Bloede's Dam

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Bloede's Dam
Bloedes dam.jpg
The remains of Bloede's dam (as of the 1930s or 1940s)
Official name Bloede's Dam
Location Catonsville / Ilchester, Maryland
Coordinates 39°14′49″N 76°45′40″W / 39.247023°N 76.761083°W / 39.247023; -76.761083Coordinates: 39°14′49″N 76°45′40″W / 39.247023°N 76.761083°W / 39.247023; -76.761083
Opening date 1907
Operator(s) Maryland DNR
Dam and spillways
Impounds Patapsco River
Height 26 12 feet (8.1 m)
Length 220 feet (67 m)
Width (base) 40 feet (12 m)
Recorded National Historical site[citation needed]

Bloede's Dam was a hydroelectric dam on the Patapsco River in Maryland. It was the first known instance of a submerged hydroelectric plant, where the power plant was actually housed under the spillway. It is also recognized as one of the earliest dams constructed of reinforced concrete. This area is now part of Patapsco Valley State Park Avalon Area.[1]

History and design[edit]

An image of the 34-inch Poole & Hunt Leffel Wheels and the 30-inch Samson Turbine.[2]

The Patapsco Electric and Manufacturing company, of Ellicott City, brought fame to the Patapsco River corridor in 1906 when it constructed the world's first underwater hydroelectric plant to supply its electricity. The Dam is named for Victor Gustav Bloede (pronounced as Blerda), a German immigrant who founded of the Avalon Water Works in the same area, was its president at the time. Bloede hired electrical engineer Otto Wonder to oversee the development of this unique hydroelectric project near Gray's Mill on the Patapsco River.[3] Construction was performed by the Emmerson Ferro-Conrete company of Boston.[4] The dam itself was 220 feet (67 m) long, 40 feet (12 m) wide at the base and had a drop of 26.5 feet (8.1 m). It was an Ambursen Hydraulic Construction Company (Boston type) reinforced concrete slab and buttress dam. The power plant technology and equipment were state of the art when it went into operation in 1907, with 34-inch Poole & Hunt Leffel Wheels and two 30-inch 500hp horizontal Samson Turbines capable of a electromotive force of 11,000 volts.[5] A 200 foot long fish ladder was constructed along the site. The arrangement made the facility the world's first underwater hydroelectric plant.[6]

In its original plan, the plant was meant as an independent competitor to the local electric companies, and supplied power to the surrounding towns of Illchester, Ellicott City and Catonsville many of which were outside of the utilities' service area. It replaced an earlier 300hp plant purchased for $12,000 in 1900 two miles away at Gray's mills that employed a millrace with a bevel gear and rope drive.[7][8] The $175,000 electric generation equipment was engaged on 28 November 1908 at 3:30pm by Victor Bloede's daughter, Miss Vida Bloede. Waffles were served to 500 dignitaries and guests from electric waffle makers. [9]

The newly formed Maryland Public Service Commission refused to grant Bloede a franchise to compete in electricity generation. Bloede claimed that Consolidated was attempting to force a sale because the company was charging less on street light contracts with Catonsville and Baltimore.[10] In 1913, the plant was sold to Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power, a predecessor company of Constellation Energy for $200,000 in stock. Consolidated constructed a new head gate and sluice after the purchase.[11][12] The dam continued to generate electrical power within its interior until 1924 when it was closed due to the competition of larger, more powerful plants. The 38 acre property was sold to the State of Maryland on 22 July 1938 on the condition that the property would not be resold to competition to generate electricity or be developed in the future.[13] Although the dam was severely damaged by the flood of Hurricane Agnes 1972, much of the dam still stands, although the dam has been gutted leaving only a mud filled shell. The gate house structures which did survive have been removed since the storm left them unsafe. A semi-exposed sewer line remains onsite. In 1979 the state of Maryland budgeted $30,000 to investigated stabilizing the dam.[14] In 1992 the Department of Natural Resources added a $1.58 million dollar fish ladder to allow migrating fish to swim upstream without being blocked by the dam. More controversy has risen about the American eel in that the dam blocks their passage as well.

Removal[edit]

The removal of Bloede's Dam is expected to start in July 2016 with work expected to be completed by December 2017. [15] A 8 million dollar request for proposal was prepared by American Rivers nonprofit in 2016 to demolish the dam to expose and remove 1,700 feet on non-supported sewer pipe situated on silt built up behind the facility. Silt is expected to overload river two years before recovery. The removal of the dam is expected to remove a hazard where nine deaths occurred since the 1980's to be replaced with a swift shallow rocky area for kayaking.[16][17] Two dams upstream of Bloede's Dam, Simkins and Union, were removed in 2010. Removal of Bloede's Dam will leave Daniels Dam as the last remaining dam along the main branch of the Patapsco River.

The Bloede Dam as it once stood in ca. 1907[18]

See also[edit]

Footnotes and References[edit]

Much of the information found here was provided by the Baltimore County Public Library.

  1. ^ Bryan MacKay. Baltimore Trails: A Guide for Hikers and Mountain Bikers. p. 4. 
  2. ^ Used with permission from the Baltimore County Public Library. "Photograph Bloede turbine generators ca. 1907". Retrieved October 3, 2007. 
  3. ^ Victor C. Bloede. The journey: Victor G. Bloede, his forebears & successors. p. 230. 
  4. ^ "Power Plant in River". The Baltimore Sun. 26 November 1908. p. 7. 
  5. ^ "Power Plant in River". The Baltimore Sun. 26 November 1908. p. 7. 
  6. ^ JAMES WALTER PEIRCE. A GUIDE TO PATAPSCO VALLEY MILL SITES: OUR VALLEY'S CONTRIBUTION TO MARYLAND. 
  7. ^ "Power Plant in River". The Baltimore Sun. 26 November 1908. p. 7. 
  8. ^ "TO CALL MR. DEAN". The Baltimore Sun. 29 December 1908. 
  9. ^ "TURBINE PLANT OPENED: Submerged Electrical Generators Put In Operation At Ilchester MISS VIDA BLOEDE SPONSOR By Slight Movement Of Hand She Starts $175,000 Machinery--To Supply Suburbs With Current". The Baltimore Sun. 29 November 1908. p. 8. 
  10. ^ "Submit's Bloede Sale". The Baltimore Sun. 11 April 1913. 
  11. ^ "HE ATTACKS MR. BLOEDE: Vice-President Wagner Says Activities Only Harass Consolidated CONTROVERTS HIS COMPLAINTS Declares The Owner Of The Patapsco Plant Seeks To Sell Out To The Consolidated". The Baltimore Sun. 2 March 1912. 
  12. ^ "Non Pros by Dr. Mattfildt". Baltimore Sun. 29 September 1914. 
  13. ^ "Patapsco River Land Acquired For State Recreation Area". The Baltimore Sun. 22 July 1938. 
  14. ^ The Maryland State Budget Volume 1 Maryland Governor. 1979. 
  15. ^ "Maryland Dept. of Natural Res.". 
  16. ^ Rachael Pacella (23 March 2016). "Bids set to go out for removal of Bloede Dam at Patapsco Valley State Park". The Baltimore Sun. 
  17. ^ "Man, 18, drowns near dam". The Baltimore Sun. 22 May 1982. p. C2. 
  18. ^ Used with permission from the Baltimore County Public Library. "Photograph Bloede dam ca. 1907". Retrieved October 3, 2007. 

External links[edit]