Highlights in Public Works History part 2


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Some more flyers from the DPW Museum.

Bollman, bridge engineer:

B.H. Latrobe:

Centre Fountain:

Loch Raven-Montebello Tunnel:

The Baltimore Pike:

City Hall:

The white Wings:

Back River:

Montebello Filters:

C.H. Latrobe:



Noble Mill on Deer Creek


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Somehow or another I ended up on a mailing list for an organization called S.P.O.O.M. – Society for the Preservation of Old Mills. I just received their latest posting and I see they are visiting Eden Mill on Deer Creek this weekend. Nice mill that I have written about before. (A favorite kayak spot) Back in 1933 when Baltimore City was looking for a new water source, Deer Creek was on the list of possible dam sites. If the dam was built at Rocks State Park, Eden Mill would be flooded. There were quite a few mills below that area which would have lost water power needed for the mills. One of which was Noble’s Mill, which I visited in 2012.

Here is the drawing of Noble’s Mill.

And what the Mill looked like in 1933.

And in 2012.

The water race sluice gates.

Water to the mill via the sluice gates.

And where it enters the mill.

Sluice gate rack and pinion.

One of the best parts of my 2012 trip was being able to go into the mill. The owner saw me poking around outside and offered to give me a tour. 

Besides his artwork, he has been restoring some of the mill works.

Got to love this old pulley system and how you can watch the grain go through the chutes.

The old bridge over Deer Creek.

Maker of the bridge.

Map of the other mills along Deer Creek.

The Noble Mill map shows the road in front of the mill, between Deer Creek and the mill. Google Earth shows the road behind the mill.

Highlights in Public Works History part 1


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Continuing with documenting and archiving, I found a collection of small posters concerning Public Works. I believe these were given out at the DPW Museum in Baltimore back in the 1980s during the time it was open. There are some missing and I hope to be able to find them, to complete the collection. Here are issues #1,3,4,6 and 7.  #1 has some misinformation. The Roland Tower was completed in 1905 according to Annual Reports. Not sure what the word exhaneous, which is handwritten on the poster, means?

#3 comes from Abel Wolman’s booklet, “The Livable City”.

#4 from the exhibit: Baltimore’s Bridges and Their Builders.

#6 from 1985’s Women’s Week.

#7 is about our infrastructure.

Over the years there have been many attempts at posters, exhibits, newsletters etc. I wish they would start doing more of the history in a poster like the above or a new newsletter… The City attempted to try a new format of the Annual Report, but it is inconsistent and sporadic at best.



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Headed to Crisfield for dinner on Saturday night, to celebrate John and Gail’s anniversary. Always a good time with Kathy’s family. First stop was the dock or maybe it is just a fishing pier?

Memorial Day weekend and the flags are flying.

Looking across Daugherty Creek towards Tangier Sound and the Chesapeake Bay.

Kathy enjoying the peace and solitude. Stars overhead. 

A moral compass or a navigational one? Needs directions.

Is that someone’s house all the way out there?

Dinner time. The soft shell crab sandwich was excellent! The sauteed soft shell crabs, not so much. But overall a very nice restaurant. Glad to have been invited to what was traditionally a father-daughters eatery! Thanks Merrill. 

The family.

Random shot of a water tower – because this post is about water and me!

Got home in time for the deluge. Molly says to go ahead and she will catch up!


Fire Towers


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I have just about completed scanning and documenting the 1500+ negatives I found a few weeks back (Loose Ends Never End). Only needed to scan just over 700. The others have already been documented elsewhere. I wish someone would have taken the time to at least give a descriptive label to these things, other than the date the photos were taken. From my years of research, most I can identify, others I cannot.

Here are two that were in a group, although not labelled, I recognized as construction of the Susquehanna Conduit. Along with Deer Creek Pumping Station. There are quite a few negatives scattered throughout this collection, although in numerical and chronological order, that should be in other groups of photos.

It looks like a fire tower, just not sure. What my book says about fires in the watersheds:

From File Folder 1194: August 1931 letter concerning the building of a fire tower located near Loch Raven. The State Dept. of Forestry request fire towers at all watershed properties. Rost responds that they (the City) have no money to contribute to the building of these towers. 1932 fire reports: Most report that the fires were caused by smokers. Also a list of damage done: Twenty five acres burned, mostly ten inch hardwoods. 1939 letter from Towson Nurseries concerning property adjacent to the Northern Central RR at Kenilworth. They want to plow some furrows in the field to help stop any fires that may happen. Small gives them permission. January 5, 1943 report of a fire at the Gatekeeper’s house at Lake Roland. May 22, 1945 memo of a fire in the barracks immediately behind of the old gatehouse at Lake Montebello, formerly occupied by the Maryland State Guard. November 20, 1945 fire report, barn owned by City on Mittens’ farm about one mile west of Westminster Pike: On investigation of this fire learned from Paul George, age 46, overseer on Dr. Saffell’s farm, that he was husking corn, in a field near the barn, with five German prisoners. He stated that all of them ate their lunch at this barn around noon. At about 2:45pm, one of these prisoners went on top a hill, to relieve himself, when he came running back and told Mr. George that smoke was coming out of this barn. Mr. George stated that at no time was any of the prisoners in the barn or smoking near same. Dale George, son, said he saw two hunters near the barn earlier but didn’t know them. June 9, 1949 memo concerning all the fires occurring on the property between Pierce’s store and the dam. Mostly are caused by picnickers. 1956 memo concerning fire at Hampton in which fifty acres burnt. Three young boys were caught leaving the fire. Contains lengthy report. 1957 letter from Werner to a Philip Franklin who had started a fire at Loch Raven and then left the scene. Werner wants to know a good reason why he shouldn’t be prosecuted. March 1962 report of a fire north of the dam caused by fishermen.

These two photos are dated May 10, 1965. I know the watersheds have fire roads; I have never seen any of these towers – not that this one would still be standing. Looks pretty rickety to me.

Good Intentions, Not Always Good Results


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A couple weeks ago I was drawn into a discussion concerning the Balancing Reservoir adjacent to Cromwell Valley Park. I say adjacent because it is City property, in Baltimore County, part of the City’s watershed. This past weekend was the first chance that Kathy and I had to take a hike through CVP and this is what greeted us:

A poem about graffiti. What the hell? So I looked down at the balancing reservoir shaft and understood.

Someone drew, what I guess they thought, was a peace symbol and a heart. Going down the slope we saw even more.

Now I understand the reason for the poem. What idiots! I have never understood graffiti. Some that are murals are nice, but this makes no sense to me. And no, I don’t believe in that sort of “Freedom of Expression”

What does this have to do with my Post Title and opening statement? The discussion I had was with City Watershed personnel, the County, the Park and the volunteers at CVP. The area has been nicely cleared around this structure and throughout the reservoir. Unfortunately by clearing it out, it made it more accessible to more people and more people means more risk of vandalism. The discussion, both pros and cons, concerned restoring the site. Pros – historical water history. Cons – disruption to the wildlife and native plants.

Here is a 1921 partial drawing of the Balancing Reservoir.

We walked down the shaft slope and went over to the quarry, then to the spillway. View from the beginning of spillway looking toward Mine Bank Run.

A close up of the Spillway.

And of Molly not wanting to get too close. It is about a 20′ drop. There use to be a rope across there saying “Danger”

From the spillway we walked over to the dam. This dam actually has a concrete apron that extends partially down the slope towards the surge shaft. It has been pretty much cleared out, to the bird watchers and rangers dismay.

Here is the balancing reservoir in use 1922. This view is from the shaft to the dam.

This other view is looking over the old quarry. Both of these photos come from the Maryland Historical Society.

No trip to CVP would be complete without a hike to the Kilns.

New signage everywhere – kind of reminds me of an old 70s song! Descriptive signs.

My take on all this? Originally I thought it would be great to restore the complete balancing reservoir to its original construction, but I’m not so sure now. It would be nice to clear the concrete apron around the surge shaft and the concrete spillway. Not sure it would be worth clearing the dam face. Too many animals and birds in that area. And as the poem states, “volunteers…in their older years…” Who will maintain it 20 years from now? The City won’t and they haven’t. The place is only historical in the minds of people who appreciate their water source. Most people that turn on their faucets could care less about the history of how it gets there!

And for my history friends, here is a map from 1915 of the area. When the City built the new dam.


North Patapsco Bridges


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More from the Loose Ends Never Ends files. I have about 500 more negatives to scan in this one collection. Just finished up more of the Liberty Dam and adjacent bridges. I must confess, I have never really done a lot of research concerning these bridges. Over the years I have found hundreds of photographs/negatives, and only found a few of them interesting; like Liberty Lumber, the Indian grave marker and the dam itself. Although I really like climbing on and under bridges, I never gave these photos much thought. Looking at Google Maps, it is hard to place the original/present location of these bridges. I’m just not familiar with the area’s history. Most are from the early 1950s.

Ivy Mill Bridge is first. I like this one because it shows the old structure in the background. This photo is one of the few with a description attached.

Beginning construction, temporary bridges were built.

Foundation and columns poured.

As can be seen, these photos are missing the contractor’s descriptions of work – black rectangular areas on photos.

Moving right along with progress.

Reaching the final height and then comes the decking.

The finished bridge.

Next collection of negatives were marked as North Branch Over Patapsco, including Morgan Run. General view of the area.

Setting forms for foundations.


Ready to place decking.

Putting on final touches.

Finished bridge from old bridge. (I wonder if this old one is underwater?)

The next group I found were of the Snowden Creek Bridge. Not many photos in this collection. It must be way up there because it looks pretty shallow. Forms poured and ready for decking.

Near completion. 

The next 500+ negatives to document are of building the Susquehanna Tunnel.

Here is the photo of the grave marker, taken from an engineer’s scrapbook. 


Light City Baltimore 2018


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Nice night to go to the Inner Harbor for the City Lights. Thinking that it would be really crowded, we parked on the other side of Little Italy and walked. Just over 4 miles round trip. It was still light out when we got there but figured by the time we walked all the way around the harbor, it would be dark on our return trip, and it was.

First up, catching the sun going down…

Then Mr. Trash Wheel. The harbor looked pretty clean.

Octopus at various light. Sun…

Then at night…

Kathy’s photo…

Then our own Tall Ship, my photo of the cannons.

And then Kathy’s, which I like better, because of the black/white contrasting line thru the ship and the Ferris wheel in the background.

A side shot.

This next one looked neat at night, I just couldn’t capture a good image.

Willie D (William Donald Schaefer, ex-mayor, ex-governor)

The Ferris wheel – they really relocated this off a ways.

Electronic mountain.

And soon, it will be dark and the flowers are lit up. (Another one from Kathy)

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Kathy in a display.

Something in the water.

A bunch of ducks.


Two Birthdays One Cake


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Today, my daughter Julianne (Jules) turns 25. A quarter of a century has flown by. She shares her birthday with her grandmother, my mom, who passed away a few years back. Here are some favorite pics:

Here I am trying to teach Jules to give the finger and say “F-it”! I am such a good dad!

Jules and her best friend Lauren and their first day of kindergarten.

A self portrait that Julie drew.

A hike we took at Havre de Grace. Always a favorite photo.

Julie in Paris.


And most recently Colorado with Lauren. They were on hiatus from each other for a while, but now back to hanging out together. Kid sure has done a lot!!

And let’s not forget my mom. This would be Easter and I believe we were at Druid Park? My sister Betty, me and brother Bob.

My mom always wanted to take a cruise so I took her to Bermuda. It was a wonderful time.

A cake for Julianne and a birthday wish for my mom. Happy Birthday!!

Blue Bird vs Tree Swallow


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While down at Kathy’s parents, I saw a bunch of birds dive bombing each other over the field. Then one landed on a bird box. I thought it was an Eastern Blue Bird. Turns out it was a Tree Swallow.  Not having a tripod, I used the next best thing, which still was not stable enough.

A makeshift steady support – deer fencing around a tree.

What I thought was a Blue Bird.

The actual Blue Birds have always been hard for me to get a good shot. They are finicky and don’t sit long in the same spot. This guy was preening himself.

Heading over to the barn, this goose was on the lookout for his mate…

Who is on the nest, keeping the eggs warm.

Just a random hole.

The barn – ready to come down soon.

Random sliding door hardware.

Back at the pond.

And that quick, he is gone. Another nice weekend!