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WHILBR - Western Maryland

About this collection

This collection of photographic negatives of the stone bridges over the Antietam Creek in Washington County was made availble by Bob Savitt of the Washington County Historical Society. Bob was lent the negatives by Paul and Shelby Beaver of Burkittsville who found them in their attic.

The photographer was initally unknown, but it was soon realized that the photogravures were those used by Helen Ashe Hayes in her book Antietam and its bridges, published in 1910. John C. Artz of North Potomac Street, Hagerstown, was listed as the photographer, though in 1905 he was included in the Hagerstown City Directory as selling icecream and in 1910 he was a confectioner living at 34 N. Potomac, Hagerstown.  He died of congestion of the lungs August 22, 1911.  

John C. Artz was not known as a professional photgrapher. An article in the Baltimore Sun in April 1911 describing the Washington County Free Library as a center of literature and arts in Hagerstown: "More interesting, perhaps, than any other of the pictures that adorn the walls is a complete series of the 14 old stone bridges of Washington county, the work of John C. Artz, an amateur photographer, whose skill with the camera is the envy of many professionals." In a Sun article from August 1911 he was praised for his ability to take photographs of flashes of lightning. He had also been commended by the Washington County Historical Society for his fine photgraphs of historical subjects.

  

 

The photographs of the Antietam stone bridges are ordered as Helen Ashe Hayes used in her book, from the border with Pennsylvania near Leitersburg to the Potomac River near the village of Antietam. There are three photographs of bridges no longer in existence: the Leitersburg Turnpike Bridge, the bridge on Route 64, formerly known as the Cavetown Pike which was replaced in 1934, and the Hagers Mill Bridge on Mt Aetna Road, replaced in the 1970s after Hurricane Agnes. Artz was unable to photograph the middle bridge of the trio located on what is now the Antietam National Battlefield.  It was damaged in the 1889 flood. To complete the story of the original stone bridges of the Antietam Creek, Alexander Gardner's September 1862 photograph of the Orndorff Bridge is included. Also listed in the metadata is the Maryland Inventory of Historic Places index number, so a reader can check the description in Maryland Inventory of Historic Places 

The thanks of Western Maryland Regional Library are extending to Bob Savitt who made the negatives available to us, to Paul and Shelby Beaver of Burkittsville who shared the negatives with Bob, to Julie Shenk who researched the history of the bridges and located the newspaper reports on their construction, Joseph Beger who created readable newspaper images and Faye Stauch who transcribed the newspaper stories.

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The easiest way to review the photographs is to click on the Browse All above. The next button will take you through the collection. You can also search for a specific bridge or location, as in "Burnside" or "Leitersburg"

 
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