"Masterful Sleuthing" - NYT Bestselling author Steve Hodel, We haven't restarted in-person tours yet, and don't plan to this year. The Fool Killer was a submarine, one one of the first ever built, that was discovered in the Chicago River beneath three feet of mud in 1915, underneath the Rush Street bridge. Your report has been successfully submitted. The US wasn’t in the Great War at this time. This is the first in a five part series looking into the mystery of The Foolkiller. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left;width:100%;font-weight:normal;}, The Great Chicago Fire: A Chicago Stories Special, Winning Ugly: Bears Reach 4-1 Record But Fail to Convince, Day of the Dead Exhibit Honors Those Who Died from COVID-19, Celebrates Life, Ask Geoffrey: What to See at This Year’s Reimagined Open House Chicago, The Author as Superhero: Ernest Hemingway in Comic Books, White Sox, Renteria Agree to Split After Breakout Season, Fall Fun: Pumpkin Patches, Apple Picking, Corn Mazes and More, ‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Wheaton, CPS To Bring Back Pre-K, Some Special Education Students For In-Person Learning: Sources, As Property Tax Hike Looms, Officials Expect Surge in Those Who Don’t Pay, Transportation Advocates Seek Guarantee Transit Won’t Shut Down In Event of Post-Election Unrest. Submarine. It’s one of my favorite Chicago mysteries, and the first one that really sent me down a rabbit hole. Not many writers would have been able to explore this topic like this. The thought that it was a German U boat was dismissed as wartime propaganda. Crane raising a submarine called the Fool Killer from the bottom of the Chicago River at the Wells Street Bridge in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. By this point in the tour, I’ve told about the gruesome deaths of over 700 people, but you mention a dead dog….. We explore this little-known Chicago mystery. It’s possible that the bones were planted on the submarine when it was raised in 1915 as a publicity stunt to get more people to come see it on exhibition. Adam Selzer is a tour guide and Atlas Obscura field agent with 10+ years experience in Chicago and New York. The vessel was named the Fool Killer by the papers. Here’s our original three part post; click the “read more” button to see the whole thing if you don’t see it all at once. The Phillips’ family legend about the sub sinking in the river don’t include anything about anyone being onboard at the time. Aired: 01/04/10 A diver named William “Frenchy” Deneau, who I can’t seem to find much information on anywhere other than in articles that refer specifically to the Fool Killer, was helping out with dragging the Chicago River to look for bodies from the Eastland disaster. A barge with a crane is on the left side of… No drawings or diagrams for his second submarine survive, but drawings of Philips’ subs from the 1850s do strongly resemble the pictures of the Fool Killer that eventually came to light. Storyline. By creating an account, you acknowledge that PBS may share your information with our member stations and our respective service providers, and that you have read and understand the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. In any case, it does not seem to have been as big a draw as the monkey. Phillips, “Fool Killer” copyright 1982, library of congress Number 82-073727 . There were only a very small handful of submarines ever known to be in the Great Lakes in the 19th century- and Phillips just happened to build a few of them, including perhaps the only successful submarine built in its time. Deneau was in a spot of financial trouble and the tour of the submarine generated some needed cash. – speculating that newspaper reports dating the sub to the 1870s might have been mistaking it for OTHER experimental subs. This is just about everything we know about this ship! Fool Killer part #2 The Fool Killer Submarine--part 3 As a side note, some sites say that a "William Nissen"(no relation) of Chicago bought the sub in or around 1890, and sold it to the guy who drowned with his dog, there is no evidence of this. “But apparently it didn’t, because when they raised it up the next month, they found a dead guy and a dead dog onboard the thing.” There’s always an “awwwww” when I mention the dog. You've just tried to add this show to My List. According to these family stories, the machine lacked a decent mechanism for propulsion and sank on a test run in the Chicago River. 95 years ago, a primitive submarine was raised from the bottom of the Chicago River. Discovered in 1915, this mystery submarine is considered by some to be hoax, or by others to be the real thing. And the letter Phillips wrote to the Navy in 1853 indicates that the submarine he built in 1847 was a success – no mention is made of it sinking (though the letter was an attempt to sell his latest boat to the Navy, and talking about failed models wouldn’t have been much of a selling point). He appears to have enlisted the Skee Ball company as investors – it seems that they planned to tour the submarine around the country along with their games as a special promotion (imagine the slogan: “Come for the the Fool Killer, Stay for the Skee Ball!”)By the end of February, the ship was on display at 208 South State Street. ), The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History. The Fool Killer Ad our post featuring the Tribune ad (from back when this was the Weird Chicago blog), The Fool Killer: More Evidence – a post comparing a drawing of one of Phillips’ subs to photos of the foolkiller. The vessel was named the Fool Killer by the papers. We look at this little-known Chicago mystery. During this time, submarines were being used in battles in World War I. This William Nissen seems to be no relation to Peter Nissen, leaving one to speculate that the report had been a typo, and that the reporter meant to say “Peter,” not “William.”. He looks like an early middle-aged version of Harry Potter! Deneau announced to the newspapers that he had found The Fool Killer, and “ancient, primitive submarine” that had been lost for at least eighteen years – and possibly much longer! But the Tribune also once reported that it was first owned by an “eastern man,” and some have speculated that this might refer to Lodner Darvantis Phillips, a shoemaker from Michigan City, Indiana, who also happened to be a submarine pioneer. Police combed their missing persons records to see who the skull could belong to. On Saturday mornings, groups of ten or more children could get in for half of the usual price. Other speculation has said it was a creation of Lodner Darvantis Phillips, a shoemaker from Michigan City, Indiana, who also happened to be a submarine pioneer. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. We explore this little-known Chicago mystery. Photo Credit- DN-0065730, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. The author of more than 20 books, he is frequently seen on The History Channel, The Travel Channel, and more. WTTW video streaming support provided by members and sponsors. Email, "Enthralling history" - Library Journal (starred review) Who built it? This is the only evidence, however, his designs resembled the submarine found more closely than Nissen’s. Below, under the “read more,” I’m gonna go ahead and republish the whole three part article I posted on it back in 2008. Who, then, was the poor man who died onboard? How long had it been in the river? In November of 1915, a submarine was found at the bottom of The Chicago River. Once inside, the discovery was made of a man’s skull and a dog’s skull, just the skulls. (update: in articles discovered after this was written, it was mentioned by people “in the know” that a couple of military test subs had been sunk in the river at one point. Tomorrow night (9/5/14) I understand that the episode of Monumental Mysteries I filmed last winter will air on the Travel Channel. So, could the submarine have been beneath the river since the 1840s? Share … A couple of months ago PBS interviewed me for a story on it that aired last night. That the Fool Killer was a Lodner Phillips creation seems to be backed up mainly by family legend, which is not always reliable; another Phillips family legend states than when Phillips refused to sell one of his boats to the British Navy, they sank it, a story that is almost certainly not true. (update: shortly after its Iowa appearance, it’s now known to have been on display at Riverview, so Chicago is once again its last known location). U.S. Patent 15898 Atmospheric diving suit. Posted by 4 years ago. Congratulations! Clip: 01/04/2010 | 4m 32s 95 years ago, a primitive submarine was raised from the bottom of the Chicago River. Furthermore, if the submarine had sunk in 1870 on the first time out and raised after twenty years, who would be crazy enough to go sailing in it? The newspapers took up the story and watched it with interest. But first, we need you to sign in to PBS using one of the services below. At the time, submarines were in the papers almost daily. I tell the story of the Fool Killer, mysterious submarine wreck found in the river in 1915, on almost every one of my tours. We can remove the first video in the list to add this one. And the location of the wreck is only one of the mysteries; the list of unanswered questions about the submarine is a long one. Still, there was no indication of how the submarine got there. Sign up for our morning newsletter to get all of our stories delivered to your mailbox each weekday. Now, this is where the Fool Killer submarine comes into play. One of the weirdest aspects of the story is that the newspapers just couldn’t seem to tell where the submarine was found consistently – at various times it was said to be found near the Madison Street bridge, the Rush Street bridge, and the Wells Street bridge. He was created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik.In his brief Man-Thing appearance, the Foolkiller attempted to kill two major characters in the series: F.A. According to his family legend, a prototype he built sank in the Chicago River and claimed the Fool Killer as one of their ancestor’s creations. He had built successful submarines in the Great Lakes and one of his designs from the 1840s resembled the submarine found. Perhaps they were mistaking it for the submarine tested in Lake Michigan in 1892 by George C. Baker, which was about forty feet long – roughly the length of the Foolkiller – or the model Louis Gatham tested in the lake the next year. By 1917, Parker’s Greatest Shows had replaced the sub with a new submarine that could demonstrate manuevers in a giant glass tank (and replaced Snooks with a “monkey speedway”), leaving historians to speculate Parker sold the old submarine for scrap, but no one really knows what happened to it – it could still be out there someplace today, as far as anyone knows! I found it over by the Madison Street bridge!” It also seems that in the process of raising it, workers had to drag it through the river a couple of miles to the Fullerton bridge. No further details are yet known, though this would be a strong “alternate” theory). The first person he meets is Dirty Jim Helliman who lives in a fantastically filthy hovel and with whom George feels a kindred spirit, both having "suffered" at the hands of a clean woman. ), I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It (coming in Jan! Since then, we’ve found some new information, including a new “last known location;” I found some ads from June, 1916 saying that it was on display at Riverview, the amusement park that stood near Western and Addison, a month after its appearance at a fair in Iowa. 95 years ago, a primitive submarine was raised from the bottom of the Chicago River. Just history. We explore this little-known Chicago mystery. Thank you for helping us improve PBS Video. The Cold War is at its peak and the opponents are hostile. Phillips appears to have designed at least four submarines in his lifetime – according to his descendants, his third model, built in 1851 and known as the Marine Cigar, was stable enough that he was able to take his family on fantastic underwater picnics (this was probably the one he lost in 1853 while trying to salvage the wreck of The Atlantic in Lake Erie – it’s still lost in the lake today).