Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Lanyon  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: September 4, 1937

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Illinois Connection

Richard now lives in Evanston, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Richard Lanyon has had a life long association with the waterways in and around Chicago. He grew up along the North Branch, attended the University of Illinois Navy Pier campus, worked as a beginning engineer on the Lake Diversion legal controversy and capped his working life with a 48-year accomplishment with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.Richard retired from the MWRDGC as its Executive Director at the close of 2010. Currently, he is Chair of the Evanston Utility Commission, and working on a second book about the MWRDGC early in the 20th Century.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Building The Canal To Save Chicago
ISBN: 1469145804

Xlibris, Corp.. 2012

To accomplish the reversing of the flow of a river wouldn’t be possible today. But to Chicago near the end of the 19th Century it became a matter of survival. It is an unlikely place for a large city, with flat topography, poor drainage, next to a lake and near to a river into the continent. Those conditions in the 1800s appealed to westward expansion pioneers who traveled by water. A city was born, the railroads replaced water transport, population surged, and the lake was both water supply and toilet. The river became overwhelmed with the commerce of a port city and with sewage. It stank at times. Flooding from the interior tore through the city to get to the lake. What to do? Without sewage treatment it was decided to breach a sub continental divide, send the sewage away and save the lake. It received legislative blessing with the promise of a navigable canal. Chicago’s own shoulder-to-the-wheel determination made it work. The river was transformed into a canal flowing the other way.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Please contact Richard at or 1019 Mulford Street Evanston , Illinois 60202 Phone 312-307-8855 Website