The Steam Tug Baltimore Just Before A Storm

The steam tug Baltimore lies dockside at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on the far side of the Baltimore Inner Harbor. A steam tug with a colorful history One of my first attempts at HDR photography, the gathering storm made for a dramatic image.

History of the Steam Tug Baltimore

Built-in 1906 to perform routine harbor duties the steam tug Baltimore is the oldest operating steam-powered, coal-fired tugboat in the United States. Consisting of a riveted iron hull and wooden deck-house, this beautiful little tug has a single “scotch” boiler providing steam to its compound reciprocating engine.

Notably, in July 1916 (before the US entered WWI) this steam tug received the blockade-running German U-boat “Deutschland” (U-155) on its inaugural voyage. Coming just a month after a major defeat for the German Navy at the Battle of Jutland, the ability of the Deutschland’s crew to evade British and French Patrols as it made it’s way out of the English Channel and across the Atlantic was a significant event, which was duly celebrated on their arrival in Baltimore. U-155 subsequently went on to sink 142 allied ships.

The Baltimore capsizes during a ship launch

The Baltimore represented the city at important maritime civic occasions such as vessel launching. During one such event in 1922, the launched vessel capsized on top of Baltimore, damaging the pilothouse and smokestack. Baltimore City took the opportunity to repair the vessel and replace her boiler.

Having been converted to oil in 1957 the Baltimore was was sold several times during 1963 ending up with Samuel F. and Joanna J. DuPont who converted her into a non-commercial-use steam launch. The duPonts used and maintained the boat until 1979 when she sank in 15′ of water due to the effects of freezing. She was eventually donated to the Baltimore Museum of Industrial History for the cost of raising and moving her to the museum site.

After many years of extensive restoration the steam tug Baltimore is once again plowing the harbor waters, carrying visitors and steaming into the Chesapeake several times a year. You can find more detail about the steam tug Baltimore at this website and about the German Submarine Deutschland at it’s Wikipedia page. The Baltimore Museum of Industry is a really great place to learn more about the importance of the city as a port and a major US industrial center.

Photographic details

This was one of my first attempts at HDR. The darkening skies brought out the reds and yellows of the steam tug and sun as it tried to break through the clouds. I did a little detail editing to remove distracting debris that was floating in the inner harbor. I took the exposures just as the rain started to fall. After that, the heavens opened and a torrential downpour began. Luckily I grabbed the exposures just as the last rays of the sun were pushing through the gathering clouds giving the image a dramatic feel. This was one of the first attempts at HDR imaging and it remains one of favorites. Taken with first DSLR a Pentax k-r at -2, 0 and 2 intervals.

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