Terrapin Park


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The last couple of times we visited this park, last summer, we were unable to hike the trails – too many people and too many cars in the parking lot. It was packed. I like that people and families go to the parks to enjoy themselves, I just don’t like it when large groups of people set up camp and stay all day – not allowing others to enjoy the park. It was so bad last summer, that the park service had to install Spot-o-Pots along the beach path. Here is our path:

It was a short hike. We just wanted to see and enjoy the Bay.

Along the Cross Island Trail, we stopped long enough to enjoy some of the beauty that is all around us.

Hitting the beach, our first view is of a ship going under the Bay Bridge. I don’t know how many times we travelled over that bridge and saw anywhere from 4 to 12 ships just parked on the other side. This is the first time we saw one actually heading to points north.

We always did want a home on the Eastern Shore!

The recent storms that we had, left a lot of debris up on the dunes. And some along the beach.

I have my doubts that this was washed up on shore, along with a cantaloupe a few yards away. 

Constantly shifting, in and out of the pond.

Along with all the debris and driftwood, were some casualties from the storms – like this poor little fellow.

And this guy.

And another.

The breakwater walls seem to have broken.


Waiting for its tenants. 

A few areas have eroded away along the beach. Nature just does her thing…


Corvair 95


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By no means am I any sort of Car Buff, but while walking through the woods on Saturday, Kathy and I came across this and it piqued my curiosity. 

It kind of looked like some sort of converted van. 

Getting closer I could see that it was a Corvair 95. Never heard of it.

A quick internet search and this is what it is. This version, sitting in the woods, is the 1962-1963 Rampside. It has both a side ramp and a regular truck tailgate.

The tailgate end of this vehicle sits higher than the front end. The engine is in the rear. 

The rampside is visible from this view, on the opposite side.

And here is what a running one looks like. These vehicles cost $2,212 new, but they weren’t well received. Only 2,046 were sold. A place in Minnesota is selling one for $5,500.

Swann Lake – Not the Ballet


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When I first started researching the water history of Baltimore, and I came across a map of Swann Lake, I just assumed that it was called Swann Lake because the Mayor at that time was Thomas Swann, who later went on to be the Governor of Maryland. 

Here is the man himself. In the journal I am presently transcribing, I came across this entry:

October 4, 1869: The Committee on Swann Lake submitted the following report: Having examined the minutes of the Board and the records of the office, with the view of ascertaining in what way and by what authority the Lake, so long called Lake Roland received the name of Swann Lake, would respectfully call the attention to the Board the following – That Mr. Charles Manning, Chief Engineer was asked to name the principal stream that supplies the Lake, by which with great propriety the Lake could be known. Under his direction the name of Lake Roland was placed over the door of the stop house and a map of Lake Roland was presented to the Water Board with the general and final report of the Chief Engineer on the completion of the Works. In this manner the lake became known to all our citizens, by a familiar and more appropriate local name. The Board of Water Commissioners, by resolution, posed at a regular meeting on December 26, 1861, approved and adopted what had been done in the premises…to be called Lake Roland. At some subsequent period the name on the door (Roland) was erased and Swann Lake inserted and a patch was made and placed on the map stating the same. In the opinion of the Committee, these changes and defacement were entirely unauthorized and would have been improper even if ordered by the Water Board. The Board has heretofore declared its opinion as to the impropriety of designating any of the public works by the name of an individual citizen, because of his connection with the City Government and your committee sees no reason why this Lake should be made an exception of. These views have long been entertained but have thought it best to defer presenting them until the present time, when by no possibility can it be supposed that you are in any way influenced by personal or political feeling. Ask that the Lake be referenced from this point forward as Lake Roland. Unanimously resolved.

So, one has to wonder – did a political adversary go and change the name from Roland to Swann over the door? And why would the Water Engineers continuously refer to the lake as Swann Lake? Every entry that I have summarized from the 1862-1869 journal notes “The work at Swann Lake…” or as such. Here is what the work at Swann Lake looked like. Even A. Hoen and Co. called it Swann.

Wikipedia has this to say about Thomas Swann – not too good a commentary!

Many believed once slavery was abolished in Maryland, African Americans would begin a mass emigration to a new state. As white soldiers returned from southern battlefields they came home to find that not only were their slaves gone but soil exhaustion was causing tobacco crops in southern Maryland to fail. With a growing number of disaffected white men, Thomas Swann embarked on a campaign of “Redemption” and “restoring to Maryland a white man’s government”. His strategy was built on the platform of entrenching white power and displacing independent African Americans. During this same time an oyster crisis in New England caused the oyster industry in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay to surge. Swann’s problem was that the Bay oyster trade was heavily African American. His solution; use government policy to push African Americans in the bay and replace them with, “White Labor, at reasonable rates wherever needed.” Even more egregious he enacted a law that encouraged white fisherman to harass black fisherman when he signed into law the states first ever “Oyster Code.” “And be it acted, that all owners and masters of canoes, boats, or vessels licensed under this article, being White Men, are hereby constituted officers of this state for the purpose of arresting and taking before any judge or Justice of the Peace, any persons who may be engaged in violating any provisions of this article. Furthermore, all such owners and masters are hereby vested with the power to summon pose comitatus to aid in such arrest.” Even more egregious, any property seized during an “Oyster Code” violation was auctioned off, with one quarter of the proceeds going to the white man who initiated the arrest.

Wow and as Confederate Monuments have been removed in Baltimore, I guess no one thought to remove the entrance of Druid Lake at Swan Drive that has his name emblazoned across the top of the arch!


Lake Chapman


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From the 1867 Journal of the Water Board minutes comes the following: December 30, 1867: The Committee on Lake Chapman having recommended a change of name for said lake, it was on motion resolved that the said lake be called “Druid Lake”. And that the Engineer be directed to erase the name Lake Chapman from any and all buildings, structures, charts or drawings, on or in which name now appears and to substitute therefore the same as above, “Druid Lake”.
I wonder who ex. Mayor Chapman pissed off? I could not find anything in the Maryland State Archives blog that would warrant such drastic actions. As a side note – transcribing script gives me a headache. I’m only at page 279 of 462!

Trash and Civic Pride


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Here we have Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. with a kid in a trash can. School #98 Samuel Morse. Civic pride.

A parade was even held that year – 1951

Jump forward to 1987 and the mayor back then came up with a plan to give everyone new trash cans. Thirty years later, the new mayor did the same thing, at a cost of $10,000,000.00! I wonder what happened to the ones of 1987??

And finally, Ethel Ennis showing her pride by playing TrashBall!



History Hike Part 2


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Now the good stuff! In yesterday’s post I shared about our hike along the Little Gunpowder Falls, from Jerusalem Mill to the old iron bridge at Franklinville. On the way we stopped and explored an abandoned mill race and structure that appeared to be for valving or damming up the water flow. Back at my office on Monday I found a report from 1933 concerning the mill and property.

Here is a photograph of the mill that use to be there:

The 1933 report gives this description of the mill – Wm. Barton Mill in Franklinville, Little Gunpowder Falls. Several mill buildings used for the manufacturing of cotton duck. Mill race and dam have been broken thru since about 1926. Mill was built in 1883. All manufacturing equipment has been removed except for turbine. Barton purchased property from Mt. Vernon-Woodberry Mills on August 5, 1930. Information is sketchy on ownership. 1899 sold to Mt. Vernon-Woodberry Mills, yet they sold it twice. Once to Oak Tire and Rubber in 1925 and to Barton, but notes ownership to Marvin Merryman in 1929. No info on size of mill pond since dam was broken through. Supplementary water reservoir of 20,000 gallons in center of square in tenement section to furnish water for automatic sprinkler system in mills. Dam, made of timber, was about 800’ from mill. There was a water wheel at one time, with 140hp capacity.
Buildings at mill included: the main mill, waste house, store house, boiler house, and wheel house. There were also 3, two family two story houses on property. And more, according to tax records at Baltimore county. Records mention a mill adjacent to this one, to the north, known as Jericho mill. no traces of mill could be found.
Along with the report is this plat which shows the layout of the buildings:


And this plat:


As stated before, we climbed down into the mill race where we saw holes in the structure. I told Kathy I believed them to be supports to hold valves or gates.

In the report was this photo. The center part of this structure on the left is missing, along with the dam itself on the right.

Below is a photograph of the area today, where the mill use to be. A sign on the fence says it is managed by Carnegie Express Construction Managers, Builders and Developers:

What does this have to do with Baltimore’s Water Supply History?

Typhoid cases, which had decreased by the mid-1920s, would re-emerge by the early 1930s along with a long period of drought. In 1932, the City Government hires consultants to review the status of its water supply. These consultants would form a board of engineers known as The Advisory Engineers on Water Supply. The engineers were Messrs. John H. Gregory, Gustav J. Requardt and Abel Wolman9. On December 19, 1934, the Advisory Engineers released their report:
1) Immediate construction of a new Gunpowder Falls Montebello Tunnel.
2) Immediately following the completion of the new Gunpowder Falls – Montebello Tunnel, the existing Loch Raven – Montebello Tunnel should be strengthened.
3) Conduct surveys, land purchases, sub-surface explorations and preparation of plans and specifications for the development of an additional water supply should be undertaken at once. (Areas of development looked at by the Board were the Patapsco River; the Little Gunpowder Falls, Winters Run and Deer Creek, and the Susquehanna River).

They were going to dam up the Little Gunpowder Falls and all the mills and property along the Falls would need to be bought (or taken). It was decided to go with Item #1 above.



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.