Baltimore, engineering, FILTRATION, fluoride, glass plate negatives, Gunpowder Falls, HISTORY, Loch Raven, Montebello, Public Works, water history, writing
My WordPress Dashboard tells me that this is my 200th blog post. So, since my blog is called Water and Me, maybe I should write something about water? Trying to think of something profound or water history worthy! I know – Don’t Drink The Water!!!
In 2006 I started writing about water history, doing research and then eventually writing a small book, mostly on one of the water tunnels that supplies water to the Montebello Filters. Here is the Lantern Slide I saved from the dumpster, that started it all:
This is what I had to say about it in my book: “While working with one of the lantern slides, 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 Falls 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.” And I have been investigating water history ever since. Ten men were killed in this explosion and it was just a blurb in a report!
After years of refining my skills at research, I came across so much more information on this explosion. It is amazing what you can find these days on the internet. I found this photo and purchased it from the Baltimore Sun.
It shows the ten dead African American miners being hauled out. My research has taken me to draw the conclusion that this was no accident. That because of the Union troubles going on back then (Fighting between Unions for membership), this was a case of murder.
Sometimes historical research is not pleasant. Just as much as present day research can be unsettling. Like my comment above to not drink the water. I don’t drink it because of the research I have done concerning the fluoridation of the water system. But, I will save that for another post…
Mike Lane said:
Sad photo. I really enjoy your blog/posts!
Ronald Parks said:
Thanks. And yes it is. That was one of three I bought. Most interesting was the microfilm I obtained from the National Archives. They painted a different picture than what the engineers reports did.
Riveting! That should be in an exhibit at the NMAAHC !
I started following your blog because I became interested in the sewage system in Baltimore that I learned about by researching my book about my father, Eddie, who was born in Baltimore way back when. I figured your blog could give me a better sense of that part of Baltimore history. Do you know I never thought about African-American men working in the tunnels back then and I had never heard of this explosion. Story buried. You reminded me of a story my mom told me of a dam burst here in Los Angeles in about 1933. A whole Native American Indian Village was wiped out and mom said it received very little mention and we never hear about it today. You can learn about the dam but not the Indians that were lost. Thanks for all the research you are doing.
Ronald Parks said:
On a side note about the explosion, only the African American miners were killed because the engineer’s thought it would be a good idea to separate them from the other miners, with the excuse of “Let’s have a competition.” That was managements’ solution to the Union troubles. I found two articles about major dam breaks – one from 1933 in Colorado and one from 1928 in L.A. In neither case was it mentioned about an Indian Village being destroyed. When time is available I want to research these more. Thanks.
What an interesting story. It seems well worth the research. In the meantime, congratulations on your 200th post!
Ronald Parks said: