Hiram on the Gila
Maybe it was growing up on a farm in Anaheim, the first town in California to establish a successful irrigation system, that attracted Hiram Clay Kellogg to water projects. Or maybe it was the four post-college years he spent laying out vineyards in Anaheim, where irrigation must certainly have played a key role, before landing his first real engineering job. Or perhaps it was simple economics: Southern California’s agriculture was developing by leaps and bounds, and its low rainfall climate required innovative methods of bringing water to all the oranges, lemons, limes, grapes, olives, apricots, and almonds that were being planted. Agriculture, with its irrigation challenges, turned out to be booming in other areas as well, taking him as far away as Hawaii for several years.
Whatever the reasons, a great deal of Kellogg’s career was devoted to hydraulic engineering. Four of his most noted projects involved the design, construction, and/or repair of dams. This series of articles will provide brief histories of the work he did on these important structures.
The First Dam – Gila Bend
There is little to tell about Clay Kellogg’s first foray into dam construction, so I will include it with this introduction.
In 1893 the Peoria Canal Company built a dam across the Gila River, near the town of Gila Bend in Arizona Territory. (Arizona did not become a state until 1912.) Within the year, floodwaters destroyed some 400 feet of the dam’s structure.
Kellogg was contracted as Chief Construction Engineer for reinforcing and rebuilding the dam. He made improvements to the original design and personally supervised its construction. The project began on January 1, 1894 and was completed by June 30 of the same year.
There is very little documentation available regarding this dam. Heritage Museum’s Kellogg collection contains two pieces of dam-related correspondence directed to Kellogg and a court paper documenting the work and its costs, and finalizing the dam’s transfer to its ultimate owner.
Read the next installment of this series, in which Clay Kellogg travels to Hawaii to work on the largest dam project of his career in One Dam or Two?
McMillan, Jas., Receiver
Report of the Receiver of the Gila Bend Reservoir and Irrigation Co., The Arizona Construction Co. and The Peoria Canal Co.
Herald Electric Print, 1894