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Full text of "The history of the early water supply of Baltimore / K.F. Spence."

THE HISTORY 0? T i lTEB SUPPLY OF BALTIM< 



P. Spence. 
I//9/26 




HITRODUCTIOIT 



■rom the earliest records of civilization have come 
the accounts of man's early attempts to secure for his hone a 
supply of good and clean water. In the Bible we read of the 
"hewers of wood and drawers of water" , arid other similar 
passages relating to the water supply of early peoples. 
Damascus had its conduits, and King Solomon built aqueducts 
at Jerusalem, and he is said to have built the foundations 
and aqueducts of Tyre. 

The wonderful aqueducts built by the Romans are a 
monument to their genius and engineering ability, and they 
were constructed so well that even today several are used to 
help supply Home with water, The Greeks carried conduits 
under streams, cut through mountains, and even went under 
the sea in the case of the city of Syracuse. Two of the con- 
duits that supplied Athens were carried under the Illisus 
Hiver. These conduits are noted for their remarkable 
structure and engineering feats. 

After the decline of Roman Power in Europe, the 
people aid not realize the necessity for pure and wholesome 
water, and it is said that this was one of the greatest 
factors causing such pestilence and plague that swept over 
Europe. Probably the first water pipes laid in Europe were 
laid in London. They were of lead and were laid about 1255. 



-2- 



This city was supplied by a private water company as early as 
the sixteenth century. Other 3uropean cities later put down 
wood pipes and from then on the universal demand for public 
water supply has gradually increased. One of the Venetian 

oassadors in his report to the Republic in 1410, said that 
there were pipes in the streets with pressure enough to raise 
the water to the top of the highest building. Ke didn't 
mention the height of the building. 

In America little ivas done in the way of public 
water supply before the eighteenth century. 



-I- 



Luriiig its early history, Baltimore was supplied "by- 
many springs of pure and excellent water, but as the town 
continued to grow, these springs he came contaminated and 
another supply of water had to he found. From a rock cliff 
between Lexington and Center streets, a great spring gushed 
forth, and for many years this "Oity Spring" was the chief 
supply. Col. Howard's Spring, on Charles Street between 
Center Street and ^ount Vernon Place, was also noted for its 
excellent water. Around these two springs, the earliest of 
Baltimore's finest residences were clustered. 

EARLY ATTEMPTS TO FOELi A WATEE COMPANY 

In 1787, the first attempt was made to establish a 
water company, but it met with such little favor that the 
proposition was dropped. Again in 1792., an effort was made, 
and on the SSrd of December of that year, the Maryland Legis- 
lature passed an act "author! zing the Maryland Insurance 
Company, under the name of 'Baltimore Water Company' , to supply 
the town with water by pipes from a sufficient reservoir". 
But from the lac^i of public interest, this second effort failed 
as did the first, and nothing was done by the company. Even 
after the city was incorporated in 1796, the people continued 
in their attitude of indifference. At the first meeting of 
the City Council it was recognized that Baltimore needed a 



supply of water in the event of a conflagration, but only 
appropriated $1,000 "to erect and maintain pumps in the 
streets, lanes and alleys of Baltimore". Again in 1799, the 
subject was discussed and a commission was appointed to 
examine the creeps and streams in the vicinity of the city 
and to give a report on the practicability of conveying their 
water into the city. Gwynn's Hun, Jones ..''alls and Herring 
?\wa were examined, and the report submitted stated that 
Gwynn's Hun was the most desirable source of supply. 

Upon the report of the committee, the City Council 
authorized a lottery to raise the necessary money. Surveys 
and plans were made out, but the pestilence of 1800 put a 
stop to all work until .December of that year when the State 
Legislature passed a bill authorizing the ! ayor and City 
Council to procure water for the city of Baltimore. 

The newspapers of the City at this time stated that 
the people were of the opinion that a public water supply was 
beyond the pecuniary ability of Baltimore City to accomplish. 
* matter was again dropped until 180S, when the City Council 
appointed a board of twelve commissioners. This board was 
authorized to introduce a supply of "pure and wholesome water''. 
Under the direction of the board, many springs near the head 
of Carroll's Hun were collected and were about to be piped to 
the City when the work was stopped by an injunction obtained 
by the property owners upon whose land the pipe was to be laid. 



-3- 

Once more the project of supplying the City was abandomed. 
Having made so many unsuccessful attempts, the Mayor, Mr. Cal- 
houn, asked the City Council to adopt any measure to remedy 
the situation. And so they authorized the Mayor to receive 
proposals for introducing a permanent supply of water into the 
cit . 

THE BALTIMORE 7AT3R COMPAF? 

Realizing the imminent necessity for a public supply 
of water, at a meeting held on April 20th, public spirited 
citizens formed an association for the purpose of "Introducing 
a copious supply of wholesome water into the City of Baltimore',' 
and applied to the State Legislature for a charter of incor- 
poration under the name ''The Baltimore Water Company". The 
charter was immediately granted, but owing to objectionable 
restrictions, the corporation refused it. Subscriptions for 
the company were very hard to obtain, and had not the insur- 
ance companies and other public institutions come to their 
aid, this company would have met the same fate as the former 
proposals. 

The company purchased "several parcels of land" 
from Messrs. John Eager Howard, Jo si as Pennington and James 
Cgleby embracing water privileges in that part of Jones ^alls 
Valley which lies just above and below present Eager Street 
bridge. Nothing was said about the former proposition of 



-4- 



Gwynn's Run, so it is assumed to have been all out of consid- 
eration. This tooic place in the latter part of 1804, when 
the company was composed of -John ,.c: r im, President, and Wta. 
Cookie, John Donnell, Solomon -^tting, Jas. A. Buchanan, Jona- 
than Elliott and James j.csher, directors. 

Having secured the services of an engineer, :'r. John 
Davis, the company proceeded to erect a pump house on the 
property now occupied by the office of the ITorthern Central 
Railroad on Calvert Street. The water came from Salisbury 
Mill, near the site of the Belvidere Bridge, by canal to the 
pump house and was then lifted by pump into a reservoir at 
the southwest corner of ^ran^lin and Cathedral streets, and 
by water-wheel into the reservoir at Calvert and Center streets, 

EARLY TYPES OF PIPES 

In June 1805, the Company contracted with Sam Pushes 
of Harford County for a supply of cast-iron pipe of sizes 
varying from 2-|-" to 6", at prices from ;)65 to $80 per ton. 
But most of the early pipes laid were made of wood — locust 
or spruoe pine logs, 12 M - 15" in diameter with a 4" hole 
bored through them for carrying the water. This wood pipe 
proved very unsatisfactory after d,o years of service, and 
after Llay 1829, all wood pipes were replaced by cast-iron. 
But at this time there were 42,230 lineal feet of wood pipe 
and 50,530 feet of iron pipe. Baltimore was one of the 



-5- 



earliest cities of the world to lay cast-iron mains. It is 
said that some of the first cast iron pipe was imported from 
England, 

[E FIRST PUBLIC SUPPLY 

Again, In November 1805, the Company applied tc 
the legislature for an "act of incorporation", hut action 
seemed to be so slow that the Company asked the Mayor and Cit.v 
Council for the privilege "to open streets, lanes and alleys 
for the purpose of laying down water pipes". In December, 
the Directors and a Committee of the City Council held a con- 
ference in regard to the purchase of the Company's stock by 
the City, but nothing definite was settled, and in February 
1806, the City Ordinance granted permission to lay down pipes. 
Previous to May 1807, the Company appears to have furnished 
no water to the City except a small amount which was supplied 
hy natural flow from Col. howard's Spring. This wonderful 
spring is now covered by a terrace ai;d walk, on Charles Street, 
just north of Center Street. It was obliterated years ago to 
make way for the improvements of the City. 

But in May 1807, the pumps were put into operation 
and henceforth water was supplied to the City — almost 
exclusively through the reservoir at Franklin and Cathedral 
streets. 



-6- 



In December 1808, the ^>tate legislature granted a 
desirable charter that was accepted by the Company. 

©ITIONAL CO] STRUCTIOK 

~..o additional construction work was done by the 
Company from 1808 to 1830, during which time the yearly earn- 

s gradually increased from somewhat less than $9,000 in 
1811, to about $80,000 in 1830. At this date, the Company 
offered to sell out to the City for $550,000 but the offer was 
declined. During the three years, 1830-33, the Company 
enlarged their privileges by the purchase of Salisbury Mill, 
near the site of the Belyidere Bridge, and they also expended 
large sums in the construction of a new pump house, on the 
site of the old one, and a new reservoir, ITo record has been 
found of its exact location. Consequently, after this addi- 
tional construction, the Company raised its demand to .)500,000 
and negotiations were again suspended. At this date, the 
annual income was over $21,000, with 2,164 accounts on the 
books. 

In February, 1835, the Company was again approached 
by the City Council in regard to the purchase of the water 
works, but after some correspondence in which the Company 
asked -J550,000, the matter was dropped by the withdrawal of 
e Company's offer in April of that year. At this time, 



-7- 



there were eighteen miles of water pirjes laid down in the City, 
one quarter of which was wood, one quarter of the old defective 
cast-iron and the remainder of the improved type of 1862 - the 
bell and spigot pattern. At this time, the annual receipts 
were ,'25,500. 

THE CITY PURCHASES THE COMPANY 

From 1835 to 1852, the demand for water increased 
quite rapidly and the company kept up with the demand by the 
purchase of additional privileges around Jones Falls, erect- 
ing new pumps, new reservoirs, and extending the pipe system 
throughout the city. As a result, the income in 1852 was 
'••80,000. .it this time, the City again applied to the Company, 
asking the demands of the Company. They agreed to sell the 
/or^cs to the City for .;i, 2 50, 000, but though this was not 
accepted, it led to negotiations which culminated in the sale 
of the entire works to the City in August 1854, for -;1, 350, 000. 
The sale included not only the water wor±:s proper, but several 
large mills and much valuable real estate which the Company 
had purchased for its water rights and privileges. 

The water works proper, at this time, consisted of 

two small pools of water in the valley of Jones ^alls, which 

were formed by the original dams of the Mt« Royal and Rock 

■ills, and from which the whole supply of water for the City 

was conducted in large cast-iron mains to a receiving reser- 



-8- 



voir within the city limits. This reservoir w r ;.s located en 
the east hank of the Palls, a short distance below the Charles 
Street bridge. From here it was distributed by gravitation to 
all parts of the city not over 60 feet above mean tide, and 
for those parts of the city over 60 feet the water was raised 
by pumps to a second reservoir situated at Charles and Chase 
streets, and thence distributed to all parts of the City not 
over 136 feet above mean tide. 

Distributing pipes at this time were almost exclu- 
sively of iron, and formed a net-wort about fifty miles in 
extent throughout the City. 

The combined capacity of the two reservoirs was only 
25 millions of gallons, and the capacity of the two mill 
ponds which could be made available was only 10 millions of 
gallons more. Consequently the water was very seldom free 
from earthly impurities, and was often cloudy or turbid from 
recent rains. 

I 3BD ?03 i: DEE A3."D SUPPLY 

The City was growing so rapidly at this time that 
the city authorities deemed it advisable to provide for an 
increased supply of water. From 1854 to 1857 examinations 
and surveys wore made by competent engineers for introducing 
an abundance of excellent water from any one .of several dis- 
tinct sources of supply, at a reasonable cost, marly in 1857, 



-9- 



the administration of the 7ater Department was reorganized by 
the creation of a Board of ^ater Commissioners, who were 
authorized to provide for an increased supply of water to the 
City of Baltimore from Jones j'alls. Having fully investigated 
the subject and chosen a plan, the Board at once proceeded to 
make all purchases and condemnations of land and water privi- 
leges necessary to the construction of the New Works. 

TEE NEW tJHKS 

The plan selected was to deliver water at an eleva- 
tion of ZZO feet above tide, by natural flow only. Work was 
started in 1858 by the erection of a dam across the valley of 
Jones 'alls hear the place commonly known as Relay Station on 
the Northern Central Railway, at the point of confluence for 
the water-shed of the valleys of Bcwen's Mill Run from the 
east, Roland' s Run from the north, and Creen Spring from the 
west. These runs taken toge trier formed the head of Jones 
I^alls. The dam and the excavation of the lake thus formed 
was far enough finished to be put in use in 1860, and was 
entirely completed in 1861. 

All higher portions of the bottom of the lake were 
cut down so us to be at least 10 feet below normal surface 
of water. The excavation of the bottom of the lake comprised 
an area of oO acres, and the excavated material was used to 
form an embankment around the margin of the lake. All vege- 



-10- 



table material and perishable matter was removed from the 
bottom and sides for several feet above the high water line. 
The lake was rip-rapped, that is, stone was placed along some 
portions of sides washed by choppy water, and gravel was also 
placed in a layer over exposed loamy portions of the bank or 
margin. 

II o kind of impurities were found during the first 
year of its use except that which might arise from protracted 
heavy rains, but this could be remedied by the construction 
of additional reservoirs until their united capacity equalled 
20 days water supply. The supply then was only for ten days. 

The surface of the lake comprised an area of 116 
acres, and was 225 feet above tide. The lake held 500 millions 
of gallons and an additional 400 millions could be made 
available by drawing off the water into pipes and conveying 
it to the city by means of the aqueduct. 

±he original plan was to make the dam of earth, but 
owing to the danger to life and property by a possible breach 
and the consequent entire demolition of the struction, this 
plan was dropped and the dam was built of masonry sunk into 
bed-rock. 

The water from this lake, called Poland Lam, was 
pumped into two reservoirs, lake Hampden and It. Royal Reser- 
voir, the former for high service and the latter for low 
service. 



-10- 



table material and. perishable matter was removed x'rom the 
bottom and sides for several feet above the high water line. 
The lake was rip-rapped, that is, stone was placed along some 
portions of sides washed by choppy water, and gravel was also 
placed in a layer over exposed loamy portions of the bank: or 
margin. 

No kind of impurities were found during the first 
year of its use except that which might arise from protracted 
heavy rains, but this could be remedied by the construction 
of additional reservoirs until their united capacity equalled 
20 days water supply. The supply then was only for ten days. 

The surface of the lake comprised an area of 116 
acres, and was 225 feet above tide. The lake held 500 millions 
of gallons and an additional 400 millions could be made 
available by drawing off the water into pipes and conveying 
it to the city by means of the aqueduct. 

7he original plan was to make the dam of earth, but 
owing to the danger to life and property by a possible breach 
and the consequent entire demolition of the struction, this 
plan was dropped and the dam was built of masonry sunk into 
bed-rock:. 

Phe water from this lake, called Poland Dam, was 
pumped into two reservoirs, Lake Hampden and lit. Royal Reser- 
voir, the former for high service and the latter for low 
service. 



-11- 



In June 18i38, was commenced on the conduit line 

A 

which "began at the upper gate of Ho land Dam, and went to 
Hampden He servo ir, a distance of 5.6 miles. The line con- 
sisted of open cuts and three tunnels whose lengths were 
1,000 feet, 1,SS5 feet and 2,950 feet, Excavation work was 
completed by April 1859, and masonry work by January 1, 18G0, 

The conduit was an exact copy of that at the 
Cochituate Water Tories. It was oval in shape, made of bricks 
cemented by hydraulic mortar. . an -holes were dropped in top 
of conduit every quarter-mile (except at longest tunnel) and 
were v.ed by a small pyramidal shaped stone over the slab 
which covered the man-hole. Shafts were sunk to facilitate 
excavation in tunnels but all were refilled on completion of 
work. 




£ r e3S-se«tcon **""* cond 



uii 



The water in Hampden Heservoir was 8 feet lower 
than in the lake (Roland Dam), and the conduit was eleven and 
one -half feet under the surface of the water in the reservoir. 



-12- 



One waste weir was placed in conduit "below dam to keep the 
level of the water down and to prevent any waste in dry- 
season. Another weir was placed half way between the dam and 
reservoir. 

Hampden He servo ir is located on the Palls turnpike 
near Hampden village, immediately east of Druid Hill Park. It 
was serai-circular in form, and was covered with a lining of 
puddled clay 3 feet thick, then 2 feet of gravel, then stone 
pavement 16 inches thick. • The depth of the excavation was 
23 feet and depth of water 20 feet (217 feet above mean tide). 
Interior slopes were 3 to 2, exterior slopes were 2 to 1. 




^pB§3pp§i%j|^| 




Cc*>Bg S&ction af bofTorfl of fi~ 



aservoir. 



A capacity of 60 millions of gallons included the 
water in the conduit. It could be supplied 1 directly from the 
coiiduit to the City or through the reservoir, 

::.e pipe line from Hampden Reservoir to the city 
limits consisted of 2 lines of pipe o-r p± ■ , 7,100 feet long, 



each 30 inches in diameter. It was carried under and across 



-15- 

Jones Falls to a point opposite Mt. Royal Mills, thence 
through embankment to the pipe vault of Mt. Royal Reservoir , 
thence under the bed. of ',/est Oliver street extended, to the 
intersection of the latber with Northern Boundary Avenue, 
The pipes were provided with air-cocks at high points and 
drain pipes at low points, towhich access was made by 
man-holes. 

Mt. Royal Reservoir was located on the old Mt. 
Royal Mill property cut off by the railroad. It was constructed 
the same as Hampden Reservoir, except itwas circular in 
form, was 150 feet abcfcve mean tide, and had a capacity of 
30 million gallons. A 20 inch drain pipe was provided for 
the reservoir. Water was screened before it entered the 
two 30 inch iron pipes that took it to the city. 

Jones Palls was the only water supply until 
1882, so this concludes what might be called the history 
of the early water supply of Baltimore. 



-14- 



All material for this thesis was taken from the 
following: - 

1. Report to Chairman and Members of the Water Board, 
City of Baltimore, submitted on June 2, 186£, by Charles P. 
Manning, Chief Engineer of Hew Works. 

Z. From Report to the Water Board by Nicholas 3. Bill, 
Chief Engineer for City, submitted on January 1, 1898. 

3, From an article written in recent years "oy 
7. Bernard Siems, present Chief Engineer of Baltimore ,/ater 
Department. 





HI HHI^HHr- 




Sit© of the first pump- 
house, on Calvert S.treet, 



Calvert and Center Steeets, 
where old reservoir was located. 




Franklin and Cathedral Streets; 
location of former reservoir on S.W, cornel'. 






ft* I 

1 m 











Two Pictures of Howard and Center Streets where 



Id warks stood. 




■ 



Concrete walk built over Col. Howards Spring 




Hi 



Site of old Ut. Koyal Reservoir, now demolished 
to make way for new street, as shown in picture 




Site of forme r reservoir on 

east hank of Jones Falls, 
near Charles Street bridge. 




»*4 



Druid Hill Reservoir