Tag Archive | history

Early Montgomery County Road Paving Equipment

These vehicles below, strangely recognizable as forerunners to our modern equivalents, date from 1909. At this time, a lot of the equipment was still horse-drawn, such as the horse-drawn tanker wagon. Steamrollers (more correctly called road rollers) were literally powered by steam, like locomotives, and were similar to motorized farm vehicles of the time period. Road rollers were the last type of steam engine to be used on the roads. Before the hot tar has a chance to cool, sand, small pebbles, or small pieces of crushed rock are spread on top of it and compacted with a road roller, which also helps to bind it all together into a long-wearing, waterproof pavement.

vintage paving truck

PAVING TRUCK, 1909 – photograph by Lewis Reed

The early 1900s paving truck seen in the photo above is equipped with a high-powered spray mounted on the back of the truck. The truck consists of a storage tank, a burner below it to keep the asphalt hot and liquid, and a pump to pressurize it and send it to the spray bar and through the nozzles in the back. You can see the massive chain that puts power to the rear wheels.

Steamrollers, more correctly called road rollers, were the last type of steam engine to be used on the roads. Before the hot tar has a chance to cool, sand, small pebbles, or small pieces of crushed rock are spread on top of it and compacted with a steamroller that’s powered by steam, which also helps to bind it all together into a long-wearing, waterproof pavement.

vintage steam roller

STEAM ROAD ROLLER, 1909 – photograph by Lewis Reed

This take-off of the steam traction engine was designed specifically for road building and flattening ground mimicking today’s modern rollers used for compacting road surfaces. A single, heavy roller replaced the front wheels and axle and a smoother rear wheels replaced larger wheels without strakes. (strake – name for the diagonal strips cast into or riveted onto the wheel rims to provide traction on unmade ground).

Steam Road Roller

STEAM ROAD ROLLER, 1909. Note the horse-drawn flusher adjacent to the steamroller – photograph by Lewis Reed

In 1900, ninety percent of the roads in Maryland were dirt roads; in Montgomery County the figure was ninety-five percent. In 1909 the State Roads Commission paved the 5.47 miles of Old Georgetown Road with a six-inch macadam covering, and the state did further paving in 1921, 1923, 1926, 1927 and 1929. You can see how much things have changed for the people who work on our roads.

Photos cannot convey the raw power of a steam road roller: the way its pistons, valves, gears, and wheels are locked in constant motion. You really have to see this machinery in action.

Here is a video of a vintage steam roller in action as it chugs along past a camera.

Book Release: “Lewis Reed Photograph Collection (1898-1960)”

I am excited to announce that my second book, “Lewis Reed Photograph Collection (1898-1960)” is now available through Blurb.com print-on-demand bookstore. The book contains 374 pages and 2500+ photographs, the majority of them more than 100 years old, taken by Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. It has informative captions throughout that provide small snippets of history on the people and places pictured. Many photographic images in this collection have never before been seen publicly in print and are available in this book for the first time.

Some of the historic locations in this collection includes the Smithsonian Institution, Montgomery County Maryland Almshouse, United States Capitol, Key Bridge, Union Station, Gettysburg, and other important sites in and around the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. There are also photographs of many non-Maryland locations including Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, Boston, Georgia, North Carolina, and Canada. Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history.

Of particular interest is Lewis Reed’s collection of digitally manipulated photographs. He was 100 years ahead of his time by creating special effects to images long before the convenience and efficiency of digital photography and Photoshop were ever imaginable. Lewis Reed used a wide variety of effects, including hand-tinting, double exposure, applied handwork, and surrealistic, ghost-like effects in his image-making processes. Lewis Reed developed all of his own photographs. He had a darkroom in his house — in the kitchen, to be exact — and worked at night to develop the negatives. As only black and white film was available, his daughter, Mary Jane, learned and perfected the art of tinting the photographs by hand.

Lewis Reed was a well-known photographer in the county and many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives. His photography has appeared in highly regarded history books such as, “Montgomery County: Two Centuries of Change” by Jane C. Sween, “Montgomery County (Then & Now)” by Mark Walston, “Montgomery County (MD) Images of America”, by Michael Dwyer, “Rockville: Portrait of a City” by Eileen S. McGuckian, and “Gaithersburg: History of a City”. His photographs have been featured in the Norris-Banonis Automotive Wall Calendar, on the national television show, American Pickers, and on television’s most watched history series, American Experience on PBS.

Like my first book, I self-published this book using the Blurb book-making software. Self publishing opens up possibilities for books that simply do not fit into the traditional publishing mold.

The book “Lewis Reed Photograph Collection (1898-1960)” is available through Blurb.com print-on-demand bookstore. If you would like to check out the hard copy book or purchase a copy, please visit: http://www.blurb.com/b/8936686-lewis-reed-photograph-collection-1898-1960

A preview of the entire book can be viewed in the Blurb public bookstore. To see the book full screen (highly recommended), simply click on the “PREVIEW” button below the book. (The pages turn by clicking the bottom corners on the left and right of the book). The preview works best in either IE or Chrome; it is not optimized for Firefox.

Note: It’s worth noting that Print-On-Demand (POD) books, are usually more expensive per copy than a book printed via offset printing. That’s because offset printing (the method used for most mass-produced books found in bookstores) requires a minimum order of 500-1,000 copies. Print on demand, on the other hand, needs only a minimum order of one copy. The smaller scale and different workflow results in a higher cost per book, since the books are only printed when they are ordered. This book is not marked up for profit; but sold at base price.

On the Self-Publishing Horizon … Again!

I’m excited to announce that for the last year or so, I’ve been thinking about self-publishing a photo book specific to my grandfather, Lewis Reed, with a working title of, “Lewis Reed Photograph Collection (1898-1960).”  Looking back at photography from the past is a fascinating experience for me, and with a newfound interest in history, the curious part of me wants to learn more: When was the picture taken? Where? What is it? Who’s in it? The majority of his photos are more than 100 years old and many are lacking labels and/or dates, which requires quite a bit of research and a little photo detective work on my part.

With that in mind, I will be frequently spotlighting photographs that may not directly pertain to the history of Reed Brothers Dodge, but will have a lot to do with it’s founder, Lewis Reed. I will not try to be an historian; I will post photos and supply a few paragraphs of context. Many photographic images in this collection have never before been seen publicly in print and will be available in this book for the first time.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few weeks, timid to hit the ‘publish’ button. Likely because the size of the project is overwhelming and committing to it is a bit daunting (although exciting at the same time). It doesn’t help that as the ambition of my projects and goals increase, so too, can self-doubt. Below is the Draft Table of Contents for the book, which I’m sure will see some revisions as I progress.

Having said that, I will be switching my focus and time to mostly photo identification and researching/writing for the book.

Time to get to work!

Draft Table of Contents

Draft Table of Contents

Vintage Dodge TV Commercials

I like to browse YouTube for old school car commercials occasionally to reminisce, or at least in a few cases, watch clips from a time before some of us were even born. So take a trip down memory lane and enjoy watching these cool, vintage Dodge TV commercials.

Reed Brothers Can Now Be Found On “Peerless Rockville”

Peerless Rockville Website

Peerless Rockville has placed a link to “Reed Brothers Dodge History 1915-2012” blog under the Resources section of their website. Our thanks and gratitude to Peerless Rockville for sharing the link to our blog so our local historical information can be preserved and shared with future generations.

Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation, Ltd. is an award-winning nonprofit, community-based organization founded in 1974 to preserve buildings, objects, and information important to Rockville’s heritage. Please take some time to explore their official website here.

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