Nassawango Iron Furnace

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Sunday has become Kathy and my day of rest time, but since neither of us can sit still for too long – Road Trip! Called the people at Furnace Town and they are open with free admission for Easter.

Here is the History Marker on Rte. 12. 

Two other times we were here it was closed and I had previously posted photos of the visitor center, so I will spare the repetition. The area is about 300 acres, a Living History Village with an old iron furnace and remnants of the town that use to be there, along with some buildings moved there from other locations.

Before hiking over to the furnace itself we were treated to a nice talk and history lesson by Jessica, the director of the Village and Visitor Center. Then onto the various buildings. Being Easter Sunday our first stop was the church.

It was a very simple time back then but I am sure life was somewhat rough. The church was built in 1874 and then relocated to the Village in 1980. Here is an interior view.

Next stop was the wood shop. 

And the interior view.

On to the next building – The Blacksmith’s Shop.

For those who don’t know, a Living History Village has demonstrations and classes on the various trades back then. Here you can learn all about being a blacksmith. The work they do here is scattered throughout the area and some for sale in the visitor center.

Now to where I’ve been waiting to go – the Furnace.

View heading up the ramp. The white placards on the post are names of the donors who contributed to the rebuilding.

The mill race underneath.

A close-up of the water.

Historical plague.

The furnace with a mirror to see downwards from the top.

Underneath.

Side view. Kathy’s photo with a Dandelion.

Different view.

And another.

While down the bottom of the furnace, by the mill race, Kathy ran into this guy.

Moving on, here is the interior of the Weave House.

The Museum Building looks more like a church to me.

A replica of a building that is no longer there.

Then there is this guy.

And who he was…

The Broom House.

And what they made.

Almost finished.

Tools of the trade for hogs.

Sign.

Next was one of my favorites – Print shop.

Kathy checking it out.

Tools of the trade.

Me checking it out.

Some of the things they print up.

And.

And… it looks like some pieces are missing from this one.

Ye Olde Out House.

Gardener’s Shed.

One room school house. Built in 1869 near Whiton Md. Closed in 1931, moved to Snow Hill in 1959, then to the village in 2015.

Simple, basic education.

A shadow of a less complicated time.

But surely still having its fair share of misfits.

This sculpture would be a great idea to be done for the lime kilns at Cromwell Valley Park. If I was more artistic, I would build it.

From here we headed to Chincoteague for some lunch on the beach.

And then a nature loop ride through the preserve.

Another great adventure! Thanks God.

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O.C. in the Spring

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After Cypress Park we headed to Ocean City for some lunch. Bikes, dogs and walkers. Dogs and bikes thru May 1st I believe. Humans anytime.

New construction going on. Looks like bollards? 

Yes they are. Kathy said she once rode her car up on the boardwalk years ago.

Favorite art store. Bought Paul McGehee’s Old Baltimore at Twilight here a few years back.

Here is our postcard to you!

Time for lunch. Call me un-American, but I really do not like vinegar on my fries. At least there is not the usual summer wait in line.

Although, being retired and down the ocean, time is not important. This clock has been in this same position for a long time…

Kathy taking a risk holding up her fries like that – when seagulls attack!

The empty haunted house.

Walked up to the end. To the left is where we were the other day – at Assateague. 

Scene from Final Destination #3..

Kathy’s pic of the Ferris wheel. Nice.

Time to head onto the beach.

Then under the fishing pier.

What is your favorite one – Surf City by Crack the Sky or Surfer Girl by the Beach Boys? 

The North Easterly Easter Bunny.

Another great adventure. Happy Happy.

Cypress Park Nature Trail

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While watching the local news for Delmarva, a segment came on asking for volunteers to help with a small park near Pocomoke City, adjacent to the Pocomoke River. We decided to head down and check it out. It was a short 30+ minute drive to get there. Here is the map. The park is right off of Rte. 13.

There was no one there except for Kathy, Molly and myself. And as will be seen in later photographs, the park/trail is in need of some TLC from volunteers! The path is made up of woods and boardwalks.

Kathy and Molly checking out the boards. The overall length of the hike is about 1/2 mile. Nice day for a walk, but beware – Ticks are out in full force!

After a walk along the water, the trail heads into the woods. This is looking back towards the pond.

Then lo and behold what do we see?

A bridge. A foot bridge.

And there we go.

The feed to the pond is from the Pocomoke River. Up river a ways, at Snow Hill, Kathy and I kayaked. Deep dark waters.

This next section of the trail could really use some help.

The cypress off-spring (Cypress knee) are covered with all sorts of growth.

And take many shapes.

Freshly gnawed beaver tree, toppled over.

Kathy getting a close-up view…

…of beautiful tree markings. Do you think it is a dogwood? No. How can you tell? By its bark! woof-woof. Molly thought it was funny.

Across another little stream to the opposite side of the pond. This puts you right next to Rte. 13, headed towards a cemetery.

Stay to the left to remain on the trail.

Bird holes or a screaming tree? It is your imagination to do with as you please.

Kind of early for this to be blooming out here in the woods don’t you think? It’s an artificial flower, probably blown over here from the cemetery. Oh! duh!

Well, this one is real!

Heading back to the parking lot.

Looking over at the foot bridge, two of four geese on the pond. Not much wildlife around.The silence was actually nice.

i won’t even go there, about mustache rides!

Mushroom condo.

Not a long hike so from here we headed to Ocean City for some Thrasher Fries.

The Beauty of Assateague, other than the ponies

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Off to Assateague we go. First the National Park side on the bay and then the State Park. Glad we got passes when we did.

Boardwalk to the bay side. 

Molly always enjoys the beach.

Except when she heads onto the grasses. The seaweed wasn’t bad but behind where Kathy is sitting is all sand-burs. Played hell getting them out of her paws.

Crushed shells.

The beauty of drift wood.

The shoreline at one time was full of cacti. It is slowly eroding away.

Like pulling mussels from a shell…

A petrified snapping turtle eating a thorn stem…well, that’s what it looks like to me!

We will always miss our little house at #Cromwellvalleypark, but we now have the Naturalist Shack!

Egret off in the distance. A couple seagulls landed on his/her little island. Hope they don’t try snatching any eggs!

No prompting from us – I think it helped soothe her sore feet.

Oh jeez Molly!! Glad we brought a lot of poop bags!!

Love retirement!!

Ocean side of the parks, before the crowds.

Ocean City in the far off distance.

Another day doing what we love. Did see some ponies but we enjoy ALL that nature and life has to offer!!

Thanks God.

Early March Hike

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Retirement has been hard work and it seems like forever since we have been able to find the time to enjoy a really nice hike. It was really cold and windy when we hiked Chincoteague a couple of weeks ago. Today did not seem like a good day to hike with the impending storm on the way, but we said the hell with it. We need to get out!

So off we went. We decided on somewhere local in case the weather took a turn for the worse. Pemberton Historical Park is just southwest of Salisbury and just a few minute drive from home. Here is the historical marker as you enter the park.

Sme more history can be found on their website. Very interesting. The trail map below. We hiked the Bell Island, Osprey and History trails, along with part of the Handy Hall Trail.

Entering the park is a nice fence…

A man-made fence vs. a fence Mother Nature is making…

The trail head consists of various older buildings. Including this restroom.

This looks to be an old bunker/storage building of some sorts.

A nice theater.

And a rounded dam. I can almost picture years ago this being made of wood and then maybe stone. 

A little island picnic area.

Kathy taking a photo of me…

taking one of her.

 

Dreary yet some nice colors.

Boardwalks 

and bird boxes.

Molly hears it…

I see it.

And kathy sees it.

An eagle on the top of the lone tree dead center

Hard to get a good shot this far away. (I do not carry a bunch of lenses and stuff with me when hiking)

More colors.

This was in the path. nicely strange. Kathy took this one.

When one tree fell, I guess it took the other one with it.

Dead center and this thing was humming.

Lone growth up in the trees.

A beaver house.

As I walk away…

A penny for your thoughts (I’m thinking – Don’t touch it! It looks like a booby-trap!)

A wonderful adventure in our new neck of the woods!!

Thanks God.

https://www.pembertonpark.org/pemberton-park/index.htm

Chincoteague

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We haven’t hiked here since May 2017. It is nice living close by. Less than an hour away. Kathy and I needed a nice little road trip. Selling homes, moving, moving again and retiring is a lot of work!

It was chilly and very windy on both the ocean and bay sides of the island. One large sand dune blocks the ocean from the parking lot, for the whole length of the lot. Kathy and Molly climbing over the dunes.

Glad I didn’t take my good camera – I’ve ruined two of them over the years from sand getting into them. The sand was stinging our faces. Looking up the beach.

After getting sandblasted on the ocean beach, we headed to bay side – Tom’s cove.

Windy still but nice. The snow geese were hanging out.

Including I believe, the Adult Blue Morph.

Seagulls were plentiful and a delight to watch (Always better watching them on the beach than at Thrasher’s!) 

This guy, below, kept picking this object up, dropping it to crack it open and then taking it to the pool to wash it off. He discovered that it wasn’t edible.

Heading away from the ocean and driving to the mainland we saw this guy.

And this guy off in the distance, standing away from the rest of the herd.

Seeing the lighthouse off in the distance we headed that way.

Belongs to the Coast Guard. Last time we were here, there were way too many people to get a half way decent shot.

Historic info.

Nice day for a much needed hike. The park police did stop us to inform us that it is illegal to bring a pet onto a National Wildlife Refuge. Never would have guessed that Molly doesn’t count as wildlife!

First Hike 2019

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A couple weeks ago, Kathy signed us up for a State Park First Hike at Calvert Cliffs. Although overcast, the weather was great for hiking. 

Here is the State Roads Commission historical marker.

The one thing about organized hikes, there are usually a lot of people. One of the rangers giving the tour said there were about 200 hikers here and about 50 dogs.

Heading down the path (like lemmings headed towards a cliff) it was somewhat congested.

But then, because of the different rates that people hike and how much a dog pulls you along, it started to thin out.

Trail was muddy but it was a really nice hike. About 3.6 miles. Many small streams that fed a lagoon. Geese frolicking in the water.

Nice boardwalk along the water.

An unnatural naturalist looking for wildlife.

Signs of beaver activity.

 

Looks like lightning struck this beaver feeding tree.

Not sure if the lagoon was man made or beaver made. 

A lone turtle trying to catch some sun.

The road to nowhere.

Actually, on the other side of the water is a natural gas company. We made it to the cliffs, beach, along with everyone else. Too many people for me.

But that didn’t stop Kathy from kicking off her hiking boots and going into the bay.

Out in the bay is this monster. A natural gas loading/unloading structure.

And off in the far distance there is a light house. Pretty bad shot, but got me curious.

A nice hike but disappointed that the cliffs were blocked off. 

I guess I was thinking they were more like the White Cliffs of Dover or something like that. Kind of small. 

When Kathy was finished playing in the water, we took a casual stroll back, enjoying the colors on a less crowded path. Then we came upon this guy. sitting alone, so we stopped to keep him company.

For a couple years we have been looking for natural letters from the alphabet. Kathy found a small r – 

And then an o – 

I told her she now needs to find an n! (she wanted to find a g also, because that is what I am – (W)rong!) Anyway, personal humor aside, we found this little bridge.

Then back out, beyond the ranger’s station, Kathy saw this metal hoop.

Looking closely about, we found an old structure. 

Another shot of the area.

Some purple/blue/black berries.

Then finally, a Bee Hotel and Kathy very happy at the end of our First Hike of 2019.

Leaving Calvert Cliffs we went in search of the light house. And here it is.

Locked up behind a fence!

All in all, a super nice day!

Thanks God.

 

Last Hike Before First Hike

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Saturday was a nice day for a hike, so we thought we would end our year hiking somewhere new. This will be our last hike of the year. We decided to hike the Gunpowder Falls, in a section neither of us have been to. Loch Raven Blue Trail off of Merryman’s Mill Road. We hiked to the Overshot Point and back. A little over two miles, but we spent a couple hours enjoying the sun and trail. AllTrails says we walked further, but I doubt it! This would be pretty damn good if it was true! 

Not a lot of parking at the trail, so get there early. By the time we left, the lot was full.

Some spots were wet. Mostly a rocky, rain-runoff-ditches terrain.

Not sure who R.C. Dye is but they have their own sign.

Other than some debris in the reservoir, the trail was clean. We never take in more than we can carry out – leaving only our foot prints and our love of nature.

The Blue Trail goes all the way up the hillside then cuts over to the power lines. We like hiking along the river, so we found a log and crossed over one of the many streams. Molly not too happy about that.

I always liked these alien writings on the logs.

And I am so glad we went off the trail like we did! Otherwise we may have missed this! 

Another view:

While at work I will try to find an old property map to tell me who this structure belonged to. It appears to be a nice size house.

I think someone lost a Christmas wreath.

Taking the Blue Trail, we probably would have missed the Overshot Point. Nice view of the upper reservoir.

Windy, causing the waves to lap at the shore.

The geese, hanging on a rock.

Kathy and Molly, hanging on the shore.

My turn to enjoy and reflect on my upcoming retirement. (If you could only see the grin on my face!!)

Time to head back. Our contribution to Art in the Park – acorn tops placed like fairy houses on the tree shrooms.

Nice roots.

I like walking in the winter because you get to see things that were hidden by all the growth of summer. We probably would have not seen the remains of that house in the summer. Sometimes in winter hiking, everything looks so desolate, but then you come across a burst of color and get to enjoy the beauty of the moment.

This was our last hike of 2018. I look forward to our first hike of 2019 – Calvert Cliffs!

Thanks God for another year of hiking!

The Unknowns

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As I continue my final countdown to retirement, which started 7 years ago, I have been placing all of my historical research of Baltimore’s Water Supply History onto the City’s intranet and an external hard drive, so that the person that takes my place, Andy, will be able to access the records easier. While moving the electronic files around, I have been coming across photographs marked as ‘Unknowns’, of which some still are, but others, that over the years, I have been able to figure out.

Reflecting back to my early years of doing research, it comes to mind that there has been quite a few people who have helped me along the way…

One such person was Martha, from the Historical Society of Baltimore County. After I cleaned out a room to make way for the new engineers, unbeknownst to me, one of those engineers gave some of our Glass Plate Negatives to Martha. These were over sized negatives that she used a photographic enlarger to make prints out of. At this time I had begun my research, haphazardly I must add! She brought back the negatives with accompanying photographs. Here is one:

From this print I was able to determine that one of my unknowns was a different view of this site – the building of the Montebello Lake Gate House between 1875-1880. Here is the GPN that I found:

For the next couple of years Martha and I would butt heads on how I was doing my documenting/research and that is ok, we all have our opinions. Mostly we butted heads on her grandfather’s house at Montebello. She wants to save it, I would like to see it torn down. I have another blog on here about that.

Sometimes people help with a simple suggestion. I think it was Chris from Facebook who told me this next photo was of the Cross Keys Gate House on Falls Road. Which it turned out to be. The wood structure, which was a storage shed for alum, no longer exists. Soon after this I was invited to a Historical Preservation meeting on designating this as a historical building.

Bill, also from FB helped me with his suggestion on how to restore/fix some of these old photographs by using a simple tool in Photoshop Elements called the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Below is an example, before:

And after.

As can be seen, these photos did not have any markings on them, but by comparing the men in the photos to others, I was able to determine when and where these were taken. Below, one of my favorites, only because the man reminds me of Seth Bullock, was an unknown.

Matching him to another I found, that this was during the building of the diversion sewer around the then being built Lake Ashburton.

This next unknown didn’t really make much sense to me until I found one that was marked from the internet.

Looking close at the one below (Source, Special Collections MdHS) I was able to figure out that the above one is of the Hampden Reservoir.

These next few I had no clue about when I first found them years ago. After lots of research and inquiries from downtown and the public I was able to note that this is of Lake Clifton and its Gate House.

And this one, just marked as unknown, I needed to look at from a different perspective – imagine the front of the building instead of the rear – it is the high service engine house (noted in another blog).

Sometimes the numbers on a GPN helps me figure out what is going on. This one, well not much going on but I was later able to figure out that one of the Water Engineers took this photograph. It was to be the future location of the 1912-1915 site for the new Loch Raven Dam.

Again, a date and a number identifies this one as being part of the collection for the construction of Lake Ashburton. Another tell-tale sign is the engineer’s office in the background, which other photographs have been found, already labelled.

What appears to be a still, which I wouldn’t doubt and that I previously wrote about there being: The Stills At Avalon. Turns out to be where Montebello made there own liquid alum.

Originally marked as unknown and the fact that at the time it was found, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that there was one dam built on top of another at Loch Raven. But this is what is going on here. Sometimes I would mark the photos as unknown if there was no date on them.

A favorite that went along with the above is this one. I knew what the drawing is of, just didn’t know the circumstances of the room. Turns out to be the photographers work shed on site.

This next one, after reading the Annual Reports, turns out to be of City employees searching for 2 boys that supposedly drowned in a quarry. The bodies were not recovered.

This next one is from a collection, another of which I asked the FB public to help me with, but no one knew, is of an ice floe. From the date I am thinking along the Gunpowder Falls? I was hoping someone would recognize the building.

This one, from 1909, I never figured out. I sure would like to find it and see what is at the top of the stairs! 1909 suggests Lake Ashburton. But where??

A few other people who have helped me along the way – Ed Papenfuse, retired State Archivist. Kurt Kocher, DPW Public Information Spokesperson. Rudy Chow, Director of Public Works who gave me permission to continue my research. Tim Bradin, my old boss who let me buy an expensive scanner with City money. All the City employees who kept an eye out for historical stuff just laying around or in the dumpster (received an 1875 drawing that was found in the recycle bin down town). I also thank the Baltimore City Archives, the Baltimore Historical Society, who have always shown an interest in my work, the Historical Society of Baltimore County, the new and old acquaintances I made on FaceBook  and many others. And thanks to Kathy who will listen to my excitement of a new historical find, smiling and wondering what the hell am I talking about, but still encourages me to continue on.

Wow, all those thank yous makes it sound like I am leaving or going somewhere! I am! I am retiring and moving to the Eastern Shore in the next couple weeks – but I will be back!

Some Favorites Before I Go

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My time is winding down, working for the City of Baltimore, so I thought I would share some favorite photographs from my research and my time here…

This photograph is the one that started my writing. I guess it was sometime in the late 1970s that I started keeping journals of my life. Not sure why, but I did. Some were just in the form of letters that I later copied into an electronic file of my life, that I later turned into my auto-biography. This photo though started my writing on Baltimore’s Water Supply History, which was preceded by Building the Gunpowder Falls – Montebello Tunnel 1935 – 1940.

I have written about this photograph in an earlier blog post on October 20, 2017. Here are the introductory pages from my book that explains it:

Sometime in the late 1980s, renovations began in an old storage section of Plant II at the Montebello Filters on Hillen Road, in Baltimore City. This storage room was to be converted into an office area for the newly hired Water Treatment Engineers. Resident engineers were nothing new to the filtration plant, but somewhere in time, Plant Managers, Maintenance Supervisors and Bureau Chiefs had replaced them. Therefore, the addition of engineers to the staff became a momentous occasion, sparing no expenses to build them a new office and to make them feel welcomed.

It was just by coincidence that the storage area slated for renovation housed a majority of the records from the previous engineers, along with hundreds of glass plate negatives and photographic lanternslides. The maintenance supervisor of that time just saw boxes of junk and gave instructions to throw it all away. Thinking that the information in these boxes looked interesting, I told the laborers working on the project to take all this ‘junk’ and put in a room on the second floor. This second floor storage area actually did house a bunch of junk and a few years later, when I needed extra storage space, I went over and started cleaning out this room.

While sorting through the boxes, trying to decide what was worth keeping, I decided to keep it all, that I would just go ahead and straighten it out, putting it on shelves. It was while going through the material that I realized what a treasure trove of information was there: old blue prints, engineers’ logs, personal journals, water contracts dating back to the early 1900s, deeds to lands obtained by the city through the courts (along with the judge’s personal journal, dating back to the 1880s), early photographs and so much more. After I had sorted it all out the best I could, I left it alone for quite a few years.

In 2005, Richard Vann, one of the newly hired engineers, received instructions to put together a history of the water department; mostly just listing all the water contracts and what work was done for each one. However, Richard, being a very thorough individual, started listing everything, from who the mayor was to what the inspector’s names were on the jobs. He put this information in chronological order but found that there were gaps in his work, that years were missing from the little bit of records that he had. I then showed him the books and information that I had found years earlier and he started to enter this information into his time line.

In 2006, my boss asked me to assist Richard in what he was doing. We were having electrical problems at the time and I was to work with him to put together a diagram showing all the electrical work done over the years. In the 26 plus years that I have worked here, there has always been a construction project going on, but no one has ever put together an ‘as built’ drawing of the electrical system. So I set up shop adjacent to Richard’s office and via email, he sent me the information that he had. While reading the chronology, I remembered that I had seen additional information, even photos, of things Richard had written about, packed away in the second floor storage area. I decided to go back through all those shelves and boxes of history and see what I could match up to what he had listed.

When I came upon the glass plate negatives, I decided to have some of them processed and turned into photos. This became an expensive proposition so I decided to learn how to do this on my own. My boss gave me permission to buy the equipment I needed, which was no more than a scanner capable of scanning 8” x 10” negatives and Lantern Slides, software to invert the negatives into a positive and a good printer.

While working with one of the lanternslides, I noticed something odd, that in a tunnel, where workers were excavating, there were train tracks that came to a dead end under what looked like a giant boulder. This particular slide came from a box from around 1938, so I asked Richard if he had any information on an event of that year that was of interest. Sure enough, he showed me the Annual Report covering the year 1938 where it was reported that an explosion had occurred in the building of the Gunpowder-Montebello Tunnel.

This notation in the report was only about a half a paragraph long, nothing more than a blurb, so I decided to investigate it further. Searching through all those records that were about to be thrown away 20 years ago, stumbling across filing cabinets that had been stored at the Ashburton Filtration Plant (Home of the Water Engineers in the late 1950s), and researching the archives of the local newspapers, I was able to piece together the story below.

(Note: Upon further research, I found that the picture above was not from the tunnel explosion, but rather a progress photo from 1938 of the heading  being loaded and wired for blasting. Unfortunately, the tunnel explosion photos are missing from the collection.)

I would like to take this time to thank Richard Vann, Water Systems Engineer, for pointing me in the direction to find this information. His chronology alone could fill a book.

This next photo, from 1921, inspired me to start writing young adult fiction. When the City was buying up all the properties around the Gunpowder Falls, with the intent to raise the dam from an elevation 188′ to 270′ (settled on el 240′) many families and businesses were displaced. To me this is a sad photograph. The woman and her 3 children, who are renters, being displaced for a damn dam. (Not sure if this house was in the 270′ or 240′ flood lands, in either case, the City would still take to enlarge its watershed). 

Here is the opening to a book I have yet to finish. Hopefully some day. Not yet edited for correctness..

The Children of Warren
“Jennifer, wake up. We have to go.”
“No! I don’t wanna!”
“Come on, you know what today is! You don’t want them to flood us out, do you?”
With that, Jennifer sits up in her bed and looks at her mother, eyes wide open and says, “They couldn’t do that! You wouldn’t let them, would you mom?”
Her mom pulls her close, reassuringly, and tells her, “Honey, if I had my way, they wouldn’t be allowed to flood us out at all, but it ain’t up to me. So come on, get up and get yourself dressed.”
With that, Jennifer pulls herself to the side of the bed and when her feet touch the cold dirt floor she shrieks in disgust, “Mom! Why’d they take the floor out? Why couldn’t they wait until we were gone!”
“Honey, we’ve been over this a hundred times” her mother says, trying not to sound irritated at the constant questioning of ‘why’. “You know your father and me had to sell off what we could before the City took it from us.”
“But I loved our floors mommy. Daddy worked so hard making them pretty for us.”
“I know honey” her mom says, reminiscing about better days in Warren…

I showed this initial writing to a friend and explained the story (kids go back to the town before it is flooded and get caught in the flood…) and they told me there was already a movie about this kind of event, called “In Dreams” with Robert Downey Jr. Ha!