Chicago Mystery Submarines? (PLUS! Column by Cecil)

In Oddball Illinois: A Guide To Some Really Strange Places, by Jerome Pohlen, page 52-53, 2 odd submarines, sunk in Chicago waters, are mentioned.

One was salvaged with the skeletons of a man & a dog inside it, circa 1915-1918. Dubbed the Foolkiller, it was put on public display. Does it still exist? Is there more information on it?
The second was/is a 31 foot long, hotdog shaped, wooden item, banded with iron straps, with a pipe running end to end. It was found in the Chicago River, and its status as a submarine was uncomfirmed , as it had not been salvaged by publication, circa 2000.

Was this in fact a submarine? What was it? Has it been salvaged?

We’re always up for investigating oddities. Have never heard of either of these. You say the second one hadn’t been salvaged as of 2000. When was it discovered?

Unknown, Pohen doesn’t go into that.

And he doesn’t cite sourses.
Second mystery sub to be found “just inside the Chicago River locks in the ship-turning basin”. Coast Guard involvement is indicated.

Pohen recommends a book, The Chicago River by David M. Solzman, Wild Onion Press 1998. Does not, however, cite it as source material.

No further definate data.

Old Tribune stories shed a little light on the Foolkiller. In 1904, a fellow named Peter Nissen built a sort of balloon intended to roll on the water’s surface. Imagine a canvas bag shaped like a lemon, with an axle inside from tip to tip. Suspended from the axle, a bench where the inhabitant could sit or sleep. A Tribune story says “Nissen’s plan is to ‘roll’ to the north pole in the bag after testing it by crossing the lake.”

He made a successful short test in August 1904, but drowned in November attempting to cross Lake Michigan in *Foolkiller No. 3.

Note–Pohen’s book was published in 2000.

The submarine mentioned by Bosda was found in 1915 by a diver laying cable near the Rush Street Bridge. When raised, it was found to contain the bones of a man and the skull of a dog. This submarine was very possibly a craft built by one Lodner D. Phillips There are great photos at that site to which I just linked.

This looks like a terrific story. Cecil will almost certainly want to write about it. Any other details, sources, etc., are much appreciated.

You got what I got. Hard to research this, as I no longer live in Chicago.

If the Celestiial Font of Wisdom & Henny Youngman Gags can come up with more, I’d be very interested.

Congrats, Bosda, Cecil has (as Ed thought he would) taken this one up:

Interesting article. The picture of the Foolkiller being raised reminded me not of a submarine, but of a Great Lakes Whaleback Steamer - perhaps an early test model?

Many thanks to Cecil Adams for kindly answering my question. :slight_smile:

Adam Selzer has posted info from newly found Chicago Examiner articles on the sub

An excerpt: