Somehow or another I ended up on a mailing list for an organization called S.P.O.O.M. – Society for the Preservation of Old Mills. I just received their latest posting and I see they are visiting Eden Mill on Deer Creek this weekend. Nice mill that I have written about before. (A favorite kayak spot) Back in 1933 when Baltimore City was looking for a new water source, Deer Creek was on the list of possible dam sites. If the dam was built at Rocks State Park, Eden Mill would be flooded. There were quite a few mills below that area which would have lost water power needed for the mills. One of which was Noble’s Mill, which I visited in 2012.
The Noble Mill map shows the road in front of the mill, between Deer Creek and the mill. Google Earth shows the road behind the mill.
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.
I have just about completed scanning and documenting the 1500+ negatives I found a few weeks back (Loose Ends Never End). Only needed to scan just over 700. The others have already been documented elsewhere. I wish someone would have taken the time to at least give a descriptive label to these things, other than the date the photos were taken. From my years of research, most I can identify, others I cannot.
Here are two that were in a group, although not labelled, I recognized as construction of the Susquehanna Conduit. Along with Deer Creek Pumping Station. There are quite a few negatives scattered throughout this collection, although in numerical and chronological order, that should be in other groups of photos.
It looks like a fire tower, just not sure. What my book says about fires in the watersheds:
From File Folder 1194: August 1931 letter concerning the building of a fire tower located near Loch Raven. The State Dept. of Forestry request fire towers at all watershed properties. Rost responds that they (the City) have no money to contribute to the building of these towers. 1932 fire reports: Most report that the fires were caused by smokers. Also a list of damage done: Twenty five acres burned, mostly ten inch hardwoods. 1939 letter from Towson Nurseries concerning property adjacent to the Northern Central RR at Kenilworth. They want to plow some furrows in the field to help stop any fires that may happen. Small gives them permission. January 5, 1943 report of a fire at the Gatekeeper’s house at Lake Roland. May 22, 1945 memo of a fire in the barracks immediately behind of the old gatehouse at Lake Montebello, formerly occupied by the Maryland State Guard. November 20, 1945 fire report, barn owned by City on Mittens’ farm about one mile west of Westminster Pike: On investigation of this fire learned from Paul George, age 46, overseer on Dr. Saffell’s farm, that he was husking corn, in a field near the barn, with five German prisoners. He stated that all of them ate their lunch at this barn around noon. At about 2:45pm, one of these prisoners went on top a hill, to relieve himself, when he came running back and told Mr. George that smoke was coming out of this barn. Mr. George stated that at no time was any of the prisoners in the barn or smoking near same. Dale George, son, said he saw two hunters near the barn earlier but didn’t know them. June 9, 1949 memo concerning all the fires occurring on the property between Pierce’s store and the dam. Mostly are caused by picnickers. 1956 memo concerning fire at Hampton in which fifty acres burnt. Three young boys were caught leaving the fire. Contains lengthy report. 1957 letter from Werner to a Philip Franklin who had started a fire at Loch Raven and then left the scene. Werner wants to know a good reason why he shouldn’t be prosecuted. March 1962 report of a fire north of the dam caused by fishermen.
These two photos are dated May 10, 1965. I know the watersheds have fire roads; I have never seen any of these towers – not that this one would still be standing. Looks pretty rickety to me.
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.
Nice night to go to the Inner Harbor for the City Lights. Thinking that it would be really crowded, we parked on the other side of Little Italy and walked. Just over 4 miles round trip. It was still light out when we got there but figured by the time we walked all the way around the harbor, it would be dark on our return trip, and it was.
The Peale Center, also once Baltimore’s City Hall and Colored School #1 and then a temporary Water Engineer’s office. Then the Municipal Museum and then a vacant…am I missing anything? It has been a lot of things since 1814 and I am really glad it is being restored to a museum.
View from across the street, at the Municipal Building – where the water engineers are now located. Workers had to move their scaffold out of the way so we could get in.
And the real reason for my visit – a talk by Peter Manseau on his book “The Apparitionist”. It was a really good talk. One thing that kind of stuck in my head was when he said, “There are about 50,000 deceased persons on Facebook. Still being visited by family and friends.” It is like a modern day seance in the electronic social media age. People get to see their departed loved ones, just like the photographs taken by 19th century photographers of dead people posing. But Peter’s book goes more into ghost being seen in glass plate images. I can’t wait to read his book…
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!