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Keyword: history

By Steve Walsh
Director of Public Works

Next time you take a drink of nice cool, clean water; flush away something nasty or take a pleasant drive, think of the engineers over time who have made our modern comforts and sanitation possible. Engineers are the original environmentalists who have toiled for centuries to protect us and our surroundings by coming up with ingenious ways to keep raw sewage, rotting garbage, pollution and disease under control and from affecting our daily lives.

The History of Engineering

Photo of an aqueduct

Ancient engineers developed the aqueducts and water treatment, starting with the ancient Egyptians who collected rainfall and designed copper pipelines to dispose of sewage. Around 2000 B.C., Hindus figured out that water should be stored in copper vessels, exposed to sunlight and filtered through charcoal. The early Romans created drains and sewers and fostered hygienic processes. The “filth, pestilence and plague” of the Dark Ages helped inspire further innovations in engineering.

In the 1600s, English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon conducted thousands of experiments on the treatment of water, including boiling, distillation and percolating it through filters. In the 1800s, hydraulic engineers worked out methods to deliver abundant clean water to the developing cities and reduce the choking pollution from industrial smokestacks. In the 20th century, American engineers sent Neil Armstrong to the moon to take his “giant leap for mankind.” For more of these historical nuggets, check out the interesting article "History of Environmental Engineering," by Washington University in St. Louis Professor Charles A. Buescher Jr., PE, DEE.

The County's World-Renowned Engineering

Photo of the shore of Loch Raven

If you hike or bike around Loch Raven, Prettyboy or Liberty Reservoirs, you may be interested to know that our world-renowned reservoir and dam system for drinking water in the Baltimore region is thanks to engineer extraordinaire Abel Wolman. He was in the very first graduating class of the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering in 1915, and went on to become the architect of Baltimore City’s expansive water and sewage treatment plants built in the 1930s, which still serve some 1.8 million people in Baltimore City and County.

Modern-day engineers come in all stripes, including civil, environmental, transportation, aeronautical, electrical, mechanical and chemical. They keep our bridges and roadways in working order, reduce stormwater run-off from roads and buildings, dredge waterways to keep them open, protect and restore our streams and shorelines, and much more.

National Engineers Week

Did you know that the word "engineer" derives from the Latin words "ingenium," meaning "cleverness," and "ingeniare," meaning "to contrive or devise?" So if you know a clever engineer who is helping to keep our environment healthy and the gadgets, gizmos and systems of our society running smoothly, please take a moment to thank him or her during National Engineers Week, from February 17 through 23. (Sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers.)


By Teri Rising, Baltimore County Department of Planning 

Many well-known place names have unusual origins that are often as unique as the places they represent. Place names come from early settlers and businesses, literature, mythology, and land patents. Early settlers and their businesses often led to their name and the town being put on the map, literally.  

Timonium and the Bard

Timonium originates from an 18th century mansion that was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a fairground expansion. Timonium is derived from the central character of “Timon of Athens,” a play attributed in part to William Shakespeare, and signifies a place of sorrows or solitude.  

Oella: An Incan goddess spins cotton

The textile mill community known as Oella was named after the patent given to the accumulated lands of the Union Manufacturing Co. in 1811. Oella is a spelling variation of Mama Ocllo, a goddess from Inca and Peruvian mythology. The legend of Mama Ocllo and Manco Capac is a traditional story that tells how the Incan culture developed. Mama Ocllo or Mama Oella was said to have taught Incan women domestic arts skills, including how to spin thread. A resurvey document for the tract stated that the name came from "Oella, in honor of the first woman to apply herself to the spinning of cotton on the continent of North America."

Bellona, Sister of Mars

Bellona Avenue takes its name from the Bellona Powder Mill, which was established around 1801. The mill was drowned by Lake Roland in 1861. Bellona was a Roman goddess of war and sister to Mars.

You own it, you name it

There are place names taken from 18th and 19th century land records and their owners. Bowley’s Quarters was named after Daniel Bowley who had a farm in that location in the 1750s and a residence in Baltimore City.  The quarters name was given to an additional farm owned by a planter who lived elsewhere.   

The Caves Valley area was named for the land tract "Coale's Caves" that was surveyed for John Coale in 1705.

The name of White Marsh was used in a 1714 land survey and also was the name of a Ridgely family estate and furnace established by the Nottingham Company around 1753. 

 

Regardless of their origin stories, each one of these names represents a special place in Baltimore County’s past and present.  

To learn more about other Baltimore County names and places, check out the Baltimore County Department of Planning and the Baltimore County Public Library

Photo Sources: Taylor, Robert. Map of the city and county of Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore, 1857, Library of Congress; Ancestry.com. U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918; Baltimore County Public Library. 


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017