ASCE Landmark Replicas in Texas
by Melinda Luna PE, Chair, History & Heritage Committee
All across Texas, you can find roadside attractions, such as giant pecans, roadrunners, cowboys, and also replicas of civil engineering landmarks. Three key replicas to visit include the Highland Lake Dams, Statue of Liberty, and the Eiffel Tower.
In the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Redbud Center, you can see a replica of the Highland Lakes, displaying Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and Lake Austin. Though not exact, this replica represents how the lakes work together to provide water supply, recreation, and hydroelectric power to the area. The LCRA Redbud Center, located in Austin, Texas at 3601 Lake Austin Boulevard is open to the public for self-guided tours and you can sign up for scheduled field trips with the Colorado River Alliance. The center also includes other information, such as history of the area, watershed attributes, water cycle, and water conservation methods. Visitors can even view the Tom Miller Dam and a river stream gauge. The Highland Lakes were designated as an ASCE Texas Section Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 2000.
Did you know that Texas is also home to a replica of the Statue of Liberty, located in Big Spring? This replica can be found in front of the Big Spring Municipal Auditorium at 310 East 3rd Street. It was purchased by local ranchers, the Good family, and given to the Boy Scouts of America to honor the memory of their son Jake Good in 1950. The Good family wanted people to see the symbol of liberty as they drove down what is now Business IH 20 and remember the democratic way of life. The replica is only 100 inches tall and placed on a stone platform. At the time of the Boy Scouts of America’s 40th Anniversary, 200 replicas were made and sold as part of the celebration, which was themed “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty.” Sixty-nine years later, approximately 100 of these replicas can be found. Currently, the original replica is undergoing a refinishing to help it last another 69 years. The original statue of liberty is one of the best-known monuments in the world. It is an ASCE Historical Civil Engineering Landmark, dedicated in 1987.
Another civil engineering landmark replica is of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas. The replica was built in October 1995 by Boilermakers Local 902, a local welders union. They enlisted the help of an engineer named David Dickey. The tower was constructed in three sections at Bacbock & Wilcox Company and transported to the final site for assembly. In order to transport the three sections, they had to be placed on a concrete pad donated by Coston & Sons, Buster Concrete, and Stephen and Sons Concrete Contractors. A crane lifted the pieces, and it took 78 people approximately 1,000 hours of work to accomplish the landmark replica. To add a little local flair, the city added a red cowboy hat to the top in 1998. The tower is 70 feet tall including the 10-foot cowboy hat. This replica can now be found by the Love Civic Center at 2025 South Collegiate Drive in Paris, Texas. The Eiffel Tower replica is used in advertisement for the City, a lighted Christmas celebration attraction, and is also the site of a number of wedding proposals and other celebrations. The original tower is an ASCE Historical Civil Engineering Landmark.
The Eiffel Tower wasn’t the first civil engineering replica in Paris, Texas. Back in 1990, a retired Oregon lumberman named Herb Gifford donated a timber replica that was erected in Dragon Park on the campus of Paris Junior College. This replica was made out of pine and stood 45 feet tall. However, the attraction was lost in a storm.
If you don’t get a chance to see these replicas in-person, some of them can be seen in an aerial image on Google Maps, and some can even be seen in Google Maps Street View.
The replicas in this article represent actual civil engineering projects that have received an ASCE Historical Civil Engineering Landmark (HCEL) designation. If you have any suggestions for new ASCE HCEL designations, visit: https://www.asce.org/landmark-program/ and contact Melinda Luna PE at [email protected]. Like the replicas, landmarks increase public appreciation of civil engineering contributions and provide a way to make the general public aware of how civil engineers impact everyone’s everyday life.