Last Sunday the Jones Falls Watershed Association held its annual Rally for the River to draw attention to the health of the river that runs right through the middle of Baltimore City.
The Jones Falls powered Baltimore’s early industrial beginnings and as a consequence became a dumping grounds for all kinds of waste, both industrial and human, resulting in Baltimore leading the country in typhoid cases around the turn of the century.
The solution? Bury the river! In a prime example of employing the most elaborate and expensive solution to avoid solving a root problem, three tunnels were dug starting at what was then the northern end of town and chanelled the river underground until it empties into the harbor. They typhoid problem did subside, but then the river remained just as polluted as it emerged into the Chesapeake Bay.
The river is actually hard to spot as it winds its way through the deep valley that’s shadowed by the shuttered mills and factories built more than a century ago, a strange development for a waterway that was so pivotal to the city’s beginnings. The flip side is that following the river reveals some very quiet and secluded areas that make it hard to believe you’re still in the city.
This year the festivities included the closing of the northbound section of I-83, the freeway built on top of the tunnels that channels the river. This affords a great opportunity to notice things that usually pass by too quickly when travelling by car.
In addition, that same day cyclocross races were being held in Druid Hill Park. It was the first time I got to see a cyclocross event in person and it looked a lot more interesting and fun than roadracing. Now I’m looking at adding yet another bike to the fleet.
Below are pictures from the day in chronological order. Enjoy!