Unlike an interior shot of the engine room of Captain Nemo's Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this seemingly Jules Verne inspired four story high, triple expansion Levitt Steam engine is absolutely real.
The story is that my friends Jim and Jamie knew the engineer, Bruce, who was in charge of this out-of-commission pumping station that still is located in Chestnut Hill, MA, very close to Boston College.
We made several visits to this amazing time capsule of gages and valves, and an incredible array of German silver fittings, and huge flywheels that went through the floor to the decks below, with cast iron spiral staircases leading to service decks covered with more gages and oilers.
At that time I was the proud owner of a Nikon F with a 50mm F2 lens (the F1.4 was much desired, but costly) and a small supply of Kodak Ektachrome T transparency film with an ASA of 100, process E4. Film and processing were expensive and I had other things to do with the $10 it would have cost to process this cassette, so I put it aside, in 1972, only to find again in 2005.
So I sent it to a lab called Rocky Mountain Film Services or something, and they promised to process it properly, and if I was lucky, there would be some image remaining. After a long wait, I was surprised to see a pile of underexposed prints show up at my door - disappointed and angry I was - because they had processed the E4 film as a color negative! Aghast I put the film away. What a loss.
Then, last month, I bought an Epson 750 pro film scanner. This is the same scanner that produced the good scan of Hemlock Gorge that is shown elsewhere on this blog. So last week I finally pulled out "The Waterworks Negatives" and got to work, using the Epson scan utility, some patience, and a dose of Photoshop, and here is the result.
Click on the image for a larger view. I think I will do this again, and at even higher resolution.
The Boston or Metropolitan Water Works fell under the Metropolitan District Commission which was eventually folded into the State Police. A few years ago, the roof of this building had holes in it from neglect, and the brass, steel and wood were badly corroded. Now it is a partially restored museum, and some of the space has been converted into extremely expensive condominiums.