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Engineering and Water, 1913 [Slide Show]

Civilization needs water. Our skill in engineering ways to use it, contain it, or get rid of it is one of the foundations of our society

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Mississippi River Dam:

The dam and lock at Keokuk, Iowa, were completed in 1913. The lock enabled river traffic to go over the rapids there. The water powered turbine wheels, just like the one in our photograph, in a hydroelectric plant that was the largest in the world at the time.....[ More ]

Trapping Water for Use:

At Elephant Butte in New Mexico, a dam was built across the Rio Grande from 1911 to 1916. The dam still provides water for farming and electric power across the southwest. In the photo, a small locomotive is hauled by a wire hoist across to a work site.....[ More ]

Erie Canal Upgrade:

The old Erie Canal, used to transport cargo through New York State, was widened between 1905 to 1918 to accommodate larger motorized steel barges. Here is one of the new concrete locks, this one at Waterford, at the eastern end of the canal.....[ More ]

Ambrose Channel, New York:

The Channel was part of an ongoing struggle in New York Harbor to provide a safe route for large cargo ships through the sometimes shallow waters of the bay. The image shows the scale of the dredging operation compared with the work on the Panama Canal, the other huge engineering project of the day.....[ More ]

Water for Farming:

Strawberry Valley in Utah had good soil for farming, but it lacked water. From 1906 to 1913 a tunnel was bored through four miles of mountain, bringing water from a new reservoir to generate power and supply and thirsty farms.....[ More ]

Over the Water:

The new Colorado Street bridge in Pasadena made use of graceful concrete arches. It has been named as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.....[ More ]

Under the Water:

Sometimes water was a barrier to transport. In New York the four-track Lexington Avenue tunnel was built under the Harlem River. A trench was excavated in the river bed starting in March 1913, four steel tubes were sunk into the trench, and covered by concrete.....[ More ]

Modern Sewage:

The Passaic River lazily cleared the drains of more than 600,000 people in New Jersey, with the sewage drifting into Newark Bay and New York Bay. One plan was to build the Passaic Valley sewer and pump sewage under Bayonne, New Jersey, and out into a more open area of New York Bay where it could be dispersed into the environment.....[ More ]

New York’s Sewage:

As much water came in to the city, that amount in sewage had to be taken out of the city. There was some alarm at how much sewage ended up by the shores of the city. One thought was build a huge artificial island with settling tanks where the solids could be taken farther out to sea and the liquids could be pumped into the environment.....[ More ]

Deep Tunnel:

In Manhattan the course of pipe for fresh water had to run below a large are of unstable rock under the Lower East Side. The tunnel depth of 750 feet is here compared with the tallest building in the world in 1913, the Woolworth building.....[ More ]

Water Out West:

The Los Angeles Aqueduct was built to carry fresh water—265 million gallons a day—from the Sierra mountains through 234 miles of desert and rocky terrain. Here workmen sit in an 11-foot section of steel pipe.....[ More ]

Planning a Crowded City:

The subway beneath Broadway as it was being built in 1913. The plans called for street traffic, underground railways, and of course, pipes for clean water in and sewage out.....[ More ]

Concrete and Water:

Pipes were built to carry water from the Esopus Reservoir (completed in 1913) in the Catskill Mountains to a thirsty New York City. Concrete was poured around iron forms; when the concrete set, the iron forms were pulled back from the lining and moved up to the next section of the pipe.....[ More ]

Water for New York:

In 1913 the city was adding 140,000 people a year. So great was the need for clean water that a 90-mile system of tunnels and reservoirs was built from the Catskill Mountains to the city.....[ More ]

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