A cast-iron gas pipeline, in place in the ground in Chicago since before the Civil War in 1859 and truly the last of its kind in the Windy City, has been excavated after the last customer switched to a modern gas supplier last week.
A small working crew extracted the 17-foot-long pipe from a large hole and placed it on a flatbed truck at Hubbard and Orleans streets in River North, in what the city's cultural historian, Tim Samuelson, called a historical occasion.
According to the local Chicago press, this pipeline had historically kept Chicago's streets lit up at night, keeping residents safe against crime by providing reliable light:
“Drawing from these pipes you could have a fixture in your house that would give reliable, brilliant light," Samuelson said. “Dark streets could now have a gas streetlight that would brightly make the street a safe place to walk.”
The excavation was part of the System Modernization Program, created by Peoples Gas in 2011 with the goal of replacing over 2,000 miles of natural gas pipeline in Chicago.