History Hike Part 1


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Between the work on our houses and going to Salisbury, yesterday was our first opportunity to take a hike. A little over-cast but a very nice day. The map shows we walked about 3-1/2 miles on the Little Gunpowder Trail, starting at Jerusalem Mill.

We headed thru the field to first look at the progress of the old stone structure. Not much done.

From there onto the Jericho Covered Bridge.

Interior of bridge.

Since this was a short walk, we decided to follow the road for a bit instead of taking the other trail back. Here is a roadside attraction.

Overlooking the stream. 

A nice ice floe with some blue ice.

Beavers getting their fill. First time I have seen a double gnawing on a tree?

Another view of the ice floe.

A small stream feeding into the Falls.

And what do we have here?

An old mill race. Kathy could see that I was excited to see this, so she prodded me on for us to go down there and take a look. 

So we did. Molly wasn’t too enthused about this. Ice hanging off the rocks.

The mill race valve structure (More later on the mill)

Molly was pretty much done with walking on the ice, so I picked her up and still managed to get some photos while Kathy was taking my pic.

Out of the mill and headed farther south. Sign about the town of Franklinville.

Nice place to be.

Passing thru Franklinville and onto the old iron bridge.

From the bridge. Looking north.

Then looking south. Kathy took a great photo of this. Hoping she shares soon!

Time to head back. Saw this guy on the way.

A leaf left its mark in the asphalt, with the help of a lot of salt.

This is a long narrow road. Most drivers were very cautious approaching us. Nice fence.

The covered bridge from the west side.

Molly back on the ice, floating around.

If you are still long enough, you can hear the ice crack.

How much longer can this tree hold on?

Jerusalem Mill road. Bridge over stream.

Later I will write about the history portion of our hike. Some interesting stuff!!




One Thing Leads to Another


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Sometimes the requests I receive for historical information have nothing to do with Water and Sewage. A friend from the Pratt Library and then one from the Baltimore City Archives both sent me request for information on a 1990 article in the Maryland Historical Society Magazine. The article concerned rye whiskey made in Maryland. Accompanying the article was this photograph.

The caption underneath states:  “At Wolfe and Aliceanna streets, about 1910 (Actual 1907), a Phillip Lobe Co. vehicle speeds barrels of Ram’s Horn whiskey to saloons. Photograph courtesy Baltimore Public Works Museum.” The person seeking the information wrote me this: I am a relative of Phillip Lobe and am writing an article about his business for a national bottle collector’s magazine. I would love to use this photo in my article as well as getting a nice, clean version of the photo if possible.
Could you help me with that pursuit?
Susan Adler Davis
Since the photo came from the DPW Museum, of which I have been documenting, I was able to find a much clearer photograph. On the side of the wagon to the right, Rams Horn, it has written; Lobe and Son W. Pratt Street. The caption in my notes states: SWC 2. Wolf and Aliceanna Sts. showing gutter plates and openings.

While searching for the above, I came across some other photographs that I forgot about. And this is how my mind wanders, from one thing to another!

From the same time period, you can see the obstacles that the water department faced in the installation of mains and drains. Caption in notes for the above: SWC 3. Charles and Saratoga Sts. Obstructions in trench. (Storm Water Contract #3)

Another concern while installing mains was trolleys zipping by: SWC 1. Showing excavation at North and Madison Aves. 

Of course there was always a crowd watching: SWC 3. Saratoga St above Gay showing obstructing pipes and conduit.

More pipes: SWC 2. South St at Pratt showing nest of pipes encountered in SW trench.

There was always the possibility of adjacent homes crashing down on the workers: SW87. Belair Rd extension, N of Hamilton, showing rock condition.

And you also had the placing of wood pipe connections to concrete ones: SWC 2. 62” wooden stave pipe at outlet of Light St drain. (Other marking: Showing barrel construction of outlet).

But one of the bigger problems was when you had to go through someone’s house or business: Reinforced concrete sewers through D.E. Foote Canning Factory, Woolford’s Dock, foot of Castle St.

More pipes to work around: SWC 3. Double 50”x69” storm water drain in Market Place at Baltimore, looking towards outlet.

So my mind wanders more times than not, but it is always fun and a pleasure to research these sort of things! I look forward to reading Ms Davis’ article.



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Trip this weekend to Salisbury. Nice ice.

Crossed the Bay Bridge heading east and Kathy says that we should stop on the shore and take a photo of the bridge. Go to Hemingway’s parking lot, I get out and say “Aren’t you coming?” No, too cold! And it was very cold with the breeze coming off of the icy bay.

Looking towards the container ships.

Most roads were pretty clear. A couple drifts on 50 between Easton and Cambridge. Then we made it. The Chokey or the woodshed?

The footbridge over the frozen pond.

A favorite meditation bench.

Molly only lasted out here, in her new coat, for just a couple minutes.

Unknown footprints into the pond.

On the way home we drove towards Blackwater Refuge. I say drove towards because we got kind of lost. We did end up at a part of the refuge we had never been to. The roads here were pretty clear also.


Black water – black sand…

We saw a few eagles and a couple herons.

And instead of turning towards the park, where the visitor center is, we ended up at Hearns Cove and Wingate Creek.

Boats frozen in place.

Dock in B/W

Nice little post office and name.


Let’s Get The Lead Out


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I was recently called over to the contractor’s worksite because they hit another pipe underground. Another one not on their drawings but included in other drawings (Why the engineers don’t look at other record drawings is beyond me). This is a special pipe that I was looking forward to them hitting. I knew it was just a matter of time.

Here it is – a 4″ lead pipe inside an 8″ Terra Cotta pipe. Why is it special? Because I always wanted to see how the alum, manufactured at Plant II was piped across the street to Plant I.

When I first started working at Montebello, these bins were just hanging from the ceiling.

When I asked about them, I was told that alum use to be made here.  When you go upstairs, this is what it looks like.

And years ago, this was the alum plant.

The water engineers boiled up their own alum in lead lined vats and it was then pumped across the street through the lead pipes. Below is one of the vats right after the lead was replaced. Over the years there were many contracts to recoat the insides of the vats. When the vats were no longer used, city workers climbed down into them to remove the lead sheeting. 

Below is a photograph from an old water works magazine showing lead and terra cotta pipe.

Lead pipes have been in use since the early Roman days. It was also used as a seal on pipes as shown below. In 1974 a lot of the old gate valves were replaced with butterfly valves. They did not replace the pipe. You can see where brackets hold the pipe together where lead is in the joints. These joints being made 1912-1915.

Another photo of a lead jointed pipe. I believe this is the water main under Curtis Creek. Looking close you can see the workmen pouring the lead into the joint. 

The City being the City and always trying to save money started using a lead substitute called Leadite. They also used a sealant over the lead called Hyrolene-B as seen in this 1907 photo.

You have to feel kind of sorry for the contractors (and the city) for all the antiquated piping underground. Here is a site on Montebello property showing the obstacles of past contractors. Unfortunately, these abandoned lines were and are never removed. This photo shows a 5” conduit, 8” raw water, 10” water supply, 4” alum, 4” lead alum and 6” sanitary all in one pit. Under the very top conduit is the 13,000 volt, cement encased, electrical duct bank.

For your further historical pleasures – here is a history of lead in Baltimore:

1923 – Leadite Use: Bureau adopts leadite as a jointing compound and as a substitute for lead on water main installations. Leadite eliminates the use of caulking and can withstand the enormous pressure that the water mains are subjected.
Contract No. 84: Lead Lining Tanks: The Specification was dated July 21, 1926. Contract was awarded to the Joseph G. Graydon & Sons of Baltimore on July 21, 1926.
1930 – The Hampden Reservoir was drained. The outlet gates were closed permanently where possible by welding and then sealed with lead.
1931 – The liquid alum being made at Montebello is more acidic and corrosive than the lump alum. The cast iron pipes and valves can not stand up to this type of corrosion. They were replaced by pure chemical lead for the pipes and hard lead for the valves. Maintenance also had problems with the lead lining in the alum boiling tanks cracking.
A 1934 article appeared in several technical journals, which had given a general survey of the mineral contents, as determined by means of a spectrograph of the water used by 50 cities throughout the country. Baltimore was 1 of the 50 cities used in the survey, and the article indicated that the drinking water as delivered to its citizens contained lead as high as 0.3 parts per million, which was an amount generally accepted as detrimental to the health of people continuously drinking such water. The Water Department being stunned by this article, since this value was higher than any that had ever been noted, decided to ascertain the exact truth of the matter. The Montebello laboratory carried on a series of careful determinations extending through the year 1935. The City Health Department laboratory, not knowing the tests being conducted by the Montebello laboratory, conducted their own investigation for the lead count in the water. The City Health Department tests confirmed the test values conducted at Montebello. The results indicated that the lead content in the raw water never exceeded 0.2 parts per million and after treatment and filtration at Montebello, the content of lead did not exceed 0.02 parts per million. The normal lead count of the water was 0.01 parts per million. The tests proved conclusively that there was no danger whatsoever from lead poisoning due to the drinking of filtered Gunpowder River water.
1936 –  December 7, 1936 letter from Engineer Small to the Chief of Police concerning the theft of pig lead.
1939 – Minute cracks started to appear in the lead lining of the tanks used in the manufacturing of alum. Tanks lasted ten years and produced 20,000 tons of alum.
1941 – The alum steel tanks were relined with lead. Tank #9 was relined with 20# tellurium lead and placed back into service on June 16. Tanks #5 and #7 are planned to be relined using St. Joe lead. Tank #7 is expected to be placed back into service by January 30, 1942; and Tank #5 is expected in service by March 15, 1942.
1942 – Because of the decision by the War Production Board regarding critical materials, the use of copper tubing for new installations was prohibited starting in August. Copper tubing installation was replaced by Type K lead alloy tubing. The replacement of the lead lining of the alum steel tanks was completed on February 7, 1942.
1949 – Pig lead test (checking for radioactivity). Leadite joints on water pipes are failing due to a high content of Sulphur and carbon in the surrounding soil.
1951 – A contract was awarded on December 26 to lead line the three steel alum storage tanks at Montebello Plant No. 2.
1952 – The lead pipe alum line between Montebello Plant No. 1 and Plant No. 2 had several leaks and was replaced.
1953 – Replaced Sulphuric acid pumps for Alum manufacturing. Also renewed was the lead line transporting the acid from the basement storage tanks to the manufacturing room.
1957 – 4 page Sunday Sun article on Weights and Measures. George Leithauser. Mentions chicken sellers using lead weights in birds.

In the late 1920’s a plasticized sulfur cement compound was developed as an alternate to lead for sealing the pipe joints in the field. This compound is referred to as “leadite”. Leadite was commercially produced up until the early 1970’s, and was used extensively from 1941 to 1945 when lead was scarce as a result of raw material needs associated with World War II. Ultimately, leadite was found to be an inferior product to lead for two reasons. First, leadite has a different coefficient of thermal expansion than cast iron and results in additional internal stresses that can ultimately lead to longitudinal splits in the pipe bell. Secondly, the sulfur in the leadite can facilitate pitting corrosion resulting in circumferential breaks on the spigot end of the pipe near the leadite joint. The failure rate in the industry for leadite joint pipe is significantly higher than for lead joint pipe even though the pipe may not be as old.

Montebello and the Panama-Pacific Exposition 1915


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Finishing up documenting a Water Board Minutes of Meetings Journal, I came across a couple of interesting tidbits concerning the connection between Baltimore and San Francisco. In 2015 we both celebrated a 100 year anniversary. Them celebrating the 1915 World’s Fair and us the building and opening of the Montebello Filtration Plant. The connection being this – February 11, 1915 It was resolved by the Water Board to send the Filtration and Dam models to the Panama-Pacific Exposition. According to the model itself, it was completed in December, 1914.

Here is a lantern slide copy of the model. If you visited Montebello during our 100th anniversary and took a tour, you would have saw the actual model.

The lighting in the hallway is terrible with all the reflections. It was too dark with the lights out and too reflective with a flash.

Here is the nameplate data on the model.

Along with this one. I did a search for information on this company but could not find much. And something else I could not find is – where is the model of Loch Raven?

Howell’s did a pretty good job replicating the filtration plant.

The plant as it looked in the 1920s.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’d like to put little people in here…and maybe Godzilla!!

Showing what the waste lake looked like.

And the detail of the outfall structure.

The waste lake dam and outfall structure being built. Notice the date – October 1914. This means that the model was built conceptually, like an artist’s rendition of something before it is there.

Of course, one research item always leads to more.

In 1884 models of the substructures were built and placed in each gatehouse, Loch Raven and Lake Montebello, to give visitors a better understanding as to how each works. (What happened to them?)
February 6, 1893 the Water Board resolved to send a display to the Columbian Exposition. This was 21 years before the Howell Microcosms were built. so what did they send?
November 18, 1935 letter from M.P. McNulty, he has just completed creating a model of the Loch Raven dams and inquires as to the dates the real dams were built. Small replies that the lower dam was built between 1875 and 1881 by Fenton and Jones, Contractor. The upper dam was constructed by King-Ganey starting in 1912 and finished in 1914 and then raised between 1920 to 1922 by Whiting-Turner. Attached to the letter was a newspaper clipping which shows a picture of the model. (This clipping is at the City Archives)
December 31, 1952 letter from William Eichbaum Scale Models informing Hopkins that they will build a new, Montebello Plant model in the existing case for $1,000.00. This was not done.
And for what appears to be a wonderful book – San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 by Laura Ackley



Willow Grove at Cromwell Valley


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Nice day for a walk in the park. Let it snow!

The nature center is decorated, so why not the Little House?

Bells, bows and garland, from us to you.

While Kathy is decorating the door, I enjoy the cold view through the window.

The barn in B/W. Thanks God for the snow! It lets us be grateful for the sunny days.

Mathew Brady Photo Help


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While going through some old books in Kathy’s basement, I came across this card. Can anyone help me identify who this is? 

I cannot read the name on the left, but underneath it appears to say “Major General”. On the right side it may say “3rd Army ? and underneath possibly Army of (the) Potomac. 

Here is the reverse side of the card. I searched as much as I could using key words at different Official Brady sites but came up empty. Thanks.

The Permanent Gunpowder Water Supply


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Started planning back in 1854. Elevation of 160’ would supply seven-eighths of population (according to contour lines). Supplying others outside that elevation would be a matter of mechanical detail (pumping stations). The need to keep Lake Roland and the Gunpowder as two distinct and separate supplies, as Lake Roland becomes muddied during rainy season (this was why Druid Lake was constructed). It was first suggested to tap the river as far up as the Warren Factory but concurred by a host of engineers that the proper volume of water could not be obtained by damming at any point above Raven’s Rock and most agreed to a point further downstream about where Mr. Martin has located it. The dam will be erected on the Gunpowder river, at a point admirably adapted for the purpose, a short distance above Mine Bank Run, and the lake thus formed, will extend up the river as far as Meredith’s Ford Bridge at the Dulaney Valley Turnpike, where the pump house connected with the ‘Temporary Supply’ is now located…will flow by natural gravity through a twelve foot pipe to a lake at Montebello, between Hillen and Harford roads, located in a natural basin formed by one of the tributaries of Herring Run (Tiffany Run). The lake will have a water area of about eighty acres and a storage capacity of 700,000,000 gallons. The twelve foot pipe (conduit) will continue to a point on the Harford road opposite Homestead, whence pipes will be laid to connect with the city pipe system at North Boundary Ave. and Washington St. Lake Clifton.

A drawing of the Loch Raven Gate House a couple years after completion, for the engineer’s files.

The Gate House and how it looked in the 1920s.

An interior, cut away view.

The influent drain chamber to the yet to be built Gate House.

Looking over the construction of the dam, towards the east wall.

A recent view of the discharge conduit, below the dam. As shown in third photo above.

Another drawing of the Gate House structure. Where it says Vault Record would be facing the road.

Recent photo from the road, after Gate House was removed, showning vaults and valves.

This photo has me baffled. It is showing two 12′ conduits, whereas all the drawings only show one. On the left you can see where the laborers are building the brick lined conduit. On the right, nothing going on. Wondering if it was built in error or was it for a bypass as the dam was being built?

Drawing of the east wall.

1880s photo of building dam, looking east.

Recent photo looking east. Looking close you can see where the stone work stops and cement starts. In the 1970s they put a parallel pipeline in and cut right thru the wall.

This is an early, beginning of construction photo. Stone excavation looking west. Interesting on zooming in – under the roadway guardrail is a tunnel opening that looks like…

…the top left of these drawings. 

The drawing for Shanghai Run.

A 1920s photograph.

A recent photo of the opening to Shanghai Run. Looking over the wall towards the woods, there is no opening??

City workers lounging and the job is almost completed.


Jackson C Gott – Architect


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I was asked the other day if I knew who the architect of the Clifton Gate House was? I could not find any information after a couple hours of research. Of course, an internet search took me to the Maryland Historical Trust, where it is noted the architect is unknown, so I decided to look through all the Engineers Annual Reports here in my office. I also looked through a lot of drawings.

I found this. Not for the gate house itself, but for the keepers cottage. In very faded print it names the architect for the cottage as Jackson C Gott.

More research revealed a couple interesting photos and prints concerning Gott. He designed two local buildings. The Maryland Penitentiary.

And the Eastern Pumping Station, which I talked about a few weeks ago. Here is a beautiful print I found at the St Croix website.

Below is the Keepers Cottage next to the Clifton Gate House. I do not have time to fix this glass plate negative, unfortunately.

There were two other ramshackle buildings near the gate house, put up by the water engineer to protect the valves, in a pit.

Two drawings of the water mains at the gate house.

Below shows the location of the venturi meter, added later.

Here is the plans for the building. No architect and it comes from the water engineers office. Curran, Martin and Kenly.

With all that said, looking at the three structures: Gate House, Pumping Station and Penitentiary, I would take a long shot guess and say that Jackson C. Gott designed the gate house. Most prints and photos are from the DPW collection except for the recent Pen photo and the EPS print, which is mine.

Thanksgiving Fog


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Wonderful weekend with Kathy’s family down the Eastern Shore.

Sunset on the farm.

Gail and John 4-wheeling.

Back again looking for fish.

Time for a hike before deer season starts. Molly trying to flush out some birds.

A hawk surrounded by crows.

Grey barn roof on blue sky.

Reflections on the pond.

Kathy’s reflection.

Reflecting, contemplating…

Winter Robins.

And then the fog rolled in.

Like a loose blanket.

The barn. Soft coating of ice on everything.

The lone tree fighting off the shroud.

Dirt road to the heart of the fog.

It started to retreat from the pines.

Sniper house. New addition to the farm.

Walking through here, the trees’ upper branches, bathed in sunlight, let go a rain storm of melted frost.

Under the tree, a real bird dog.

Fog and steam mixing together.

Thanks given to God for all this.