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It has been called the greatest engineering project of the 1800s and the greatest undertaking by a single municipality, but the creation of the Chicago Canal was actually a reversal of nature, for the benefit of man. In the 19th century, some of the most important canals in the world were conceived or constructed, and while the Panama Canal and Suez Canal are better known, the Chicago Canal is one of the greatest engineering projects in history. At nearly 30 miles long, the construction actually managed to reverse the flow of parts of the Chicago River, and though it was intended to be for sewage treatment, the canal continues to operate today, over 115 years after it officially opened. In the process, the canal opened up transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, cementing Chicago's status as one of the most important cities in the United States. The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal: The History of the Waterway Connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River looks at the important waterway.