Saving History, One Piece at a Time


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Anyone that has been following my blog will remember my writing about a few construction projects that are water related. Such as the new buildings at Loch Raven, the contractor busting a hole in the ten foot conduit that supplies water to Baltimore, another contractor digging up the foundation to an old pumping station, the attempts to save the Clifton Gate House, the Roland Tower, the residence at Montebello, etc.

When I first wrote about the work along Loch Raven, I wrote about the house and buildings they were tearing down. After being notified of this project, I went to investigate and saw a bunch of metal signs. Not necessarily ultra historic, but a part of Baltimore’s Water Supply History nonetheless. I was able to retrieve from the contractor, 2 of the 8 that were there. The other six were taken by a company the reuses old building materials.

Here is one of the eight signs. This all happened a few months ago. The other day I received an email. One of those courtesy type ones from the big bosses downtown, trying to keep me in the history loop. Well, I was dumbfounded when I read the email. It just said FYI and had the attached photo along with two other attachments.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! This photo is of the marble plaque that was in the original 1881 gate house to the first Loch Raven Dam!!! i always wondered what happened to this thing.

The third attachment is a quote, only partially shown to protect the parties involved. Two marble plaques? The quote went on to say that the other one was dated 1887!! Holy crap! Only one water works related to Loch Raven was built at that time and that was the Clifton Gate House!! My eyes were playing tricks on me!! This couldn’t be!

But wait! How did this company get these things and were they really trying to sell them back to the City? City property??!! I don’t think I ever cussed in an email to one of the bosses downtown but I just couldn’t contain myself “What the hell! This is City property. How can they charge us for something that is ours?!” I suggested he gets the Environmental Police involved to check this out. If not, tell them I will give them $500 and we won’t press charges. He said he turned it over to the EP. And he did. Today I received a copy of the investigative report stating that these items were picked up by accident and would be returned to the City. And they were this afternoon!!

More on this later so stay tuned! (I want to go into a lengthy bit of comment on what we should learn from this…)

Loch Raven Property Part 2


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Back in December I posted information about a house that was being torn down to make way for a new Loch Raven Reservoir Maintenance building(s). Some questions came up as to who owned the house originally and how long had it been there. Just recently my blog had been read and I have been in communication with two brothers that lived there. Their grandfather was the superintendent of the property from the fifties to the eighties.

I found this photo and the accompanying info sheet on the property.

Back in 1932 a handyman lived there named William Butcher. The brother’s names are Joe and Jim Greenwood. Their grandfather’s name was William Farrell. They are going to try and find some photographs of when they lived there.

In my records is this house, occupied by Howard Finnerty.

As can be seen, this house was 1500 feet south of the dam, which puts it just north of the Butcher property.

Enlarging this photo from about 1914, you can see both houses to the left.

Another interesting house adjacent to the property was occupied by John Chenowith.

According to this record, the house was 2200 feet from the dam which kind of puts it just south of Shanghai Run, on the hill. I did find a photo that LOOKS like this house from 1914 but I am not sure.

Here is some of what the brothers said about growing up on Loch Raven:

• Jim Greenwood said: June 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm
According to family history, the home was built in stages sometime before the Civil War. The kitchen section was built first, then the center section, then finally the large section up front, including the porch. It was later bought by the city.
The house was always occupied by the Superintendent up until 1980 when my grandfather retired. Legend has it that General Harry Gilmor spent time in the house during his adventures in the area.
Many, many stories. I remember evacuating the house during Agnes, and ice skating below the lower dam in the winter, and hearing about Chuck Thompson at the fishing center (a celebrity!) In the 60s we’d get trapped in the house as the road became gridlocked with folks cruising in their cars and flat lands below the dam became a big parking lot/beach party every weekend. In the mid-seventies they planted trees below the lower damn and closed the road on the weekends and the hippies were replaced by bicyclists.
Despite the beautiful photos, the area between the dams was usually a mud pit with a stream of water trickling down the middle.
My grandfather kept a close eye on the place, and we always enjoyed him shouting from the front porch at people getting into things they shouldn’t get into.

• Joe Greenwood said: June 13, 2017
I think Chuck Thompson came to one of the crab feasts. Several barrels of steamed crabs from Hale’s for the then crazy sum of $100 each.
Winter was always fun for us with the salt trucks going in and out and never understood why our grandfather hated snow. Greatest sled hill in the world up behind the pumps and the old foundation up on the hill. We somewhat had the run of the place since all the workers knew us and we would despoil Uncle Bill’s penny jar and walk to Sanders’ at the juncture of Cromwell Valley. If nothing else, we could check on the dead cat along the way and occasionally didn’t catch fish off the little dam while the hippies jumped off it. It was always fascinating to talk to Clarence, who tended to come on duty in the evening to patrol and was missing a finger and was always happy to show us his pistol.
We did get in a little trouble like accidentally throwing kerosene on the workers’ wood stove.

So now the question comes up! Should this house have been torn down before doing a thorough investigation? Gilmor??

This is a historic marker up off of Mountain Road, not too far from Loch Raven. Which brings up another question – since a lot of people are so hell bent on erasing history, by removing Confederate statues – should all the Highway Markers also be removed?

Thanks to Joe and Jim Greenwood for your stories. This is what makes my job so interesting.


Early Evening Hike


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Saturday evening was a nice time to take a short hike at Marshy Point Park. Little did we know at the time, we would see these same spots on our kayak adventure the next day, from a different perspective.

Looking out from the dock at the osprey nest and footbridge.

Walking along you come to an overlook and you really have to look over to see.

The footbridge to other trails. Molly and Kathy waiting patiently for me to catch up…before it gets dark.

From the footbridge, looking towards Dundee Creek.

A trail we have never taken. 1/2 mile we should be able to complete before the sun goes down and they lock us in.

The paths are pretty well maintained.

A stool with a tree growing around its legs.

Where mud may be, they built these little walk ways.

A camping area.

A path back to the water.

A red-wing blackbird making noise.

View from the path. We will get up close and personal here tomorrow.

Not sure who this is.

Love new growth just popping up.


Part of a swamp. Never did see the pond.

Here comes the darkness.

Mr Owl, are you in there?

Nope, I’m in here. Kathy said he was caged up because he is blind in one eye.

FYI a map of the trails. There are a lot of them here and we have only been to a couple.

Half Moon Cay (but I think it is pronounced key??)


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The next part of our Bahama Cruise was to a private island. Reading some history of this place, it was originally called Little San Salvador. It was purchased in 1997 by Holland American Line. It is a wild bird reserve and tourist play spot.


The cruise ship drops anchor and a tender comes to take you ashore.


Welcome! Thank you, glad we made it!


Not sure if this was a real fort or not?


Waiting to catch a bus to the other side of the island for some adventure!


The upper right of this map is our destination.


The bus dropped us off and now we are waiting for our tour guide to give us an ecological tour. I’m so excited!


And the roosters in the tree are excited!


And we are off – heading towards land over yonder.


Nice group of us on the tour. Kathy kept them smiling. I will say though, it is a little hard kayaking in a two person kayak. I kept hitting Kathy’s paddle.


About here is where the guy next to us fell out of his kayak.


Everyone was picking him up and holding him (or her).


Under our feet were thousands of these jelly fish. Our guide picks one up and says, don’t worry, they won’t sting you. Well, it stung this little girl that was with her father. He was pissed and she was pretty much done for the rest of the journey. Poor kid.


After kayaking we headed to the beach for a while. Rental bungalows.


A bar disguised as a pirate ship. Is nothing sacred?


My sentiments exactly.


Time to just chill and enjoy…


…or you can swim out and watch your girlfriend look for sea glass.


Walked around some; this guy was making a lot of noise.


Interesting but kind of weird.


The only thing you should leave when visiting a place like this…


We leave you in peace.


Nice night to snuggle on deck and watch Jason Bourne! Yes!


New York City


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Did the Groupon Tour Bus to NYC the other day. Really nice trip and for $32 round trip, you couldn’t beat the price. Left the Carney Park and Ride at 7:26am and was parked in NY at 10:25am. Had to be back to the bus by 6:30pm. Nice long day of sight-seeing. It has been close to 30 years since I have been there. Back then it was smelly and dirty and I saw someone get robbed right outside of Penn Station…

First stop, Times Square.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Inside the church.

Past Rockefeller Center and thru some back streets to this guy made of Coach bags. I was waiting for the girl to start singing… “Mothra…”

The first Trump property we saw. Armed Tactical Police outside with dogs. Secret Service inside with scanners. Looking down from the top of the waterfall.

From walking around mid-town to Central Park. Not sure what was going on with the woman in the pink top, to the left. It looks like her transporter malfunctioned.

On the hour and half hour, these guys rotate around the base of the clock.

Nice zoo in the park.


Model yacht sailing on one of the lakes.

Was goiing to ask Alice something, but she seemed pre-occupied knocking this little kid off her toadstool…
















To the oblisk.

Then to Belvedere castle.

View of the turtle pond with many of them basking in the sun, along with the egret.

Across the pond to the Grand Lawn.

We were supposed to go to the Natural History Museum, instead, we were enjoying just seeing the sites, we kept on going…The Dakota.

Which then took us back to Central Park and Imagine.

Lots of people trying to pay their respects. This was the only rowdy scene all day. Some rickshaw driver started cussing out tourist as he was hogging up the photo-op for his passengers. Surrealistic.

Another Trump Property, for the man who would be king and have this in his hands.

















This was pretty neat – a wall of plants, just barely hanging on by their roots.
















Lincold Center.

And of course, a bunch of water towers.


When they were giving out brains, you thought they said trains…


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Contractor on site called me over once again because they hit something unknown.

Turned out to be a set of train tracks from original construction 1913-1915.

As can be seen here, there were a lot of tracks laid for construction. These veer off to the right to hook up with the ones below.

In this photo, lower right is about where the tracks are that the contractor dug up. I told them they would have to suspend their work until I talk with the historical people – these may be the tracks that President Woodrow Wilson’s train was on during his visit when the plant opened in 1915. Not. Montebello Lake is in the background.

Chincoteague Va.


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Nice Memorial Weekend in Salisbury and Chincoteague. Again the weather was not cooperating for kayaking, but always a nice day for a hike.

Hung out at the visitor center a bit. Watched a film on the two distinct herds of horses and ponies. One in Maryland and one here. Down here they manage the size of the herd with birth control and an auction to benefit the volunteer fire department.

Hiked over to the light house. Too many people in line to go to the top. We will come back on a week day.

Sailors memorial behind the light house.

I always liked a B&W of various light houses.

Kathy’s mom hiked with us today.

It struck me as odd that the light house was on the bayside and not on the ocean. Pooling on the beach after high tide.

Windy and chilly. But lots of people on the beach. A few swimming. Safety zone flag.

On the opposite side of the ocean shore is Toms Cove. Some kayakers and bird photogs.

Clams, mussels and birds in the marsh.

Digging for dinner.

The brownish orange guy was chasing everyone out of his way.

Pony tails – nice gift shop. But we didn’t see a single horse or pony the whole time!!

Back on the farm – always a favorite view. It amazes me that the pines grew in such a straight line, about 20 deep…until Kathy’s father told me they didn’t just grow that way. He planted them that way! Ha! Dummy me!

Grand Turk Island


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After two and a half days at sea we finally made port. This was a six and a half hour stop. Because I had gotten some sunburn, which is unusual for me, even though I had a ton of SPF50 on, we decided we would not spend all our shore time laying on the beach. I signed us up for a history tour of the island. Woo Hoo!!

Getting ready to dock about 8am. Look at that water.

The dock and visitor center. Be sure to take your Boarding Pass and ID. And don’t cross the yellow lines on the pier!

Kathy waiting for the tour bus…or me to to stop taking photos of everything!

The tour was only supposed to be 1-1/2 hours in an air conditioned bus. it was more like 2 hours. First stop, an area outside of Cockburn Town (our tour guide got a kick out of saying “Cockburn” multiple times??) Above are some local shops.

The first stop was 15 minutes long so we left the main strip and headed towards the salt ponds. Grand Turk was a salt producer.

Quite a few of these around. Raise and lower water in the salt ponds but more importantly, they divert flood waters off the island back into the sea.

Horses and donkeys roam freely on the island. There is our tour bus.

Kathy looking for our winter home. Tour guide said the wooden homes were built from shipwreck wood.

Some of the colorful buildings.

Boat on the beach.

Heading to our next stop we see a replica of John Glenn’s space capsule – don’t blink or you will miss it!

Our second stop was at the far end of the island. The light house. Because of the people who lag behind, that have to use the bathroom after 20 cups of coffee…we didn’t have enough time to go inside.

Kathy making some new friends.

Tour is over and we head back to the ship to change our clothes for the beach. Here comes the Carnival Splendor.

Local took our pic for us. May have been one of the crew members?

Kathy looking for sea glass. Found some nice pieces. This side of the pier had more rock/coral under the water. Had to go out a ways to avoid it. Water was great!

Watching the people on the Splendor disembark. Big ass ship!

Time to set sail and one last memory of our stop on the island…On to Half Moon Cay

Patapsco SP, Avalon


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Due to the possibility of rain, we decided to go hiking at Avalon in the Patapsco State Park instead of going kayaking. I have a new phone app called All Trails which is pretty cool. It documents your hike.

Although it says we were moving for 1 hour and 25 minutes, we were actually there for 3 hours. It does not record every time you stop to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. That is indicated by the thicker line, where we deviated from the trail. Lots of honeysuckle out. The only thing I did not like about this hike was the amount of bikes flying through there. Some had bells, most didn’t.

Entering the park, one of the first things you see is the Thomas Viaduct.

This photo is from the 1930s I believe (DPW Archives). It shows an older train and a newer one from that time.

This photo I took 5 years ago, the last time I visited the park. Soon after this, my Konica Minolta camera would die on me. It was a good camera.

Of course I had to check out the old water works, or what is left of them. Here is some info on that:

On September 30, 1921, the City of Baltimore took over operation of the filters at Avalon. By the purchasing of the Baltimore County Water and Electric Company, the City received a dam and filtration plant on the Patapsco River at Avalon. After this, the filters at Herring Run, near Philadelphia Road, were abandoned and the sand taken to Avalon. Ten years later, the City stops using it.
Of interest is the following:
1923 Correspondence between Edward Rost (Mechanical Engineer), [V].B. Siems (Water Engineer), Edmund Budnitz (Federal Prohibition Director) and A. Bernard Siems (Water Engineer). Concerns sampling water at the Rockburn Branch (Patapsco River), Avalon Pumping Station for pollution caused by illicit liquor still smashed up by Government agents. How the Feds destroyed it and dumped it into the stream, causing the contamination. Excellent description of how the still was built and operated: They built a small dam with a hand pump for water, pumped through a rubber hose and iron pipe to twenty-seven wooden boxes made of pine, made water tight with muslin. They also had a vertical high pressure steam boiler. Scattered around were half gallon mason jars, corn meal and liquid mash. It was suggested by Siems that the mash be hauled away to a local farmer’s manure pit. A follow up letter to the feds by Siems asking that they clean up the corn mash they dumped everywhere, which is still contaminating the stream.

One of the many trails. According to All Trails, there are over 20 miles of trails here.

Tunnels to the other trails.

Another one.

Besides the tunnels to the other side of the train tracks, there were many storm drains. This one had a Tulip Poplar Tree flower. Fell right in place for all to enjoy.

One of our off-trail forages to the river, we came across this guy. There was also an osprey and maybe an adolescent eagle.

Up stream a ways is the swinging bridge. I could swear that when I was young, this bridge was made of rope and wood and it really swung. Now it just kind of bounces.

Five years ago. It was pretty clear under the swinging bridge.

Plein art at the entrance to Cascade Falls.

Well worn trails.

The lower portion of the falls.

Cascade Falls.

Kathy contemplating the sights and sounds of the falls. Molly contemplating how to get off that log and back to land.

Heading back, following the river instead of the trail. Dumpster?

Had trouble finding this guy. An oil tanker that was washed away during Hurricane Agnes, 1972.

This is 5 years ago. So only recently did they (Park people) allow it to get so overgrown. There is a historic marker on the trail – The Forces of Nature.

Walking along the river, found a lot of Sea Glass – actually I guess it is river glass. Also there was an electrical insulator. Found some really nice glass and porcelain. (Kathy found most of it)

A nice day and a wonderful hike. Five years ago I did this hike by myself. It is nice to have someone with me, to enjoy this.

Ghost in the Conduit


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Awhile back I had posted some photographs of the construction work at Loch Raven. The contractor hit and poked a hole through the ten foot conduit that supplies water to Baltimore from the Loch Raven Reservoir. Fortunately, another one of the conduits was in service, so the damage did not affect our drinking water supply. This conduit was installed in 1915. It is riveted, welded steel. Some portions are encased in concrete and a good portion is lined with cement.

I would like to thank Pure Technologies for giving me permission to use their photographs.

Pure crew heading into the conduit. This is near Mine Bank Run, heading towards the dam. The water would eventually be at chest level.

This was interesting and took a little research to figure it out. The smaller opening on the right connected to the 1880 rock and brick tunnel. In 1937 they built a parallel pipe line from Loch Raven to Baltimore and that is the conduit on the left. There is a valve in the smaller pipe stopping the flow of water towards Baltimore. Down stream further, the raw water pipeline becomes potable water from Baltimore, to Towson, at Cromwell.

Continuing the inspection of the conduit. Pretty good shape for being over 100 years old.

The fish like the water (Baltimore water finished in the top ten again this year in a national taste test)

Not sure what this is. Looking at the drawings I saw where there is a drainage system under the steel conduit. But didn’t see this in the drawings.

Pure finally reached their destination. The damage is a little more than we thought. The cement lining has been knocked off.

It is about a 3’x4′ section of damage.

This is the hole that the excavator punched through. There are also about 5-6 dents in the pipe.

When the inspection crew climbed out, I think they brought something with them…