science classes, you probably know that the Continental Divide of the United States runs down the backbone of the Rocky Mountains. The streams and rivers on the east side of the Rockies flow into the Atlantic Ocean and those on the west side flow into the Pacific Ocean.

Continental divides are naturally-occurring high spots that delineate how an area is drained of water. Interestingly enough, Schaumburg Township has its own small watershed divide that runs north to south down the middle of most of the township. The divide/high point runs between Salem and Roselle Roads and is most noticeable driving east on Wise Road near Roselle Road. You know you’ve reached a high point because it is possible to see the skyscrapers of Chicago from the road.Wise Road 2

Below is a topographical map of part of Schaumburg Township. This map is part of the greater Palatine quadrangle and was redrawn in 1972.

Topographical map

If you zoom in, you can see that on the east side of the divide the small streams that run through that part of the township drain into Salt Creek and eventually into the Des Plaines River. These would include the streams that run through Friendship Village, Town Square and along the southern border of the Schaumburg Golf Club. Yeargin Creek, which runs through the Schaumburg Municipal Center property, also drains into Salt Creek as do the creeks that run through the Spring Valley property.

On the west side of the divide the streams are part of the Poplar Creek system that eventually drains into the Fox River. You can find these branches of Poplar Creek as they flow through the Hilldale Country Club, the Hoffman Estates Village Hall property, Poplar Creek Country Club and in front of the St. Alexius property that is close to Barrington Road.

There is one exception to this watershed divide drainage pattern in Schaumburg Township and that can be found in the southwestern part of the township. The West Branch of the DuPage River actually begins in Campanelli Park and eventually flows into the Des Plaines River. It drains south in Schaumburg along Braintree and then east along Syracuse Lane into Hanover Park. It takes a southerly turn at Anne Fox Park, flows under Irving Park Road and continues along Longmeadow Lane into the Metropolitan Sanitary District Basin and out of the township.

If you look at the map below, you can see the head waters of the DuPage River in Campanelli Park and the path that it follows through Schaumburg Township.

Schaumburg Map

Do you remember playing in these creeks as you grew up in Schaumburg Township? Did any of them flood after big rains? Or maybe your family had a pet name for the creek behind your house? Feel free to share your stories about our township’s streams…

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library