On our way to a coffee house near Lake Michigan this morning, my grandmother and I saw an empty coal barge coming from the Burnham Canal toward the Inner Harbor. We watched the South 6th St. bascule span open and saw the barge pass under it, then we lost it until Plankinton Ave. where we saw the bascule span already opened and the UP RR swing bridge opened to allow river traffic. In addition, all the bascule spans east to the harbor were fully opened. As we waited at the light at Water St., we could see the large empty barge pass under the Plankinton St. bridge, through the now-opened strait past the UP RR swing bridge and head toward the (opened) Water St. bascule bridge.
One doesn’t normally see coal barges moving anymore. They were once used to supply coal to the Valley Power Plant, now using natural gas. The barges are all empty and parked at the far west end of the Burnham Canal. I can only figure that they’re clearing them out to make room for the Lake Express to dock in the Canal for the winter.