Board of Engineers upon the City Grades for the City of San Francisco (1853-54)
Brevet Major J.C. Barnard (U.S. Army Engineers), A.T. Arrowsmith (U.S. Coast Survey) and J.A. Hardie (U.S. Third Artillery) established the City Base level at five feet above the extreme high tide, to accommodate the differential settlement being observed along wharves and waterfront streets (the highest tide recorded over the next 75 years above standard sea level was 5.18 feet on Nov 18, 1918). The first U.S. Coast Survey map of San Francisco was completed in 1852-53 (the first Coast Survey Map of Oakland Harbor and vicinity was completed in 1859-60). The office of City Surveyor was established soon thereafter in San Francisco (1855).
Consultants on foundations of the San Francisco Ferry Building (1893)
Professors Charles D. Marx and Charles B. Wing of the newly formed civil engineering department at Stanford University were appointed consultants to review the plans for timber pile supported foundations of the San Francisco Ferry Terminal, at the foot of Market Street in 1893. This work included the first pile load tests in the Bay Area, building on the techniques pioneered by Army Corps of Engineers Captain P.G.T. Beauregard for the U.S. Customs House in New Orleans 40 years previous, in 1853.
Special Report of Maj. Gen. A.W. Greeley - Earthquake in California - April 18, 1906
Following the Great San Francisco Earthquake of April 18, 1906, the U.S. Army’s Pacific Division, headquarted at the Presidio of San Francisco, was dispatched to provide relief operations to the region’s most damaged neighborhoods. A comprehensive report of these relief and security operations was prepared under the supervision of Major General Adolphus W. Greely, U.S.A., Commanding the Pacific Division of the U.S. Army. The comprehensive report the story of how permanent relief camps and hot food kitchens were established across San Francisco, with detailed tabulations listing how many refugees lived at each releief camp, who managed the emergency shelter and sdsitruibution facilities, and how many citizens were served by each faciltty, etc. The 210-page document also includes 40 photographic plates illustrating the relief operations. An oversize color map denotes the burned-out areas of San Francisco, the locations of military districts, relief camps, and hot food kitchens established by the Army, as well as the individual names of all the wharves serving San Francisco, and many of the industrial sistes, such as the Union Iron Works, etc.
State of California Earthquake Investigation Commission (1906-08)
Three days after the April 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake California Governor George C. Pardee appointed a ‘State Earthquake Investigation Commission’ to make a scientific investigation of the earthquake and report their results to the legislature, the public, and the scientific community. The Commission members were: Andrew C. Lawson, Chair (Prof of Geology and Mining at Berkeley), John C. Branner (Prof of Geology and Mining at Stanford), Charles Burkhalter (Chabot Observatory in Oakland), G. K. Gilbert (USGS geologist at Berkeley), Harry F. Reid (Prof of Geology at Johns Hopkins), A. O. Leuschner (Prof of Astronomy at Berkeley), and W.W. Campbell. Of these, Gilbert and Reid were the only two having any prior experience studying earthquakes.
The committee initially convened on April 21st. Their preliminary report was delivered to Governor Pardee on May 31, 1906. After this date, the commission’s work, and that of several dozen supporting scientists and engineers, was supported by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, DC. Their report was published two years later (late summer of 1908) and was titled: “The California Earthquake of April 18, 1906. Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission,” commonly referred to as the “Lawson Report” for years thereafter. Contributors cited on the title page included A.C. Lawson, G.K. Gilbert, H.F. Reid, J.C. Branner, H.W. Fairbanks, H.O. Wood, J.F. Hayford and A.L. Baldwin, F. Omori, A.O. Leuschner, George Davidson, F.E. Matthes, R. Anderson, G.D. Louderback, R.S. Holway, A.S. Eakle, R. Crandall, G.F. Hoffman, G.A. Warring, E. Hughes, F.J. Rogers, A. Baird, and many others, unnamed. A second volume titled “The Mechanisms of the Earthquake” was written by Harry F. Reid and appeared two years later, in 1910.
Board to Investigate the Impact of the Great 1906 Earthquake (1906-07)
Panel comprised of Grove Karl Gilbert (USGS geologist at U.C. Berkeley), Richard Lewis Humphrey (USGS structural materials specialist), John Stephen Sewell (Captain, US Corps of Engineers, West Point Class of 1891), and Frank Soule (former Dean of Engineering at U.C. Berkeley, and West Point Class of 1866). They co-authored the report titled: The San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of April 18, 1906, and Their Effects on Structures and Structural Materials, published in 1907. This was the first report to note the impact of surficial geology on intensity of seismic site response.
Berkeley civil engineering Professor Frank Soule followed up with the notable article titled “Effect of Earthquake on the Structures of San Francisco,” while his mining engineering colleague Professor Samuel Benedict Christy penned a book titled “Some Lessons from the earthquake and Fire, 1906.”
Engineering Commission on the Rebuilding of Stanford University (1906-07)
Following the disastrous damage to the Stanford University campus during the April 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the university appointed an engineering commission to provide professional advice in connection with the rebuilding of the campus. This commission was comprised of Professors Charles D. Marx and Charles B. Wing of civil engineering, and William F. Durand of mechanical engineering.
Board of Advisory Engineers - Stanislaus Hydroelectric Power Plant (1908)
In 1911 a Board of Advisory Engineers was appointed to advise the California Electric Power Co. on the design and construction of their Stanislaus Hydroelectric Power Plant. This panel included: San Francisco consulting engineer John D. Galloway (BSCE 1889, Rose Polytech Inst), Stanford civil engineering Professor Charles D. Marx, (BSCE 1878 Cornell; Dipl Eng 1881 Karlsruhe Polytech) and Wynn Meredith, a mechanical engineer familiar with the operation of power plants.
California State Water Commission (1912-unkn)
A State Water Commission was established on March 23, 1912, to administer the waters of California and assist in framing the water laws of the state. The first chairman of this commission was Professor Charles D. Marx of Stanford University. Within a few years, this activity was assumed by the Division of Water Rights within the State Department of Public Works. The first Chief Engineer of the Division of Water Rights was Edward L. Hyatt (1888-1954), a native of Riverside, who received his BSCE from Stanford in 1910. He was elevated to the position of State Engineer of California in 1927 and enjoyed a 38-year career is state service.
Engineering Board for the Moccasin Creek hydroelectric plant (1914)
In May 1914 the City of San Francisco appointed a board of experts to advise them on the hydroelectric power plant at Moccasin Creek, which had been proposed by John R. Freeman in his momentous report on the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct system in 1912. Moccasin Creek had a fall of 1300 feet with an inverted siphon about 3000 ft long, giving it the highest pressure head of any significant hydroelectric plant in the United States, up to that time.
They chose Stanford University Professor W. F. Durand (BME 1880 USNA; PhD 1888 Lafayette College), a mechanical engineer and eminent in the field of surge pipe design, San Francisco consulting engineer John D. Galloway, because of his experience with the design and operation of high head power plants, and Frank G. Baum, a leading electrical engineer, whose work on power plant design, operation, and transmission problems was much respected. Their work was carried out between May 4th and early August 1914.
Subsoil Committee of the San Francisco Section, American Society of Civil Engineers (1922)
A.A. Brown, Chairman (Construction Engineer for C&H Sugar Refining Co., Crockett), Berkeley civil engineering Professor Charles Derleth, Jr. (BS 1894 CCNY; CE 1896 Columbia), James M. Owens (Engineer of Street Improvement Plans, SF City Engineer’s Office), and Frank G. White (State Harbor Commission). They were charged by the San Francisco Section ASCE to investigate and report on “Foundation problems in the Filled-in Area of San Francisco.” The committee made regular reports at the b-monthly meetings of the San Francisco Section, and issued a type-written report on February 20, 1923, which was archived in the files of the section in San Francisco.
Consulting Engineers to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (1923-24)
The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) was formed on May 8, 1923, the product of a bond issue passed by the voters of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville, Albany, San Leandro, and El Cerrito. Richmond and Piedmont would later become part of the system. The new district hired Arthur Powell Davis as their new General Manager & Chief Engineer. Davis had served as Director of the U.S. Reclamation Service from 1906-23. He soon drew upon two noted engineers as consultants to the new district: retired Corps of Engineers Major General George W. Goethals, who had overseen construction of the Panama Canal between 1907-14; and, William Mulholland, General Manager & Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles Bureau of Waterworks & Supply, who had conceived and supervised the design and construction of the 233-mile long Los Angeles Aqueduct, between 1906-13.
Powell’s first order of business was to select a suitable dam site in the Sierra foothills as a long-term supply for EBMUD. Powell, Goethals and Mulholland all agreed upon the Mokelumne River watershed and the dam site at Lancha Plana as the most desirable site for a reservoir. This site was subsequently developed in 1927-29 and renamed the Pardee Dam, upon its completion in June 1929. At 345 ft, it was one of the highest concrete dams in the world, with a maximum storage of 215,000 acre-feet.
Committee on Building Safety against Earthquakes (1924)
In 1924 the Seismological Society of America formed a standing Committee on Building Safety Against Earthquakes composed of representatives from the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Institute of Architects, National Board of Fire Underwriters, and the Cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. The members included San Francisco-based consulting engineers Henry D. Dewell, and Walter L. Huber, and Stanford geology Professor Bailey Willis.
The committee took Willis’ Fault Map of California published by the Seismological Society of America and formulated tables listing the probable horizontal acceleration of expected earthquakes, based on observations made after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, using the old Rossi-Forel scale, the distance from known fault lines, and the character of the underlying soil. Dewell was the first engineer to apply these parameters in assessing the damage patterns emanating from the June 1925 Santa Barbra earthquake, and reported the results in Engineering News Record.
Board of Consulting Engineers (1924-25) and establishment of the Port of Oakland (1926)
In November 1924 a board of three consulting engineers was appointed by the City of Oakland to formulate a long-range plan for municipal port development. This board was comprised of Gustave B. Hegart, chief engineer and manager of the Port of Portland, Lt Colonel Charles T. Leeds, consulting engineer to the Port of Los Angeles, and Professor Charles D. Marx of Stanford University. Their Report on the Port of Oakland was completed in September 1925. It recommended $9.6 million worth of improvements to be able to handle 100,000 tons of cargo annually. In March 1926 Hegardt was hired as manager and chief engineer of the newly formed Port of Oakland. He brought in Arthur H. Abel from Portland as his assistant port manager, and construction of the recommended facilities commenced in July 1926. Hegardt remained the new port’s manager until 1932, when Abel succeeded him, serving in that capacity until 1952. It was Abel who is largely responsible for the development of the modern Port of Oakland, including the expansive Navy Supply Center and Army Port of Embarkation Center during the Second World War (1941-45).
Board of Consulting Engineers for the Alameda Estuary (Posey) Tube (1924-28)
In 1924 Alameda County appointed a Board of Consulting Engineers to review their plans for a vehicular tube to be constructed beneath the San Antonio Estuary between Oakland and Alameda near Webster Street, to replace the old swing draw-span Webster Street Bridge (which was wrecked by the collision of the steamer Lancaster on January 7, 1926, while the Posey Tube was under construction).
This board was comprised of: Clifford M. Holland, Professor William H. Burr, and Professor Charles Derleth, Jr. of U.C. Berkeley. C. M. Holland (BA 1905, BSCE 1906 Harvard) had supervised the construction of four major tunnels in New York City, and was directing construction of the largest vehicular tunnel ever attempted up to that time (beneath the Hudson River), when he died of an apparent heart attack at age 41, on October 7, 1924. That project was then named the Holland Tunnel when it opened in November 1927. William H. Burr was a Professor of Civil Engineering at the Columbia University in New York who had served on the various Isthmian Canal Commissions (between in 1899-1906) and most of the consulting boards for major tunneling projects around New York City and Boston. Berkeley civil engineering Professor Charles Derleth was a Consulting Engineer for Alameda County on numerous municipal structures, including the Posey Tube.
The work on the Alameda Estuary Tube was supervised by Alameda County Surveyor George A. Posey, who served as the project’s chief engineer, after voters approved a $5 million bond issue in early 1925. Ned D. Baker was design engineer, supervising all office design work, Merton C. Collins (BSCE 1912 Berkeley) was the project’s structural and ventilation engineer, and Lochiel M. King was construction engineer in charge of field work. Professor Bruce Jameyson (BSCE 1917 Berkeley) of Cal Berkeley’s civil engineering department served as Alameda County’s consulting structural engineer, an association which continued on more than 100 other County projects over the succeeding 30 years, mostly with respect to bridges.
The contract for construction was awarded to the California Bridge & Tunnel Co. on April 28, 1925, calling for completion in 900 days. The subway was 4,437 ft long. One of the project’s most novel aspects was its use of precast concrete tubes, which were sunk in place to form the middle 2,437 ft of the subway, beneath the estuary. These segments were 37 ft in diameter (32 ft inside) and 203 ft long, placed on crushed rock and tremied concrete pads and backfilled with a sand cushion. The project was completed on October 27, 1928 and christened the “George A. Posey Tube.” A second parallel tube was constructed by the State of California in 1960-62, using 12 precast concrete tube segments. These served as the models for the steel BART Transbay Tube constructed in 1966-69.
Ridgway Report on the feasibility of a San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (1927)
Overwhelmed by the conflicting forces promoting various schemes and proposed routes for a trans-East Bay bridge and by the obdurate position of the War Department, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce decided to fund an independent study of sufficient credibility to convince the War Department that a bridge could be built without impeding navigation in the San Francisco Bay. In early 1927 the chamber provided $40,000 for the study and selected a three-man panel of engineers, comprised of: Robert Ridgway, Chief Engineer of the New York Transit Commission, Professor Arthur N. Talbot (BSCE 1881 Illinois) of the University of Illinois, and John D. Galloway (BSCE 1889 Rose Polytechnic Inst.), of San Francisco. Ridgway had recently served as President of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1925. Talbot hadserved as ASCE President in 1918 and had just retired from the University of Illinois, where he had championed the practical uses of reinforced concrete. Galloway was born in San Jose and had operated several engineering firms in San Francisco since 1900. None of the men had been involved in any of the private franchise applications up to that time. San Francisco City Engineer M. M. O’Shaughnessy (BSE 1884, Royal Univ Ireland) served as an adjunct member of the panel.
Ridgway, Talbot, and Galloway released their findings in a detailed report dated May 5, 1927. Referred to as the “Ridgway Report” in the media, it included detailed traffic studies as well as structural mechanics and engineering aspects of such a long bridge, slated to be the world’s longest, by a significant margin. The team addressed the bridge types, suitable alignments, and likely mix of traffic (cars, trucks, trains). It’s only weaknesses were in evaluating the geologic conditions beneath the Bay and suggesting a means to fund construction. The Ridgway board selected an alignment that differed from those previously proposed, although the eastern half of their Alignment 3 was the route ultimately selected.
In June 1927 San Francisco made another application to the War Department for a permit to construct a Bay Bridge, based upon the recommendations of the Ridgway Report. In October 1927 the War Department once again rejected San Francisco’s application.
Board of Experts - Lafayette Dam failure (1928-29)
The160 ft high Lafayette Dam was an earthfill structure placed at a record rate of 9000 yds3 per day in 1928 by George Pollack Construction Co. of Sacramento for the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). This rapid loading led to high pore pressures developing in the clayey foundation, comprised of up to 30 ft of overconsolidated colluvium. Between Sept. 17-21, 1928 the embankment suffered “excessive settlement” of 22 to 26 feet, basically a massive landslide involving about half of the dam’s downstream shell, which extended well into the dam’s upstream face.
EBMUD appointed a board of four nationally-known experts to investigate the causes of the slope failure. This board included: consulting engineer A.J. Wiley of Boise, Idaho, retired Stanford Professor Charles D. Marx, Charles H. Paul, former Chief Engineer of the Miami Conservancy District in Dayton, Ohio, and Caltech Geology Professor F. Leslie Ransome. Wiley had recently chaired Governor C.C. Young’s Blue Ribbon Panel to Investigate the Failure of the St. Francis Dam near Los Angeles the previous March, assisted by Professor Ransome. The board made their first visit to the site on October 28th, accompanied by Arthur Powell Davis, EBMUD’s Chief Engineer & General Manager. The board was authorized to take all the time they deemed necessary to ascertain what had occurred and what might be done to mitigate the damage. The dam was eventually completed in 1932, but with only 37% of the original storage capacity. It has the widest cross section of any earth dam in California.
Board of Geologists for the Martinez-Benicia Bridge (1928)
During the design of the ‘Suisun Bay Bridge’ across the Carquinez Straits between Benicia and Martinez in 1928, the Southern Pacific Railroad retained a board of consulting geologists the advise them on the locating the bridge’s alignment across the head of the Carquinez Straits. The railroad hired geology Professor Andrew C. Lawson and his assistant Louis N. Waterfall of U.C. Berkeley, Stanford geology Professor Bailey Willis, Joseph A. Taff (BS Geol 1894 Texas), who had previously worked for the USGS (1889-1909) and was a consultant based in Palo Alto, and, Dr. G. D. Hanna, paleontologist with the Associated Oil Co.
Lawson appraised the railroad of the Southampton and Martinez faults, which crossed both of the railroad’s proposed bridge alignments. Prior to construction of the Suisun Bay Bridge, the SP ran trains across a ferry that ran due west-east, between Carquinez Point (a pier in Benicia) and Port Costa, a distance of just under a mile, but which crossed the Southampton fault (this line had been established in 1879). The railroad decided to move their bridge two miles upstream, between Army Point, east of Benicia, and Suisun Point, east of Martinez. The Martinez fault projected beneath the north end of this new alignment, but was perceived to pose much less risk (only 200 to 300 ft of offset) than the larger Southampton fault. In addition, the geologists could find no evidence that the Martinez fault extended north of Army Point. The decision process is described in: C.R. Harding’s article, “Location and Design of Southern Pacific Company’s Suisun Bay Bridge as affected by Consideration of Earthquakes,” Bulletin Seismological Society of America v. 19:3, September 1929. Originally named the Suisun Bay Bridge, its name was later changed to the Martinez-Benicia Bridge, shortly after its completion in 1930.
First pseudostatic seismic loads applied to a bridge (1928)
When the Benicia-Martinez Bridge was designed, the Southern Pacific Railroad’s principal engineers associated with the project were Carroll R. Harding, Assistant to the President, and Walter H. Kirkbride, Engineer of Maintenance & Way (who became SP’s Chief Engineer in 1932, and served as President of the Seismological Society of America in 1944). Southern Pacific hired renowned bridge engineer Ralph Modjeski of Chicago to oversee the design of the bridge. Modjeski decided to employ simple trusses, using seven Warren through truss spans of 531 ft length over the main channel, one vertical lift span 328 ft wide over the navigation channel (able to provide 135 ft of clearance), and multiple Pratt deck truss spans for the approach sections. The overall length of the bridge was 5,603 ft, accommodating two parallel tracks on 13 ft centers, with a deck width of 30 ft. The rails were situated 70 ft above the water for 4,050 ft of the span. All of the bridge’s supports extended to the underlying bedrock, up to 80 ft deep. These caissons were designed and built by Daniel Moran of Moran & Proctor of New York, who also built the foundation for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, a few years later.
Based on their discussions with the geologists described above, the bridge was designed to resist earthquake vibrations, by employing a “lateral acceleration of 5 ft per second,” or 0.16g. This lateral load was believed to be twice the intensity of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and 1.5 times that recorded in the 1923 Tokyo earthquake (described in W.H. Kirkbride, “The Martinez-Benicia Bridge,” in the 1934 ASCE Transactions (v.99:154-181). The bridge was constructed between April 1929 and October 1930. It was the last simple truss railroad bridge built in the United States at a new location.
ASCE Committee on Earths and Foundations (1929)
This committee of ASCE was formed in 1929 to foster research work in the emerging field of foundation engineering and soil mechanics. Its goal was to establish centers of research in the United States, I cooperation with the hydraulics laboratories at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State then engaged in the extensive flood and navigation improvements being promulgated along the Mississippi River. The principal members were: Lazarus White, chairman; George E. Beggs, M.L. Enger, R.J. Fog, Glennon Gilboy of MIT; Harry T. Immerman, Dimetri Krynine of Yale, sanitary engineer Frank A. Marston, George Paswell, and Karl Terzaghi. The committee cooperated with Ralph Proctor of LADWP in approving the methodologies employed in developing his compaction tests for the Bouquet Canyon Dams in 1931-33, and with Prof. Gilboy on the hydraulic fill embankments designed by the Corps of Engineers for the Muskingum Project in eastern Ohio in 1934-39, which included construction of the Corps’ first soil mechanics laboratory.