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The Headwaters District: A History of the Pittsburgh District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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This is a history of the Engineers in the headwaters district--military and civilian. By authority of Congress, the Army Engineers began the task of taming the waters of the Ohio River Basin in 1824. Many of their accomplishments were achieved by trial and error, since the problems that they were asked to solve had never been faced before. I think it appropriate to paraphrase a statement from an individual who, at one time, served the District with considerable distinction. His comment was used in a much narrower context, but I feel sure the reader can sense its applicability to much of the action in this history. The course of history never changes instantaneously. Nevertheless, sometimes there appears to be accelerated periods of transition. The decade of the 1970s may have been one of those periods for the Pittsburgh District. Modernization of navigation facilities on the Ohio River eliminated the last of the wicket dams. The flood control reservoir system was thoroughly tested by Tropical Storm Agnes. Flood plain management was becoming an increasingly important factor in consideration of flood damage prevention. And in a surge of development of recreation facilities, the District took on the task of environmental education directed to school children. The third century of Engineer activity in the headwaters district must include involvement with the delicate balance between energy demands and environmental protection. Maintenance, repair and replacement of navigation and flood control structures will still be necessary, but attention of the headwaters Engineers may well be directed to additional fields of major importance. A prime concern will be water availability, whether it be for the usage of an increasingly urbanized population or for production of power, - hydroelectric, nuclear, or created by synthesis of fossil fuels. Based on the records of the past, the Engineers of the Pittsburgh District will meet the challenges of the future.

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  • Hydrology, Limnology and Potamology
  • Civil Engineering

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