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When Baltimore began - water was obtained by individuals scooping it from a stream, or a spring, or digging a well as needed. This worked until the growing population demanded a better way.
"3" 1877 Map
Moving water from Loch Raven Reservoir
to Lake Montebello Reservoir
The image above is a picture of the lower Loch Raven Dam competed in 1864. although the suspension bridge no longer exists, the dam with a spillway at 170 feet above MSL still exists along with the gates that allow water through to sustain Gunpowder Falls flow to support aquatic life below the dam. Select the "1877 Map" link on the left to see a map of the 12 foot diameter brick-lined tunnel needed to move the water from here to Lake Montebello. Select the "Moving water from Loch Raven Reservoir to Lake Montebello Reservoir" link on the left learn more about how this was done.

A lot of history occurred between 1712 and 1881, but little happened with respect to public water until 1800 when Baltimore City was granted the authority to introduce water into the community. At this time water sources consisted of four wells located at the following street corners: Calvert and Camden, Charles and Saratoga,Eden and Pratt Street (formerly Queen Street), and Market Place and Baltimore Street.

By 1810 Baltimore City began to purchase the Baltimore Water Company and its wooden pipes, and Baltimore City started to build a dam across Jones Fall to create Lake Roland as a source of water for Baltimore City. The dam across Jones Falls was completed in 1812 and lake Roland was formed. A drought in the fall caused concern for adequacy and a temporary connection to the Gunpowder Falls was considered, and built in 1860.

In 1854, about the time of the Civil War, Baltimore City completed the purchase of the Baltimore Water Company for $1,350,000. Then between 1854 and 1862 the new Baltimore City Water Department constructed transmission lines from Lake Roland to the Hampden Reservoir, Mt Royal Reservoir, Druid Lake, and Western High Service reservoir.

by 1860 a temporary 36 inch diameter cast iron pipe was laid from Gunpowder Falls to Roland Run a tributary of Jones Falls to supplement water levels in Lake Roland as needed. This temporary solution was abandoned by 1881 with the completion of Lake Montebello Reservoir.