Since working for the City Water Department, I can only remember three times that we have used the Susquehanna River as a source of supply during a drought. I know it was used when it was first built in 1966. The first time I saw the water from the Susquehanna being dumped into our waste lake, I became fascinated with the river. A couple years ago I started documenting the Susquehanna through photographs (Another story, another time)
The history of the river and its role in supplying Baltimore with water starts in 1919 when an electrical engineer from Pennsylvania Power suggested to the consulting engineers, that they could build a tunnel, 32 miles in length from the Susquehanna to Loch Raven Reservoir, to a new dam there with hydro-electric capabilities. His plan was referred to as the Keilholtz Scheme. The consultants brushed him off.
Between 1926 and 1928 the Conowingo Dam was built. In the 1950s it was thought about once again to use the Susquehanna as a water supply, so in 1960 a tunnel was started. It was referred to as the “Big Inch” as it was 108 inches in diameter. Instead of going to Loch Raven, it was built to connect the Montebello Plant, in Baltimore, with the Susquehanna. A total of 38 miles. It was completed in 1966, just in time for the drought.
The photos above show the building of the coffer dam, in the Susquehanna, to hold back the water as they build the intake structure. and a photo of the interior of the tunnel.
It is a typical mill on a typical creek in Maryland. Maryland had many of these years ago. This one still stands and I have been to it many times to take photographs. When I look through my camera and put it into focus, I focus on more than just the building. I focus on the history of this building. For me, it is not a matter of taking a lot of pictures then rushing home to hurry up and put them on Facebook. (Then keep checking FB every 10 minutes to see who commented. Yes – guilty!) I see something that I’m grateful to be able to see.
Back in Baltimore’s water history, between 1910-1930, there were many consultants and engineers hired to help the City find new sources of water. One of the recommendations was to build a dam, at what is called the ‘Rocks’ on Deer Creek, right where the Ma & Pa train tracks were. The dam would have a crest elevation of 540′. The top of the Eden Mill, pictured above, is at 535′ which means that the mill would have ended up under water and people from 1940 on would not have been able to see it.
So, the next time you take a picture of an older building, dam, bridge, etc., think of its history and not how fast you can upload to FB!!
Just to go off track a little bit here, as far as Baltimore’s Water Supply history goes, I was just wondering if I could get some clarification on Copyrights? I really don’t understand these laws. It is of my own opinion that everything that has to do with history should be free to the public. I know there are certain cost involved with printing and reproduction and even research, BUT, who the hell owns the photographs and the words associated with them??
Case in point: I am revising my water history book by adding more photographs and trying to make it more ‘reader friendly’, getting rid of repetitious comments and adding an index. All the photographs that I have used come from glass plate negatives, lantern slides or the actual photographs that are stored here. While reading through my book I found some areas that could use a couple of pics to liven up the paragraphs but found I lacked those photos. Some research pointed me in the direction of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and The Tribune. The Tribune is now the keeper of the Baltimore Sun photo collection. Both of these are charging me anywhere from $10 to $40 for reprints, although the Tribune sold me the ‘originals’ for $15. Each want upwards of $150 for permission to use the photos in a book, depending on the print run. I asked the guy at the library what ever happened to the ‘Free’ in Enoch Pratt Free Library??
The library had received, in earlier years, copies of all the City of Baltimore’s Annual Reports, which included photographs. These photos were taken by either a City photographer or one hired by the contractor doing the construction. They are called ‘Progress Photographs.’ As far as the SunPapers goes, well they would send reporters who would come out to the plant with a photographer to cover newsworthy events. Like the tunnel explosion of 1938 where ten miners were killed (Although the Sun really fell on that one. Most pics and stories were done by the Washington Post, to whom I had to pay $3 for a mimeographed copy of the stories) They came onto the property, took pictures of the property, naming city workers and saying what happened.
Who really owns all this and why do they charge for reproducing the photos in a book? As far as print run, I can not tell them how many will be printed. I print my books thru Publish on Demand. As far as making money off of it – No!
So as not to cause any legal BS, I found this pic of an 1848 Fountain in Baltimore. Here is the link: http://www.mdhs.org/digitalimage/marsh-market-fountain-baltimore-street-0
Mayor Calhoun, the City’s first mayor, insisted in 1803 that something be done with the water situation. The City Council appoints a commission, made up of twelve commissioners, to “Collect the springs at the head of Carroll’s Run and to conduct the water into the community by pipes.” The ‘main’ pipes being laid were of wood (hemlock logs) construction about eight feet long with a twelve inch outside diameter and having bores ranging from one and a half inches to four inches, inside diameter. One end of the log had been tapered to a spigot, and in the other end, a bell was hollowed out. The ‘service’ pipes being laid were of cedar log construction about six feet long, of six inch outside diameter and having bore of about one inch, inside diameter. The residents, whose property these pipe were to be laid, opposed to this plan and stopped the City from doing so.
In 1804 the City started purchasing cast iron pipe from England. By 1829 13 miles of pipe were laid in the city. Half of which were wooden. This pipe, which is on display at the Montebello Filtration plant was dug up at Pratt and Paca streets some years ago. The top photo shows the build up of lime which was added to the water after the 1880 construction of the gatehouse at Montebello.
January 15, 1830 Report of the Water Committee to the City Council of Baltimore. This report was the result of the joint session of 1829, to enquire “…the best mode of furnishing every part of the City, in the most ample manner with a never failing supply of pure, clear and wholesome water…” Report starts with a history on the aqueducts of Carthage, Rome, London, etc., noting the inadequate supply given by the ‘Water Company’, “Charged with the important duty of pointing out to the City Council the best method of supplying the City with [water], the committee, aided by that skilful engineer and excellent citizen, Capt. Louis Brantz, who politely and patriotically tendered his services free of compensation, proceeded to the examination of the three streams, from one of which it was evident, the desired supply must be drawn.” The Gwynn’s Falls was recommended. The report concludes with a resolution proposed to both branches of the City Council. Note inserted into report suggests that this report was sold for $2 to a commissioner in 1947 and ended up in the water department in 1952. Purchased again for $4.00
Before Baltimore started on its quest for pure and wholesome drinking water, we need to look at a brief history of water treatment itself. This, I believe, was best documented in Joseph Ellms 1917 book Water Purification. He starts off by describing the Ancient Systems of Water Supply as such:
Among primitive peoples the question of water supply was never of pressing importance, except in arid and semi-arid regions…springs were sought for, wells were dug, and cisterns constructed in order that a supply of water might at all times be available. Wells of great antiquity may be found in Egypt (Joseph’s well was 297 feet deep in solid rock) and India. The Chinese were familiar with the driving of artesian wells. Domestic filters of unglazed earthenware or of sandstone were known to have been used by ancient Egyptians and by the Japanese…siphoning water from one vessel to another through porous material was well known to the ancients. As populations became more dense…the need for larger volumes of water…became urgent. The ancient water tanks of Aden, in Arabia, collected surface waters from the gorges of a volcanic crater…example of an impounding reservoir…may have been built by the Persians as early as 600 B.C. Probably no more elaborate system of public water supply was provided for any ancient city than that of Rome…water conveyed by aqueducts. These were built between 321 B.C. and 305 A.D. At the time of the fall of Rome…many were destroyed or fell to disease. The Moors in Spain during the ninth century constructed some important works, also rebuilding the older Roman works. London was first supplied in small quantities with spring water conducted through lead pipes and masonry conduits. In 1582 a pump was erected on London Bridge to take water from the River Thames and to deliver it through the lead pipes. The growth and development of water works plants in reality dates from the eighteenth century…not until the latter half of the nineteenth century was very rapid progress made.
Mr Ellms then notes four epochs concerning water purification within the United States: First was James P. Kirkwood’s report on the “Filtration of River Waters” in 1866. Second was the work of the Massachusetts’s State Board of Health in 1887. Third was experimentation on turbid waters starting with Louisville, Kentucky in 1896 and the fourth being from 1908 when the disinfection of the water, on an experimental basis, with hypochlorite of lime, started in Chicago. This method became widespread over the next five years. Meanwhile, experimentation in both Europe and the US continued; using chlorine, ozone and ultra-violet light.
When I first started scanning Lantern slides and glass plate negatives, I played around with my new scanner software and saw that I could add color to old photos. As I’ve been going through and cleaning out some old files, I came across the above pictures. When I first colored them I thought it was pretty neat that this could be done, now I’m not too sure if it should be? I really like the old B&W movies from when I was a child. When they started to colorize them, I thought, How odd is that? What do you think? The colors that I used were based on the old lithograph colors used in reports, to match those and not so much as what the colors should really be.
April 16, 1957 – Letter: Very unusual letter written to the Bureau of Water Supply from a John M. Noon:
Without [asservity] possibly ‘asperity’, animosity or acrimony, or reservation, I am writing you again about the Prudence and Elmtree site of reservoir…the work of the world is governed by cold hard facts…these men worked in very bad weather…curtailment of work now…I am of the belief the work will continue, not because of the Governor or the Mayor’s efforts to keep Maryland beautiful, but in spite of this fact.
I would be in your office now…in my 70th year…unmarried and pensioned.
Also I believe with Tolstoy, the Russian socialist and writer, that time rectifies evil and resistance is useless, because truth is inexorable and governed by laws of nature and conditions create problems that men must solve for his survival, not to mention, salvation. Christianity may have helped but it is not too much in evidence, as all the old evils still persist. If this work is finished, I must point out the four open holes…filled with water from the rains…children 3-16 roam this area and are endangered by this fact, be it accident or design, they are a menace…never ending brush fires. Fire apparatus are denied access…an accident could be disastrous, as all these war housing units have not the usual rubber insulation on the wiring.
I am firmly convinced all the travail in this region stems from the same source, the attitude of the officials toward the area as being the jungles populated by backward hill people and “dumb pollocks”. They have their faults but neither makes it a practice to deny their children the right to a happy childhood, to fortified against the vicissitudes of existence when they must be self sustaining. These hill people are not particularly friendly to anyone, even their benefactors, or themselves…the parents are not at the moment, the concern, but to practically disenfranchise the youngsters to the point they will eventually become public charges or inmates of mental hospitals because of harassment, and neglect makes bad economics, if nothing else.
Of course it is the law of the pack rat to rag the stranger. All the foreign born coming here at the turn of the century suffered this ignominy – – and one “bloody blooming Finny” son of a bitch who was with Kipling in Sudan in the 80s as linguist-interpreter, who had an American born son in 1888, who can get up on his one good leg and “give them hell” and it wasn’t Harrigan, it was me.