highlights state engineering landmarks
Engineering Day Nov. 5
New Mexico historic civil engineering landmarks are being featured
in a brochure created by University of New Mexico Civil Engineering
Professor Arup Maji and UNM graduate student Jonathan Lucero
as part of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 150th
of the project is to bring about awareness of the diversity
of work that civil engineers engage in including land surveys,
water resources, bridges and roads.
of the recognition of ASCEs anniversary, Governor Gary
Johnson has declared Nov. 5 Civil Engineers Day.
a road is not as sexy as designing a rocket, but it is what
keeps society moving, says Maji. I think the general
public often takes for granted the contribution of civil engineers
to our everyday lives.
highlighted in the brochure include Elephant Butte Dam, Cumbres
and Toltec Railroad, Embudo Gauging System, International Monument
No. 1 and El Vado Dam.
Butte Dam, located near Truth or Consequences, is the largest
dam in New Mexico.When the dam was completed in 1916 it created
the largest man-made reservoir in the world. The dam was designated
a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American
Society of Civil Engineers in April of 1977 because of a variety
of significant features, one of which is being the first civil
engineering project for the international distribution of water.
and Toltec railroad, built in the late 1870s, encompasses all
the challenging aspects of civil engineering as a mountainous
railroadstructures, geotechnical, transportation, construction
and environmental. In the 1870s, extensive layouts of narrow
gauge railroads were built throughout the Rocky Mountains. Their
original purpose was to transport raw materials, oil, and supplies
to and from hard to reach mining towns. The Cumbres and Toltec
connected Antonito, Colo. to Chama, N.M., with a twisting winding
track that paralleled and crisscrossed deep gorges and ravines.
These towns are only 50 miles apart, but the track was nearly
75 miles long.
word for funnel, Embudo, well describes the cactus and pinon
clad foothills that direct the flow of the Rio Grande. In 1888,
Embudo, a small village near the Rio Grande in Northern New
Mexico, was chosen to be the site of a new training area for
the first hydrographers of the Irrigation Survey. John Wesley
Powell, who became the second director of the U.S. Geological
Survey in 1881, had conceived the need for a federally conducted
irrigation survey in the late 1870s. Powell noted the need to
take an inventory of the flow of all streams in the arid region
to be able to evaluate their potential. His ideas stimulated
funding for the Embudo Gauging Project.
west bank of the Rio Grande, between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico,
sits a rather modest looking stone monument, merely 12
high and 5 square at the base. It marks the spot where
New Mexico, Texas and Mexico meet at a common point. For more
than a century and a half the monument has stood as a symbol
of stability through periods of great territorial disputes.
The history of International Monument No. 1 lies in the battles
of establishing the border between Mexico and the United States.
The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 established
a joint boundary commission, and required that a monument be
established at the easternmost boundary between the United States
and Mexico. Sealed within the monument today are the papers
signed by the then boundary commissioners from Mexico and the
65 years of operation, the El Vado dam has played an important
role in the success of irrigated agriculture of central New
Mexico, including the availability of water supply in Albuquerque.
The dam is located on the Chama river, about 30 miles south
of the town of Chama, in Northern New Mexico. It was the key
element of the 1928 plan of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy
District for flood control, irrigation and drainage. The dam
was completed in 1935, and rehabilitated in 1953-54. The outlet
was enlarged in 1965-66 to accommodate the additional flows
of the San Juan- Chama project. El Vado dam is a rare example
of the extensive use of steel in dam construction.
New Mexico section received a small grant from the national
ASCE to produce the brochures. The information was gathered
from a large collection of material, some in bits and pieces.
said one of the most significant aspect of the project was selecting
a small amount of pertinent information from a box full of articles
and pictures from decades ago.
landmarks were selected by the national board of ASCE as national
Civil Engineering landmarks, Maji said. Individual
states are allowed to submit potential candidates to be acknowledged
work by civil engineers is extremely important to keep the society
find it enormously gratifying that something as complex as the
big-I gets built ahead of schedule and within budget,