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A Brief History of the Texas Section

The organization now known as the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) was started in July of 1913 by a group of seven engineers after a Texas Good Roads meeting in Corpus Christi. They reconvened at the North Beach (Breakers) Hotel with a plentiful supply of beer to discuss how to set up such an organization. This group consisted of Terrell Bartlett, San Antonio; John B. Hawley, Fort Worth; J. Milton Howe, Houston; Robert J. Potts, College Station; James C. Nagle, College Station; Julian C. Feild, Denison; and J. F. Witt, Dallas. Most of these men were members of ASCE. At least three State or Urban associations of members of ASCE had been formed in previous years and five were formed during 1913. The Texas organizers were mostly consulting engineers but included a couple of college professors. Following the meeting in Corpus Christi, invitations were sent out announcing a Texas meeting to be held during the State Fair of Texas in late October. Charlie Davis of Fort Worth got information about forming a group from ASCE while on a trip to New York City. A meeting to formalize the organization was held in the Old Red Court House in Dallas on October 31, 1913. J. C. Nagle was elected the first president and J. F. Witt was elected secretary.

Fall 1923 Meeting Attendees - HoustonSince the 1913 beginning, two meetings were held each year with formal technical presentations as well as Section business being conducted. The early meetings had a small number in attendance but did have considerable discussion of the papers presented. Strong technical presentations continued to be a hallmark of the Section's meetings for 100 years; nearly eighty papers were presented at a later meeting. Outstanding papers were printed in the Texas Civil Engineer in the early years and beginning in 1994 all papers have been published as Proceedings of each bi-annual meeting, including written discussions of presented papers, and the Proceedings were subsequently produced electronically on CDs or posted on this website. Starting in 2014 the Texas Section has moved to an annual conference format held in the fall with a student-centered symposium in the spring. Past Texas Section Meetings are listed here.

The Texas Section of ASCE celebrated its centennial in 2013 with a year-long, state-wide effort that included the gathering of local proclamations, the roll-out of the 3rd update of the Texas Infrastructure Report Card, monthly webinars, a set of banners for each of the branches to use in public displays, a revised historical marker in the North Beach area of Corpus Christi marking the place where the Section was first envisioned, oral histories from the living past presidents and other leaders, and a compilation of projects and people in a comprehensive history book on the Section's first one hundred years. ASCE members returned to the dual birth places - Corpus Christi in the spring and Dallas in the fall - to commemorate the founders and the efforts of all ASCE Texas Section members over the many years. Visit our YouTube Channel to see the personal recollections about ASCE Texas Section.

 

The office for the Texas Section was initially at a consulting engineer's offices. Later the various universities in Texas were able to provide office space and a faculty member served as secretary to the Section. The office was moved to Austin and a full time paid staff was established in 1989. The first branch was formed in Dallas in 1924. Other branches followed in Fort Worth, Brazos and the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the last part of the 1930's. Seven branches were formed in the early 1950's. Five members of the Texas Section have served as president of the national organization and nine have served as vice-president.

  

 

Updated 9/4/14

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