Montgomery History has launched a new online exhibit co-developed by Blog Author, Jeanne Gartner and Montgomery History Librarian & Archivist, Sarah Hedlund: “Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed”. Explore Montgomery County and its environs in the early 20th century through the lens of Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. A pioneering automobile dealer and one of the most prolific photographers in Montgomery County at the turn of the 20th century, Reed took motorcycle excursions all over the state of Maryland with his camera, capturing landscapes, monuments, historical places, people, and anything else that caught his attention.
The presentation of the Lewis Reed collection features his photography in several themed exhibitions (Transportation, Photo-magic, Recreation, and Daily Life) which will be released separately over time. The first exhibition, “Transportation in Montgomery County”, features some of the earliest known photographs of various modes of transportation, from horses and canal boats to motorcycles and automobiles. It is an absolutely unique window into how Montgomery Countians lived over a century ago.
Click on the category you are interested in below to visit the various presentations and their photographic content. Through the lens of Lewis Reed, we see that Montgomery County’s history is America’s history.
- Transportation: Lewis Reed loved moving vehicles and photographed the evolution of transportation happening around him at the turn of the century. Explore the pages on modes of transportation in Montgomery County from horse power to automobiles.
- Photo-magic: Details how self-taught photographer and county native Lewis Reed edited photos before computers existed, using techniques like hand-tinting and double exposure.
- Recreation: Enjoy a vicarious getaway by exploring the newest section of the Lewis Reed Photography online exhibit, “Recreation”. View these amazing photos to see how Montgomery Countians in the first half of the 20th century enjoyed fun in the sun — beach trips, camping, fishing, vacationing, attending fairs, and more. You’ll find many summer activities have stood the test of time!
- Daily Life [coming soon!]
Looking back at photography from the past is a fascinating experience for me, and with a newfound interest in history, it occurred to me that with the vast number of historical photographs in Lewis Reed’s Collection, that this blog would be a great place to feature a series of Then & Now photography. I started doing this about a year ago as a research tool, now I mostly do it because of my passion for history and fascination with the subject. With that in mind, I will occasionally be spotlighting some “Then & Now” images from his collection that will show photographs of buildings, street scenes, and other historical locales alongside photographs of how they appear today.
Some of the historic locations in this series includes the Smithsonian, Capitol, Union Station, Old Post Office, Library of Congress, Raleigh Hotel, Key Bridge 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 the historic landmark “Lucy the Elephant”, Gettysburg Battlefield, Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania Monument and United States Regulars Monuments under construction, and Quebec Bridge (the 8th Wonder of the World).
I have no formal history training, just a general interest in local history where I grew up. I will post one of Lewis Reed’s photographs matched with a corresponding contemporary shot of the same area, and supply a few sentences of context. All of them will in some way will offer a visual history of how things have changed over the years. I look forward to sharing them with you.
About This Collection:
Since I started this blog, I have had the opportunity to look through my grandfather’s extensive collection of photographs from historical locations not only in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia, but all across the country. The Reed Photo Collection (1898-1960) spotlights the photographs that I have been able to research and identify. There are 100+ blog posts within this section that gives a snapshot of what life was like more than 100 years ago. Highlights include the Black Rock Grist Mill, Rockville Water Tower, C&O Canal, 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, Rockville Fair dirt track races, Trolley Cars, Wright Brothers Airplane, and Quebec Bridge (8th Wonder of the World). Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history. Many photographic images in this collection have never before been seen publicly in print.
Lewis Reed’s photography has appeared as a resource in highly regarded local history publications, and in historical television programming, including on the national television show American Pickers, Science Channel Impossible Engineering, Maryland Public Television, and the American Experience History Series on PBS.
If there’s an historical marker on the side of the road in Montgomery County, chances are, one of Lewis Reed’s images is on it. Some of the markers that display his photographs include the Andrew Small Academy Marker in Darnestown, The Origins of Darnestown Marker, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station Marker in Gaithersburg, From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda, Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church Marker in Rockville and the 19th Century Crossroads Marker in Darnestown.
Of particular interest is Lewis Reed’s collection of 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 creating images that made it look as if there were ghosts in the picture. It’s pretty amazing how his early photography shows such versatility and creativity considering the limited tools that were available at the time.
Click here to take a look back in time and explore the lives of those who have gone before us.
Note: All images are scanned from prints made from Lewis Reed’s original glass plate negatives. Glass plate negatives were in common use between the 1880s and the late 1920s. No touch-up or alteration has been done, in order to retain their historical essence.
This blog entry is posted today to commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery County Police Department. It was 98 years ago on July 4, 1922 that the MCPD was first established, consisting of five officers and a Chief. Each of the officers was issued a police motorcycle for routine patrol duties and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motor. Thus, the Montgomery County Police Department was formed upon the foundation of the motorcycle.
Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit (THEN): Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. For several years, since there was no police station, the officers would meet for “roll call” on the steps of the Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville at 2:00 p.m. every day to let each other know they were alive and well. Chief Cooley was given the privilege of a Model T Ford. The chief was paid $1,800 a year (the chief now gets $112,564) while the officers got $1,500. Each of the officers was issued a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, a black jack, law book and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motorcycle. Jones patrolled Silver Spring, Rodgers the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and Burdine, Clagett and Gaither the Upper County areas.
The county’s population in the early 1920s was just 35,000 (it’s now more than 800,000). Much of the county was farmland, which accounted for the thefts of livestock. It also was the Prohibition era, when bootlegging and moonshine still factored routinely on an officer’s shift.
The officers worked 14 hours at night, 10 hours in the day, with two days off every two weeks. But they were on call at all times. Since there was no mobile radio contact (the first one-way radio system was installed in cars in the early 1930s), the officers tended to hang around the courthouse or a local firehouse that had a phone.
One of the officers came up with the idea of placing a flashing red beacon light on a pole atop the Rockville courthouse. When flashing, it would alert police that they had a call or were wanted at the office. In 1927, similar lights were used at district stations in Silver Spring and Bethesda.
Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit (NOW): Currently, the Motor Unit consists of forty-two full-time motor officers who make up six decentralized motor squads. The squads are assigned to each of the six district police stations and are under the command of a sergeant. The primary missions of the squads are traffic enforcement, collision reduction, pedestrian safety and maintaining the orderly flow of traffic in the county. The squads are also involved in special details to include, dignitary and Presidential escorts, funeral escorts, the Montgomery County Fair, the Tiger Woods Golf Tournament and numerous foot races and parades.
The Motor Unit currently fields twenty-eight 2007 and 2008 Harley-Davidson Police motorcycles of which four to five are assigned to each of the district stations. The squads at each station are divided into a day work and evening shift and those officers share motorcycles as necessary. The current work period for the squads is eight hour shifts, Monday through Friday. The current work period for the squads is eight hour shifts, Monday through Friday.
The Unit also fields a Competition Team which participates in events that include both the United States and Canada. The team has received numerous awards in both the individual and team categories at these events. The Unit will also be hosting the Mid- Atlantic Police Motorcycle Safety Competition in Gaithersburg, Maryland in September of 2010.
The Montgomery County Department of Police Motor Unit continues its traffic safety mission today as well as the furtherance of police motorcycle safety and awareness throughout Montgomery County and the State of Maryland.
Thank you to the entire Montgomery County Police Department for all you do in keeping our community safe. Salutes!
Sources: “Montgomery County, Two Centuries of Change” by Jane C. Sween
Montgomery County Police Department
Happy Anniversary to Lewis and Ethelene Reed, married 100 years ago on this day June 15, 1920! Shortly after their wedding, the newlyweds left on an extended motor trip to Niagara Falls and other points north. They will be at home after July 1, in Gaithersburg, near the place of business of the groom.
In addition to this photo of their wedding, here is a clipping from the Frederick Maryland “The Daily News”, describing the ceremony.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The tradition of graduation ceremonies, complete with pomp and circumstance, caps and gowns, and awarding diplomas, marks a rite of passage at schools in Montgomery County and at other high schools across the country. Not this year. The coronavirus pandemic has left in its wake widespread cancellations of annual events and ceremonies. This year’s 2020 graduates will be honored in the minds and hearts of loved ones for their achievements, and individual efforts will be made to celebrate the moment, but this year’s graduating seniors won’t be able to participate in the traditional graduation celebrations. In honor of this year’s high school graduates, here is a look back at a collection of photos of graduates from Montgomery County High School that were taken by Lewis Reed in 1910.
A bit of history: Located in the City of Rockville, Richard Montgomery High School is the oldest public high school in Montgomery County. An allocation in 1892 by the then Board of School Commissioners of a $300 addition to the existing elementary school in Rockville brought to fruition the then named “Rockville High School” that served students from grades one to eleven. The first class of twelve seniors graduated in 1897. In 1904, the Board of Education purchased land at the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Monroe Street for the construction of a new school building, to be renamed “Montgomery County High School” at Rockville. Students came to the school by train, trolley, and later by school bus from all corners of the county. In 1935, when the new “Rockville Colored High School” building opened in Lincoln Park, the Board of Education officially renamed the old Rockville High School, “Richard Montgomery High School.”
Back row: Edward Story, Lena Ricketts, Tom Young, Louise Larcombe, Miss Ford, Fred Hays, Lucius Lamar, name unknown, name unknown.
Middle Row: name unknown, name unknown, Jesse Wathen, Jesse Higgins, name unknown, name unknown, Mary Hyatt, name unknown, name unknown.
Front Row: Maude England, Rebecca Lamar, (first name unknown) Garrett, Helen Pumphrey, (first name unknown) Lehman.
Back: Harry S. Beall, Katherine Hughes
Middle: names unknown
Front: Edith Prettyman, Virginia Darby
From The Baltimore Sun, Thursday, May 26, 1910 newspaper:
Old Rockville High School’s First Baseball Team
Inter-school athletics in Montgomery County began with a meeting, duly noted in the Sentinel of February 18, 1910, of the principals of the high schools at Rockville, Gaithersburg, Kensington, and Sandy Spring to formulate plans for a baseball league. Within a month, the athletic association of Rockville High School was formed with Roger J. Whiteford, principal, as manager of the baseball team, Edward Story, teacher, as assistant manager, and Jesse Higgins student, as captain.
Front: Billy Beck, Tom Young, Edward Storey, Harry Beall, Roy Warfield.
Back: Otis Hicks, Lucius Lamar, name unknown, name unknown, Jesse Higgins, name unknown, name unknown, Frederick Hays, Roger Whiteford
Holding pennant: Griffith Warfield
Announce Line-Up of High School Team. Special to The Washington Post, Sunday, March 13, 1910:
The line-up of the baseball team that will represent the Montgomery County High School this season has been decided upon, and the team will start the season as follows: Catcher. Harry Beall; Pitcher, Edward Story; First Base; Thomas Young; Second Base, Griffith Warfield; Third Base, Marshall Darby; Shortstop, Jesse Higgins; Left Field, Roland Garrett; Center Field, Frederick Hays; Right Field, Lucius Lamar; and Substitutes: Otis Hicks, Marshall Manion and William Beck.
On May 27, 1910, commencement was held in the Rockville Opera House. The major address of the graduation ceremony was given by Judge Hammond Urner. Then came the presentation of diplomas by Roger B. Farquhar and the seniors marched into the history of Montgomery County High School, as will their 2020 successors, all proud graduates.
Credit to: E. Guy Jewell, “Richard Montgomery High School.” The Montgomery County Story Vol. 24 (1981)
Other sources of information: Newspapers.com and Montgomery History