Continuing with documenting and archiving, I found a collection of small posters concerning Public Works. I believe these were given out at the DPW Museum in Baltimore back in the 1980s during the time it was open. There are some missing and I hope to be able to find them, to complete the collection. Here are issues #1,3,4,6 and 7. #1 has some misinformation. The Roland Tower was completed in 1905 according to Annual Reports. Not sure what the word exhaneous, which is handwritten on the poster, means?
Over the years there have been many attempts at posters, exhibits, newsletters etc. I wish they would start doing more of the history in a poster like the above or a new newsletter… The City attempted to try a new format of the Annual Report, but it is inconsistent and sporadic at best.
A couple weeks ago I was drawn into a discussion concerning the Balancing Reservoir adjacent to Cromwell Valley Park. I say adjacent because it is City property, in Baltimore County, part of the City’s watershed. This past weekend was the first chance that Kathy and I had to take a hike through CVP and this is what greeted us:
Now I understand the reason for the poem. What idiots! I have never understood graffiti. Some that are murals are nice, but this makes no sense to me. And no, I don’t believe in that sort of “Freedom of Expression”
What does this have to do with my Post Title and opening statement? The discussion I had was with City Watershed personnel, the County, the Park and the volunteers at CVP. The area has been nicely cleared around this structure and throughout the reservoir. Unfortunately by clearing it out, it made it more accessible to more people and more people means more risk of vandalism. The discussion, both pros and cons, concerned restoring the site. Pros – historical water history. Cons – disruption to the wildlife and native plants.
From the spillway we walked over to the dam. This dam actually has a concrete apron that extends partially down the slope towards the surge shaft. It has been pretty much cleared out, to the bird watchers and rangers dismay.
My take on all this? Originally I thought it would be great to restore the complete balancing reservoir to its original construction, but I’m not so sure now. It would be nice to clear the concrete apron around the surge shaft and the concrete spillway. Not sure it would be worth clearing the dam face. Too many animals and birds in that area. And as the poem states, “volunteers…in their older years…” Who will maintain it 20 years from now? The City won’t and they haven’t. The place is only historical in the minds of people who appreciate their water source. Most people that turn on their faucets could care less about the history of how it gets there!
More from the Loose Ends Never Ends files. I have about 500 more negatives to scan in this one collection. Just finished up more of the Liberty Dam and adjacent bridges. I must confess, I have never really done a lot of research concerning these bridges. Over the years I have found hundreds of photographs/negatives, and only found a few of them interesting; like Liberty Lumber, the Indian grave marker and the dam itself. Although I really like climbing on and under bridges, I never gave these photos much thought. Looking at Google Maps, it is hard to place the original/present location of these bridges. I’m just not familiar with the area’s history. Most are from the early 1950s.
The next 500+ negatives to document are of building the Susquehanna Tunnel.
There were another 120 negatives in the Liberty Dam collection. I scanned all of those. The file drawer also contained about 250 negatives, building the Ashburton Filtration Plant. Fortunately I had previously scanned these from photo albums – all but 22 that were missing from those albums. I hope when and if they get someone to take my place doing this archiving, they will be able to put all like albums/negatives/photos together in proper groups. I am not sure I will have the time. As it has been, I just scanned and documented them as I pulled them from shelves, dusted them off, documented and then packed them back up for storage.
Meanwhile, upstream a ways, the intake structure is almost done. A couple things about this photo – how tall the structure is and how deep the water will be at this point of the reservoir. Also, I’m not sure why they didn’t grub, remove the plant growth that will eventually be underwater?
Almost done. I have posted on another blog (or Facebook) the finished dam and that engineers were wagering on when the reservoir would fill and the dam would crest? The Liberty Reservoir reached the crest point of four hundred and twenty feet on February 6, 1956, approximately nineteen months after the filling of the reservoir began on July 22, 1954
Loose Ends Never End sounds like some spiritual/metaphysical quote (It does come from the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9). But in my case it is more about my trying to tie up some loose ends before I retire. Just when I think I’m about done documenting and scanning the archives – Poof!! More just appear out of nowhere. Well actually I found a bunch more under my work bench. Three index drawers full of 3-1/2″ x 5″ photographic negatives. At first I thought there was only 500 or so. There are over 1,500 of them! I started scanning them yesterday and got about 100 done. Below is a sampling of those.
Just glancing through the first couple hundred, it appears these are from the building of the Liberty Dam, starting in 1952. This photo shows a happy foreman on top of the intake structure as it is being built.
Ooopps! Not looking too happy now. There were a lot of accidents on the job site in 1952. Most notably a crane fell, crushing one of the workers. There are actually a few photos in this group of that, but I am not posting those. One shows the worker’s head crushed under the I-beam. I cannot believe someone took that photo.
The intake structure rising from the river.
I have been using an Epson 4990 scanner for a few years now. It works pretty good, except the software that came with it is a little off. By that I mean, if I scan a photo negative, it automatically turns it into a positive in a file, but it is too dark and takes a lot of work in the Photoshop Elements software. So I scan it as a positive, which it converts to a negative. Then in PE I invert it and hit auto levels and it looks just right. Some of course will never look right, only because of what the photographer did when taking the photo.
I guess taking care of these loose ends will give me something to do for a while!
On April 30, 1804, the Baltimore Water Company, a private company, was formed. Their first task is to furnish water to a portion of Baltimore City. It now became necessary to secure a site for the erection of the works, and in 1806 a purchase was made of a lot now occupied by the office of the Northern Central railroad, on Calvert street. The works, which were erected under direction of Mr. John Davis, consisted of a wheel and pumps, which forced the water into a reservoir on the southwest corner of Cathedral and Franklin streets. The water was obtained through a common mill race from what was known as Keller’s Dam, which supplied Salisbury Mill, the site of which was near the site of the old Belvedere bridge. (Baltimore History by Clayton Hall).
Photo of drawing from MdHS. The City does not reimburse me for digital copies, these start at about $50 each, so MdHS let me photograph them.
From John Davis’ Autobiography; Maryland Historical Society Magazine Volume xxx, 1935: “I at once entered into an Engagement, with Mr. Latrobe, and the City, Corporate authorities, to Superintend and aid therein, as Clerk of the works [in Philadelphia]. In the situation aboved named, I continued connected with Mr. Latrobe about three years, until sundry other engagements, required both the service and talents of Mr. Latrobe in other portions of the United States, more Especially at the Cross Cut Canal between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, and the water works in New Orleans. After this period, the entire direction and management and the Execution of the works, for watering the City, of Philadelphia, Devolved on me. In that capacity I continued until the Spring of 1805. In the autumn of 1804, I received an Invitation to proceed to the City of Baltimore, to give some advice and aid in an Examination that had been made in relation to the contemplated means as to the supplying that city with water. A company had been organized and a capital of 250,000 Dollars provided, A President and Managers, Chosen, water rights and water Power had been purchased, and various suggestions given as to the manner and plans to accomplish the object, and to appoint an Engineer, and Manager, to Execute the requisite works. I repaired to Baltimore, to impart such views, and advise such measures, as appeared to me proper, for the furtherance, of the object this company had in view. Under these circumstances and considerations I could not comply and entertain a New engagement. But these Baltimore Gentlemen made strong appeals and almost insisting that I should be Employed by them they likewise desired me to endeavor to propose or point out some way or means to relieve them of their difficulty and it was agreed to adjourn the meeting until the following evening and then to receive my views and see if I could suggest some manner or means to meet the Case. At the Meeting of the Board on the next evening, I submitted this proposition, That I would still attend to the business and continue to direct the Superintendence of the Philadelphia works, endeavor to select and appoint a competent person to take my situation and place and Impart to such person, every necessary Instruction, and information that would enable and render him capable to perform and attend to the duties that would be required in the water works at Phila until the managers of that concern were fully satisfied that my Successor was Qualified and efficient to the performance of the required duty and as soon as such assurance was by the watering Committee of Phila agreed to Then I was willing to accept of the proposition of the Gentlemen in Baltimore. These conditions was accordingly agreed to and strongly urging me to make all my arrangements as soon as the nature of the business would permit.” [Davis states that he has twenty year old Frederick Graff replace him in Phila. under B.H. Latrobe] “I received the cordial thanks and a kindly parting* dismissal from the managers of the water company, and Mr. Graff commenced his services on May 1st 1805 and he continued in the same situation of Superintendent of the Phila water works until his Death in 1848, a period of 43 years.” [A statue was erected to Graff at Fairmount Water works]. Davis goes on to talk about how two years later he went back to Phila to write a report with Graff for the recommendation of a new water works at Fair Mount.
*Interesting to note here, from the book Benjamin Henry Latrobe by Talbot Hamlin: September 24, 1805 Nicholas Roosevelt (friend and partner of Latrobe) had turned the water off for three hours, at about the time that a serious fire was burning in Philadelphia. Latrobe wrote Roosevelt in panic, “I hear the spread of the fire was owing to the withholding of the water. I hope this representation is not true.” The city was enraged; a mob led by the sheriff charged the water works, threw out Roosevelt and the men working under him, turned the whole works over to municipal operation replacing Davis with Graff. [Perception of events]
A photo I took a couple years ago of the Philadelphia water works.
“I entered into a new arrangement with the Baltimore water company, Their works being then in successful operation and not requiring all my time and attention, I was appointed President, of the Company, at a reduced compensation and devoting only such portion of my time as their services demanded. In this capacity, I resided and continued during the whole period that I lived in Baltimore and until I removed to the Country in Washington County, Md. I will now proceed to give a little diversified statement of some of the objects, engagements and employments in which I may say I was almost incessantly occupied; Say at the Susquehanna Canal, from Tide water unto peach Bottom; a distance of about 10 miles, pulling down and rebuilding the Locks, Both widening and Deepening the Canal and other improvements there occupying a period of about 2 years; Surveyed and Leveled and attended the Improvements of Gwynns Falls by a mill Race of about 3 miles, in length terminated, by the building in succession, 4 large Merchant Mills, each carrying 4 Pair of Millstones; aided, and assisted in the erecting, Large Cotton manufactory; and a large Merchant Mill on Jones Falls, 6 miles north of Baltimore, Superintended the erection, and other Improvements, a little South of Havre de Grasse, Leveled the water & aided in building a Large Mill on Elkridge about 15 Miles west of Balt., Leveled and surveyed several streams and Located many Cotton Manufactories and other improvements that was either designed or Executed by my Direction.”
Gwynn’s Falls improvements.
“There is one Improvement kept in fine order and is still a favorite spot and frequented by many persons, called the City Spring, situate on North Calvert Street city of Baltimore about 2 squares south [North] of the Battle Monument near Barnums Hotel.” [Also known as the Northern Fountain]
Print from DPW museum archives.
[Davis states that his crowning achievement was the sinking of a well at Fort McHenry in 1814]. “I must say that the success of this undertaking gave me some gratification, especially as it was stated by some Engineer’s impossible to be done But Major Bentelow still insisted on it that John Davis should pursue his own views, and the Exulting Major said to the Secretary of War. Did not I tell you, Genl. Armstrong that Mr. Davis would succeed and we would have good water at the Fort, uttered in his broken French language.” In 1813 the Board of City Commissioners, in conjunction with Mr. John Davis, examined the spring at the head of the Basin (known as Clopper’s Spring) and decided that it could be reclaimed and made to afford a copious supply of pure and wholesome water. August 19, 1934 Sun Paper Article in Scrapbook: Donation of drawings from first superintendent of Baltimore Water Works to Maryland Historical Society. Sketches were made by John Davis (1770-1864). 160 drawings depicting first water works. I did not see the drawing below from the article, but a similar one.
Drawing from MdHS
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!
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.
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.