ASCE and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER)

Author: Melinda Luna PE

July 2024

The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) was founded in 1969 to record America’s engineering and industrial heritage. HAER documents a wide array of sites, structures, and objects, including transportation systems and infrastructure, industrial buildings and machinery, public utilities, mines, bridges, watercraft, historic vehicles, and even spacecraft. The nation’s engineering legacy is subject to loss from many forces, particularly obsolescence through technological advances, developmental pressures, and changing regulations governing health, environmental concerns, and public safety. HAER issues guidelines to ensure that this legacy is properly recorded in a consistent and accessible manner. HAER was created through an agreement between the National Park Service (NPS), the Library of Congress, and five separate engineering societies, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. HAER representative attends the National History and Heritage Committee meetings (they are invited to monthly and annual meetings) and HAER gives a yearly report of their activities.

General view of dam looking west – Espada Acequia, Diversion Dam, San Antonio River, Military Drive vicinity, San Antonio, Bexar County, TX

In Texas, HAER has documented Bridges, roads, buildings, townsites, sites such as the Johnson Space Center, and railroads to name a few items. The Library of Congress website houses the information and can be found at Search Results: “Texas” – Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (Library of Congress) ( These landmarks can be of existing, or lost places. As documentation of a replaced landmark is a form of preservation.

  • Over its five-decade life, HAER has documented over 10,000 sites and produced more than 115,000 large-format photographs, 105,000 data pages, and 6,000 measured and interpretive drawings.
  • More than 285 Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks, 174 are included in HAER. For example, Espada and San Juan Acequias ) – Acequias of San Antonio, Hildebrand Avenue & Minita Creek, San Antonio, Bexar County, TX
  • HAER and HABS are among the largest and most heavily used collections housed at the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Division.
  • NPS holds annual competitions for the best-measured drawings of HABS/HAER/HALS sites completed by student teams with top prizes of $5,000. This is a great annual event as it provides experience and opportunity for funds for students while documenting landmarks.
Title sheet with area map – Acequias of San Antonio, Hildebrand Avenue & Minita Creek, San Antonio, Bexar County, TX