All in all, a super nice day!
All in all, a super nice day!
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!
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 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!
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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…
Yes, we will miss our hikes in Cromwell, but look forward to the new adventures that await us. God is good!
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.
From the parking lot on Belair Rd. we head under the bridge.
Additional graffiti is added every year. And yes we do –
A nice pattern for the walkway under the bridge.
Looking towards Harford Rd.
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.
Across the Falls.
A sandbar up ahead.
Time to look for some river glass.
Not much glass but Kathy found this. Possible arrowhead?
Lots of debris in the Falls – lots of rain all summer. Molly looking for a way around it.
A pond off to the side of the Falls, before Harford Rd.
A foot bridge over the stream that feeds the pond.
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.
Rot inducing pathogens or fungus, whichever you prefer.
Looking thru a leaf to see what I can see…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
All in all, a very nice kayaking adventure!
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.
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.
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!
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.
It was a great weekend in Baltimore. Thanks God and Kathy!!