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!

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One Last Hike Through Cromwell Park

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A lot has been going on here lately. Took two days to settle on my house, moved my daughter to Virginia, moved in with Kathy, working on the house in Salisbury and signed my retirement papers today. My last day working for the City of Baltimore will be January 4, 2019.

Thinking about the things I will miss when I retire and move away from Baltimore…not really a lot. With my job I will miss some of the historical research I do and some of the people I work with – some. I really won’t miss my house too much. It was too big and lonely for me and I only bought it to be closer to work and save on rent and gas. My neighbors were a pain in the ass.

One thing I will really miss is our walks at Cromwell Valley Park. They have always held a special place in my heart. Not just because I volunteered there for a year and made new friends, but also because it is where I met Kathy. So, here is what may very well be our last walk…

Something you don’t see every day up at Loch Raven. A guy playing a bagpipe! I did take a video but like me, it is a little shaky!

Always enjoyed our little house. The first time Kathy and I exchanged photographs with each other, it was of the little house.

Time to pose…

One of my favorite spots is the Balancing Reservoir Shaft.

With its corresponding spillway.

Heading now to the sycamore tree. I have taken a lot of photographs of this tree – it just oozes with majesty and yet some…

…loneliness.

Being a favorite spot, another selfie.

Kathy and her sister Gail have this thing about the #26 – lucky #.

Heading for the car, another look at the kilns.

Yes, we will miss our hikes in Cromwell, but look forward to the new adventures that await us. God is good!

A September Walk on the Little Gunpowder Falls

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A nice little hike we took last month. A little over a mile and a half. The green highlight is our path; from Belair Rd. to Harford Rd. and back. Use caution once you get to Harford Rd. to cross over the bridge. People are flying down that road and approach a curve. It is hard to be seen.

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From the parking lot on Belair Rd. we head under the bridge.003

Additional graffiti is added every year. And yes we do – 005

A nice pattern for the walkway under the bridge.006

Looking towards Harford Rd.008

The trail. I have nothing against Mountain Bikers, as long as they are on a trail that I am not on, but quite a few act like they have the right of way on these narrow spots – you don’t! Common courtesy is the rule of the day.014

Across the Falls.018

A sandbar up ahead.019

Time to look for some river glass.023

Not much glass but Kathy found this. Possible arrowhead?028

Lots of debris in the Falls – lots of rain all summer. Molly looking for a way around it.045

A pond off to the side of the Falls, before Harford Rd.052

A foot bridge over the stream that feeds the pond.054

After crossing over the bridge at Harford Rd. we head back. This path is pretty narrow. In all the years I have hiked the Gunpowder Falls, I have never taken this path for some reason? Kathy practicing her dance moves.064

Rot inducing pathogens or fungus, whichever you prefer.074

Looking thru a leaf to see what I can see…081

Heading to Belair Rd. the path swerves north along the road a few hundred yards before you can climb up and over. Belair Rd. is a 4 lane highway at this point. Speed limit, well doesn’t matter, people again are flying by…082

 

Tiffany Reservoir

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Quite an interesting find: A map from 1867. What makes this map so interesting is that in all my research I never came across any references for having the Gunpowder Falls connected to a reservoir called Tiffany. Everything I read said it would flow by gravity to a new reservoir, Lake Montebello.

First off, let my give a little history on how this water supply came about. Starting in 1836: Samuel Smith, Mayor, appoints a committee to hire the services of a Delaware Engineer named John Randall, to study and recommend a plan for the Baltimore Water Supply. In 1837 John Randall proposed that the City of Baltimore gets its water from the Great Gunpowder Falls. Suggested building two dams, one dam on the Gunpowder near Tysons Mill and the second dam on the Western Run near York Road. Water from these dams was to flow by gravity into the valley of Jones Falls to a receiving reservoir at about Elevation 300. Lake Roland is at 300’

In 1850 consulting engineers are hired to look into Randall’s proposal and then in 1852 a water commission is formed.

1854 Mr. John Smith Hollins, Mayor. Mr. Alfred Duval, Civil Engineer of Baltimore and a private citizen, presented a report to the Council recommending the development of a water supply from the Gunpowder Falls. Duval recommended the building of a dam at Raven’s Rock, the closest point on the Gunpowder Falls to the City, and a tunnel to convey the water by gravity from the dam to a receiving reservoir near Montebello. Mr. Sickles recommended to the Council the adoption of a modified version of the Duval proposal. Mr. Sickles had made extensive surveys and reported to the Mayor and City Council a plan for an ‘air-lined tunnel’ to convey the water of the Gunpowder to the City. An ordinance authorizing such a development was passed by the Council in October but was never signed by the Mayor.

1857 Mr. Thomas Swann, Mayor. Mr. James S. Suter, Water Engineer (April 14, 1857). Original plan for the Jones Falls development was modified by an ordinance adopted in July.  Ordinance instructed Water Commissioners to procure an increased supply of water from Jones Falls “agreeably to a plan heretofore reported to the Council by James Slade, Civil Engineer”. The Water Board is reorganized on April 14 and the first Water Engineer appointed was James Suter.

1860 Swann Lake, (Lake Roland) is completed on the Jones falls.

1861 both the Hampden and Mt Royal Reservoirs are completed.

1866 Mayor John Lee Chapman realizes the approaching inadequacy of Jones Falls as a continuing source of future water supply.

1867 A map of Tiffany Reservoir is drawn up.

As can be seen in this portion of the map below, the location is on the western side of Hillen Road. On a 2018 map it would be the area of Hillen Rd. and 35th St. Where Mergenthaler school is and the area where the houses are on 35th. 

Here is an early photograph of the area where Lake Montebello would be. I am assuming that this is looking east from Hillen Rd to the site of the lake.

And here is an 1880s map showing how the lake and Loch Raven Conduit was (and is) laid out. 

Returning to the Tiffany Reservoir map, a couple things of interest: On the Tiffany map you can see it says Tiffany Conduit connected to Tiffany T (tunnel) then to Herring Run Conduit. Looking close you can see that there are two colorings of this conduit; the first and third sections being blue. The middle section (Tiffany T) is black. All the black sections in this conduit are underground. All the blue ones are open channels. I believe this is where the term ‘Air-lined Tunnel’ came from? That there was not enough head pressure to completely fill the underground portions. Following the tunnel north. The Herring Run Conduit becomes the Sater’s Ridge Tunnel.

And that turns into the Mine Bank Conduit, to the dam at Loch Raven. Another symbol on this map I like is that all the roads pass over the river and streams as regular bridges. On the one below you can see where the road passes over the Gunpowder, below the dam and around the corner, it is colored in, which shows that back in 1867 there was a covered bridge at Cub Hill and Cromwell Bridge roads. 

A couple more items of interest on this map – The location of Glenn Ellen Castle.

Swann Lake (Lake Roland). The title of the Tiffany Map is somewhat wrong. It states “In connection with the Swann Lake Aqueduct.” I believe it should say “In relation to”. On this map I do not see it connected.

The Hampden (Noted as Hampton on map) and Mt. Royal Reservoirs.

And this map portion that shows the Johns Hopkins property before it became Lake Clifton, and a race track in the lower right corner. In a few years from this map’s date, a Baltimore County water filtration plant will be built near the track; using ozone filtering technology. (I forget off hand what the date was – maybe 1907?)

And finally, on the map title is HMF v Stamp as the Chief Engineer. I could not find anything about this person until 1873 where he is listed as the contractor to build the Temporary Water Supply, from the Gunpowder to Roland Run, which fed Lake Roland. It consisted of a couple pumps near Meredith Bridge, running some pipes to dump into Roland Run.

The Tiffany Run Reservoir was never built. Lake Montebello was. Many droughts, flooding of the Jones Falls and finally and over polluted Jones Falls required the new, permanent Gunpowder Works to be built – and is still in service today.

Note: This map is too brittle and too large for my scanner.

Mariner Point Evening Kayak

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Beautiful weather and time to go for an evening kayaking trip at Mariner Point Park up in Joppatowne. We were hoping to see a lot of birds, but only saw a few. Lots of boats and noise going on in the park. Here is our path. (The green dot to the black dot is me forgetting to turn off AllTrails when leaving!)

Heck of a time parking anywhere. The lots were full with boat trailers and there was a party going on at the pavillion. I wrote the park service and the county executive last year about this problem and was more or less told – oh well. Into the kayaks and headed out. 

Kathy took a bunch of these photos. Only a couple flowers along the shoreline. 

Leaving the boat ramp, heading south then a right turn and back north. We actually went further up than the map shows. It also doesn’t show us cutting thru a waterway to the other side. It has us going across land. Lots of sea grass makes paddling a little more work.

Kathy doing the double paddle reflective stroke!

Me trying to avoid eye contact with that heron watching me.

After some paddling in the little waterways (The Gunpowder Rivers/Falls), we headed to open water. Towards the railroad bridge. Watch out for boats!

I always like going under this thing, and hearing the trains go whizzing by overhead.

Kathy should wear a hardhat under here.

Time for some leisurely paddling back to the ramp, waiting for the sun to go down. Up in the trees we see these guys.

Looking close you can see a dragonfly photobomb this pic! Not sure if we scared the eagles off or the dragonfly, but the one eagle almost knocked the other eagle off its perch.

Back in the boat lane, Kathy took a photo of me using her iphone. Strange green glow coming from somewhere.

And another green glow.

The sunset side of the river was dark, yet on the other side it was still fairly light. Caught a glimpse of him up in the trees. As fat as he is, I thought it was a parrot at first.

Kathy enjoying the peacefulness of the sunset. It is hard to get a good shot with a point and shoot camera, especially when boats are going by, causing wakes. Only one boater slowed down as they approached our location.

One thing about my P&S camera, in auto, it compensates for the low light and pretty much does its own thing. Like this water shot.

And this lone osprey shot.

Time to head back. Too many boats at the launch so we pulled up and out at a smaller launch area in the woods. The party was just winding down near the launch site.

All in all, a very nice kayaking adventure!

Photogravure – Copper Plates

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Doing some more packing of my office and here is another pile that needs documenting. I thought these were pretty neat looking when I found them about 10 years ago. I placed them in ziplocks to keep them from getting scratched and then put them away for another day. That day has come.

The three piles on the left are each about 5″ x 7″ x 7/8″ thick. The smaller ones to the right vary.

Here is one removed from its sleeve and placed on shelf to be photographed. 

Same copper plate scanned with color settings at 300dpi. Trying to be careful not to scratch the glass surface of the scanner.

Kind of shabby looking, so I scanned it in Black and White.

Better, but not as good as the original below. This one is an electronic copy from a glass plate negative I scanned back in 2007. In 1913 (I know, it looks like 1915 but it is not) the contractors performed a pressure test on the 10′ conduit from the new dam at Loch Raven to the old dam. 

Tried another one. Color scan first, but at 720 dpi. Pretty bad looking. 

Now in b&W.

Still no good. I had trouble finding a good copy of this. It was not in the glass plate negative groups and not to mention the difficulty of looking for a reverse image. Looked in the lantern slides and there it was.

There is a nice video at this link which shows the Photogravure Process. Glad we have progressed into the digital art stage!

https://photogravure.com/process/

An August Weekend In Baltimore

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Living in Baltimore most of my life, there are but a few things that I have never done while living here: Visited the Peabody Library, climbed to the top of the Washington Monument and gone to the downtown Farmers Market. So, time to check those off my “To-Do” list.

First stop on Saturday morning was the Peabody. They are only opened a few hours on Saturday. 10a-1p. 

Before going in we took a shot of the Washington Monument. A lot of these photos Kathy took.

Heading towards the library.

What a wonderful sight!

All these books! Old books!

And the architecture is amazing.

Of course, since you are not allowed to roam around the upper shelves, the next best thing to do is to look through the card catalogue. My name is there – but no listing of my books!

Kathy also has a listing.

After a while of gazing in amazement at the library, we decided to roam around other parts of the building. The Peabody Music School is here also.

Looking up from the bottom…

And then down from the top. Helter Skelter.

Kathy took this next photo. One of my favorites.

Up and down the halls. I was surprised at all the areas we could venture to.

A history of one of many violin makers.

Random artwork.

Time to leave the Peabody and head outside. Looking at the Washington Monument I noticed that the gate was open! My heart started beating faster! I have always wanted to go in and climb to the top!

Yes! The steps are open! $6 is a small price to pay, to be able to go to the top! And I am off! (Kathy did not want to go, but she said she would take a photo of me looking out the window)

Holy crap! Am I going to make it??!!

Halfway there! Time to stop and catch my breath!!

I knew aliens built this thing! 

So close!

Wow! What a view. (I did take lots of pics, but seriously, you should try to make this trip yourself)!

Another view. I wonder how much longer this steeple will last?

Where’s Kathy? Oh, there she is!

And her photo of me, waving through the window! I tried to enhance but there was just too much sun glare.

One happy camper!

Another view of the monument.

And still another, as I REFLECT on my trip up the steps and catch my breath!

And Kathy’s reflections.

Worked up quite an appetite, so here is where we went. Great food. Highlandtown on Gough St.

That was all on Saturday. Sunday we headed to the Farmer’s Market.

A preacher preaching under the overpass.

Lots of food and art work.

Murals everywhere. I liked both of these. It looks like it says “Horny, Angry Man”?

Lots of fruits and veggies. 

Shrooms!!

No, I do not!

Nor these!

Time for breakfast. Crepes.

And a piece of art.

It was a great weekend in Baltimore. Thanks God and Kathy!!

Random

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Here lately i have been so busy working on multiple houses, I lose track of time, to work on my blogs. Here are some random photos from over the last month or so.

At Kathy’s parents house, a bunch of turkeys were in the field.

I decided to go over to the deer blind (sniper tower), to see if I could get a better view. This guy was watching me.

Stopped at Terrapin Park one weekend. Spotted this guy along the path to the Bay.

On shore were some guys and dolls.

Molly not too happy about going swimming with me. Kathy asked if I have ever swam in the Chesapeake Bay before? I don’t think I have?

Went to Merriweather to see David Byrne. On stage, the opening act.

Walked around a bit. It has been about 32 years since I was last here. Saw Robert Palmer – Addicted to Love tour. Place looks different. Various sculptures around.

From a distance, I thought this was a statue of a football player.

Sun going down and time to head to our seats.

These next photos Kathy took of the band. I gave up long ago with my camera. I couldn’t get focused.

Another shot. Another song.

And the house that will soon be our home, thanks to the Culver’s.

 

Loch Raven and the Rain

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The never-ending rains are here so I decided to check out the water works and see what is going on. Montebello Lake has risen quite a bit. If the grounds crew does not cut all the way to the water line, the phragmites will once again encroach the banks.

A look in the gate house on the lake. This flow is normally about 11-13 mgd. Today it is at 21 mgd. And for those of you who do not know – no, this is not drinking water going to waste. The Montebello Lake is where the impurities from the treatment plant settle out along with the dissipation of the chlorine before it goes into Herring Run. 

On my way over to Kathy’s for some steamed crabs, she calls me and says I should check out Loch Raven before coming to her house, so I did. I parked behind Sander’s and walked over to where Mine Bank Run and the Gunpowder Falls meet. Wow!

It hasn’t been this high for a while. On Loch Raven Drive, the bridge over Mine Bank Run. This is the stream we were walking in the other day, towards Cromwell Park.

Heading up the Drive a little farther and looking back towards Cromwell Bridge Road.

Back to my car and headed to the 1881 dam. One of these days someone will fulfill their promise to me and let me in to photograph looking down into these chambers. Not holding my breath! The new, unused maintenance facility up in the background.

From the top of the dam, looking across – that is a lot of water.

I am amazed that this log is still here after all these years. I just want to jump up and down on it to get it the hell off the top of the dam! Damn log! Log jam at the dam.

Climbed down to the bottom of the dam, along the retaining wall. The water is lapping along the top of the wall.

Here we can see that the integrity of the wall is starting to give a little bit. The water is gurgling up through the wall on the left, which means there are holes in the wall. Overall, not bad for a wall that was built in the 1880s.

Looking across the Gunpowder to the opposite shore.

Then towards the dam itself. Remembering when Kathy and I were able to gingerly stroll across here, to get to the other side!

On Loch Raven Drive, looking towards the new dam.

If there is this much mud and silt from the small streams that feed the Gunpowder, can you imagine all the crap in the waters of the Susquehanna River! 444 miles of dirty water emptying into that river and then our Bay!

The water above the new dam is our drinking water. And even though this water looks pretty muddy and full of debris, once filtered at Montebello, it is still some of the best drinking water in the country. (Think I will get a raise for that promo! Ha!!)