Photogravure – Copper Plates


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Doing some more packing of my office and here is another pile that needs documenting. I thought these were pretty neat looking when I found them about 10 years ago. I placed them in ziplocks to keep them from getting scratched and then put them away for another day. That day has come.

The three piles on the left are each about 5″ x 7″ x 7/8″ thick. The smaller ones to the right vary.

Here is one removed from its sleeve and placed on shelf to be photographed. 

Same copper plate scanned with color settings at 300dpi. Trying to be careful not to scratch the glass surface of the scanner.

Kind of shabby looking, so I scanned it in Black and White.

Better, but not as good as the original below. This one is an electronic copy from a glass plate negative I scanned back in 2007. In 1913 (I know, it looks like 1915 but it is not) the contractors performed a pressure test on the 10′ conduit from the new dam at Loch Raven to the old dam. 

Tried another one. Color scan first, but at 720 dpi. Pretty bad looking. 

Now in b&W.

Still no good. I had trouble finding a good copy of this. It was not in the glass plate negative groups and not to mention the difficulty of looking for a reverse image. Looked in the lantern slides and there it was.

There is a nice video at this link which shows the Photogravure Process. Glad we have progressed into the digital art stage!


An August Weekend In Baltimore


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Living in Baltimore most of my life, there are but a few things that I have never done while living here: Visited the Peabody Library, climbed to the top of the Washington Monument and gone to the downtown Farmers Market. So, time to check those off my “To-Do” list.

First stop on Saturday morning was the Peabody. They are only opened a few hours on Saturday. 10a-1p. 

Before going in we took a shot of the Washington Monument. A lot of these photos Kathy took.

Heading towards the library.

What a wonderful sight!

All these books! Old books!

And the architecture is amazing.

Of course, since you are not allowed to roam around the upper shelves, the next best thing to do is to look through the card catalogue. My name is there – but no listing of my books!

Kathy also has a listing.

After a while of gazing in amazement at the library, we decided to roam around other parts of the building. The Peabody Music School is here also.

Looking up from the bottom…

And then down from the top. Helter Skelter.

Kathy took this next photo. One of my favorites.

Up and down the halls. I was surprised at all the areas we could venture to.

A history of one of many violin makers.

Random artwork.

Time to leave the Peabody and head outside. Looking at the Washington Monument I noticed that the gate was open! My heart started beating faster! I have always wanted to go in and climb to the top!

Yes! The steps are open! $6 is a small price to pay, to be able to go to the top! And I am off! (Kathy did not want to go, but she said she would take a photo of me looking out the window)

Holy crap! Am I going to make it??!!

Halfway there! Time to stop and catch my breath!!

I knew aliens built this thing! 

So close!

Wow! What a view. (I did take lots of pics, but seriously, you should try to make this trip yourself)!

Another view. I wonder how much longer this steeple will last?

Where’s Kathy? Oh, there she is!

And her photo of me, waving through the window! I tried to enhance but there was just too much sun glare.

One happy camper!

Another view of the monument.

And still another, as I REFLECT on my trip up the steps and catch my breath!

And Kathy’s reflections.

Worked up quite an appetite, so here is where we went. Great food. Highlandtown on Gough St.

That was all on Saturday. Sunday we headed to the Farmer’s Market.

A preacher preaching under the overpass.

Lots of food and art work.

Murals everywhere. I liked both of these. It looks like it says “Horny, Angry Man”?

Lots of fruits and veggies. 


No, I do not!

Nor these!

Time for breakfast. Crepes.

And a piece of art.

It was a great weekend in Baltimore. Thanks God and Kathy!!



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Here lately i have been so busy working on multiple houses, I lose track of time, to work on my blogs. Here are some random photos from over the last month or so.

At Kathy’s parents house, a bunch of turkeys were in the field.

I decided to go over to the deer blind (sniper tower), to see if I could get a better view. This guy was watching me.

Stopped at Terrapin Park one weekend. Spotted this guy along the path to the Bay.

On shore were some guys and dolls.

Molly not too happy about going swimming with me. Kathy asked if I have ever swam in the Chesapeake Bay before? I don’t think I have?

Went to Merriweather to see David Byrne. On stage, the opening act.

Walked around a bit. It has been about 32 years since I was last here. Saw Robert Palmer – Addicted to Love tour. Place looks different. Various sculptures around.

From a distance, I thought this was a statue of a football player.

Sun going down and time to head to our seats.

These next photos Kathy took of the band. I gave up long ago with my camera. I couldn’t get focused.

Another shot. Another song.

And the house that will soon be our home, thanks to the Culver’s.


Loch Raven and the Rain


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The never-ending rains are here so I decided to check out the water works and see what is going on. Montebello Lake has risen quite a bit. If the grounds crew does not cut all the way to the water line, the phragmites will once again encroach the banks.

A look in the gate house on the lake. This flow is normally about 11-13 mgd. Today it is at 21 mgd. And for those of you who do not know – no, this is not drinking water going to waste. The Montebello Lake is where the impurities from the treatment plant settle out along with the dissipation of the chlorine before it goes into Herring Run. 

On my way over to Kathy’s for some steamed crabs, she calls me and says I should check out Loch Raven before coming to her house, so I did. I parked behind Sander’s and walked over to where Mine Bank Run and the Gunpowder Falls meet. Wow!

It hasn’t been this high for a while. On Loch Raven Drive, the bridge over Mine Bank Run. This is the stream we were walking in the other day, towards Cromwell Park.

Heading up the Drive a little farther and looking back towards Cromwell Bridge Road.

Back to my car and headed to the 1881 dam. One of these days someone will fulfill their promise to me and let me in to photograph looking down into these chambers. Not holding my breath! The new, unused maintenance facility up in the background.

From the top of the dam, looking across – that is a lot of water.

I am amazed that this log is still here after all these years. I just want to jump up and down on it to get it the hell off the top of the dam! Damn log! Log jam at the dam.

Climbed down to the bottom of the dam, along the retaining wall. The water is lapping along the top of the wall.

Here we can see that the integrity of the wall is starting to give a little bit. The water is gurgling up through the wall on the left, which means there are holes in the wall. Overall, not bad for a wall that was built in the 1880s.

Looking across the Gunpowder to the opposite shore.

Then towards the dam itself. Remembering when Kathy and I were able to gingerly stroll across here, to get to the other side!

On Loch Raven Drive, looking towards the new dam.

If there is this much mud and silt from the small streams that feed the Gunpowder, can you imagine all the crap in the waters of the Susquehanna River! 444 miles of dirty water emptying into that river and then our Bay!

The water above the new dam is our drinking water. And even though this water looks pretty muddy and full of debris, once filtered at Montebello, it is still some of the best drinking water in the country. (Think I will get a raise for that promo! Ha!!)

Box of Blues


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This box has been sitting in my office for years now and as I slowly pack my office up, the box has been making its presence known more and more. This is one of those task that I didn’t want to undertake, but knew eventually I would have to. I’ve referred to it before as the Jigsaw Puzzle Box. It contains a lot of broken glass plate negatives.

They were originally laying one on top another. No boxes or protective sleeves. I sat them on their side to try to stop some of the damage. These plates are heavy and the weight of being stacked is enough to crush themselves.

So let’s get started on cleaning and scanning. I pulled out the more intact ones first, but already there was a problem – not only were most of these suffering from severe silvering, from being improperly stored, this one was yellow (Under or over exposed when taken maybe?)

I scanned it anyway because there is something about this photo – The second Loch Raven Dam being built, showing an arched walkway through the base of the dam. A couple years ago I was told that I would be able to go on an inspection tour of the inside of the dam – I guess they forgot me…

A couple more intact plates, not found in previous collections of building the 1915 dam. I like this one, below, looking downstream of the Gunpowder River. A locomotive riding the spur track in the distance and a person on the trestle.

A view looking upstream from the cofferdam. 

Although there was a lot of silvering, after some work in Photoshop Elements, I was fortunate enough to make them worth saving. Another view downstream. The old 1880s gatehouse in background. Notice the wood pedestal for the valve operator. 

I wish I would have found this one years ago. This photo is signed by the engineer, Walter Lee and the plate itself is signed by the photographer – Waldeck.

With this next one, the puzzle pieces start falling apart. The photographer would take photographs and drawings, mount them on a board and then photograph the photographs. Thank God for the digital age!

Inside the photographers studio – more like an onsite shed at the construction site – 1920s.

Some of the shed photo plates were not only broken, but were over exposed.

Using my software I was able to enhance the above photo enough, using the ‘Equalize’ button, to bring out the drawing. In this case it is the Balancing Reservoir at Cromwell Park.

Next up more photos being photographed. Two of my favorites on this plate – The original photo of the town of Warren before flooding (A lot of historical societies use this photo and don’t give credit to the City for using it. I guess because it has been used so many times in various newsletters and publications, they consider it public domain) And I like the Paper Mill Bridge with the covered bridge underneath. 

This next one threw me for a loop! A Cathedral to Water? Not sure what this is of?

I finally hit the bottom of the box, nothing but pieces. Some large ones and then many small pieces.

I scanned them just in case some day, some one can use modern technology to put the pieces together, where they belong! (I know, the tech exists, maybe something for someone to do later!)

So I am wrapping up the history and placing in it storage. Hopefully it will be around in 100 more years. Who knows. I have done about as much as I could with what I have been given.


Back River 100+ Years


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I went to the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant the other day. I was looking for some surplus bricks and also to turn in a security gate swipe card that was given to me many years ago. Since I had not been there in a few years, I thought I would give myself a tour. It sure has changed with all the new construction. A lot of the older buildings are gone, replaced by new Clean Water Regulations. Last I heard it was over a billion dollars in upgrades!

Here is an aerial view of the plant. Red numbers correspond to the photographs. I tried to match up some of the older photos I have with what remains, not yet demolished.

This next drawing (thanks engineering) labels the buildings.

Here is a photo of just outside the gate, when the plant was first built, showing homes for sale. I had previously posted another blog back in March 2016 of the Eastern Ave entrance.

And here is an older aerial, showing a race track on the property.

Once through the gate and past the admin building on the right was this building. (#1) This was where I first started collecting and documenting the water and sewerage archives.

This is what is there now.

Across from here was a really smelly tank (#2). The drawing calls them the Primary Clarifiers.

Around the corner use to be this.

This is all that is left of the Trickling Filters.

The Waste Pickle Liquor Facility!?

A close up view (#4)

The sludge Storage lagoon, according to the drawing. A worker there said they were sludge storage tanks that are no longer being used.

Let’s see what is up top (#5). It is covered over.

I tried to do some research in the one building by the smokestack years ago. I even volunteered to clean the mess up and document everything, but after a few years of asking and getting no response, I said forget it. There are a lot of the early sewer contracts on the 3rd floor. (#6)

The building to the left was the Vacuum Filter Building as shown below from the 1930s. 

Next was a real lagoon of sorts. Just another dumping ground. (#7)


Then onto this – the Elutriation Tanks (can’t pronounce it, so I can’t explain it!!) It didn’t smell as bad as the first tank though.

I ran into a worker and asked where does all this flow into the river at, so he showed me. (#9) All the years of coming down here, this was the first time I saw this.

The sewage gently cascading down the steps to an opening that dumps into the river (as if sewerage can be called “gently cascading”!)

Past the trees and out into the river. (#10)

If anyone wants to fish near here, believe me, you don’t want to.

Here is what was the plant effluent when the plant was first built. Wooden Pipes.

They moved this discharge point over a bit, replacing the wood with steel.

Here is the view from the side, of the new concrete and steel structure.

With a close up. There were quite a few osprey in the area.

Next was the filtration building. (#11)

And how the original one looked when it was first being built.

Getting ready to head out and saw these stairs! 

Ooops wait! Wrong photo (Although I did travel to Mexico and saw the ruins years ago) (#12)

Not sure what these were but it still has water flowing through it.

As can be seen on the above drawing there are a couple notations concerning Bethlehem Steel. With that plant closed down, I wonder where these pipe go and the purpose of the buildings?

Nice day at wastewater. PS – I never did find the bricks I was looking for. Ending up going to the Loading Dock and buying them!

Dundee Kayaking


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Up early on the 4th and headed out for our first kayak adventure of the year. A lot of busy-ness going on in Kathy and my life, so today was our first chance to get a little kayaking in. Being a holiday we thought it best to get out there early and glad we did.

The sand landing at Dundee Marina is small but easy to get in and out of. Ultimate Water Sports use to be here but now it is Eastern Watersports. The people running it said it is the same prices and types of equipment. We have our own but I was just checking.

What a beautiful day. Glad I wore sunscreen because it was hot out there. Every once in a while we would catch a nice breeze. The water was calm.

Quite a bit of wildlife here today. Glad Kathy is with me, to remind me of my past and to be grateful of my present – “From Heroin to Heron!” Yes indeedy! Although I had to laugh. Years ago in my active days down the Lombard Street Projects, I kept hearing the guys saying ‘Hair-ron’! At first I thought they were saying ‘Hey Ron’ How the hell did they know my name and that I was down there trying to cop??!! 

This little pier marks the entrance to a little cove. I think Kathy and I are the only ones that know about it. Never see anyone else in there.

It seems that recent storms have knocked over some trees, but that usually doesn’t stop us.

Nice little kayaking path.

And this is what surrounds you once inside. So peaceful and quiet.

I picked up this hitch-hiker in our little cove. Kathy came over and got him, to place him on a reed – hoping he will turn into a beautiful butterfly. Damn, looked like fish food to me! Our kayaks are getting a little beat up over the years, as we look for little waterways to explore.

Me, chasing that heron.

Up to the left of the heron was Mr. America himself. Happy Birthday America!

After about an hour and a half of open water, we headed to a shady spot.

Then we headed out again to follow the shoreline and found this poser.

Two hours for a first trip was enough. Headed back to the beach and it was getting crowded. I have never seen people picnicing at the landing before.

On the way home, coming out of the park (Part of Gunpowder State Park) there were quite a few DNR Police, diverting and stopping traffic. By 12:30 most of the parks were full and people were being turned away. Glad we go early. Topped the day off with some steamed crabs and corn on the cob.

Thanks God for another day clean and another adventure with Kathy!

Looking For A House


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With retirement not too far away, Kathy and I have been looking at houses the past couple of months. Some have been fairly nice, others would take too much work and still others have since been knocked down!

Of course, working for the Water Department for 37 years, why not live on watershed property or any other house owned by the City of Baltimore?

This first house was right here at the Montebello water plant. The only thing left to this house is the BBQ chimney.

Info on the house and its occupants.

Another house on the Montebello Grounds. I had actually met people who lived here. This too was knocked down.

Info on house. Nice house for a labor foreman.

And the final Montebello house.

Info on house. This is a duplicate of the Armstrong house, that the preservation people are holding up construction on a new chlorine building, but where were they when this house was razed? I guess a youth baseball field makes it ok to knock it down, but not a water process building??

Time to ride up to Loch Raven, to look at some houses:

Info on house.

This next one looks nice – also looks familiar.

Info on house.

Another nice one.

Another laborer’s house.

Moving up the Gunpowder River to check out some houses up near Prettyboy Reservoir.

A fixer upper with chickens.

This one looks like a scary place to raise kids.

Doesn’t appear to be a City employee, but still City property.

I doubt if Jimi lived here, but nice. I guess the owner was tired of people asking where the dam was so he put up a sign.

Info on house.

We leave the Gunpowder area and head back to the City, Roland Park. I like this one. A little skinny but nice. Wish the realtor would have posted some interior pics!

Property info. This guy resigned but is still living in the house.

We left there and headed back over near Montebello. Got a text from my agent saying that a house just came on the market over at Clifton!

Darn! Too late – turned over to the Park Board!

We now head west out of the city towards the Patapsco river. Avalon.

Not sure about that porch and what’s with those small upper windows??

This one looks like the Davidson house above, but it comes with children.

Info on house.

More searching took us to a couple more.

These were double occupancy, I really don’t want to live next to someone that works at the water department! This one below is a semi-detached.

The next house was unbelievably dirty. I felt sorry for this little kid, whose father worked for the City Comptroller.

It does have a mill though.

Info on the house.

A big house on the market, over on the west side – Arlington.

Looks like a school next door – don’t need the noise.

Patapsco State Park Bloede’s Dam


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Sunday was a nice day for a hike so we seized the moment and headed to Patapsco State Park. Because of all the flooding and the on-going construction to remove the Bloede’s Dam, a lot of the areas were closed off, which meant the same amount of people trying to cram the smaller accessible areas. Good thing we went early. Other than some parking at the Avalon side, the only other parking was on River Road near the swinging bridge, which was also closed off.

So we parked and took this trail.

I remember seeing this a few years ago. still not sure what it is. I think it may have been a water fountain, that by river pressure through a pipe, supplied water?

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources Geological Survey marker off the side of the trail.

The devastation from the flooding was unbelievable. This area is a few miles downstream from Ellicott City. Part of someone’s fence.

Part of a car.

Trees wrapped around trees…

Or just snapped off


Debris everywhere, unless maybe brought here by a fisherman? Did find a bunch of sea glass (or stream glass!)

Heading to the dam, which is just under a mile away, we can see some construction debris on the other side.

Along with some debris you really don’t want to see in a stream.

Approach to the dam and construction site. From what I read, they are moving the sewer line, putting the Grist Mill Trail over it and removing the dam. 

The fish lift. Trees in the fence. 

The sewer line that needs moving.

Another view of dam.

Above the dam. The construction site, which a lot was washed away in the flood. I like how in this photo the sky is white but the reflection is blue.

On top of dam abutment. Debris just rolled right over the fence.



Historic photo of dam about 1907. Good history on Wiki.

These two photos courtesy of Baltimore County Public Library and Wikipedia.

If you read the Wiki article you can see that this was a world’s first hydro dam, 1906.