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Finding aid to the William W. Helbush collection of water project records, 1905-1947, MS 980
MS 980  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • System of Arrangement
  • Processing Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Indexing Terms

  • Title: William W. Helbush collection of water project records
    Date: 1905-1947
    Collection Identifier: MS 980
    Creator: Helbush, William W.
    Extent: 20 boxes and 3 oversize boxes (11.5 linear feet)
    Contributing Institution: California Historical Society
    678 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94105-4014
    (415) 357-1848
    reference@calhist.org
    URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/
    Location of Materials: Collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
    Abstract: The collection consists of primary and secondary source materials collected by William Helbush in his position as engineer for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. The collection contains project records, including reports, contracts, notes, specifications, plans, blueprints, and site photographs, as well as administrative records, financial records, and reference material related to the design and construction of various water projects, most notably the Hetch Hetchy water supply project, the enlargement of O'Shaughnessy Dam, and the Richmond-Sunset sewage treatment plant and reservoir for the San Francisco Water Department. Many of the records collected by Helbush were created by or for Michael M. O'Shaughnessy, City Engineer for San Francisco and Chief Engineer of the Hetch Hetchy Project; and Ray L. Allin and Paul J. Ost, engineers for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. A small number of Helbush's personal papers can be found in the collection.

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William W. Helbush collection of water project records, MS 980, California Historical Society.

    System of Arrangement

    The collection is arranged into three series: 1) Hetch Hetchy water supply project records; 2) Other water project records; and 3) Research and reference materials. Other water project records (Series 2) contain records for water projects other than Hetch Hetchy.

    Processing Information

    The collection was reprocessed by Frances W. Kaplan in 2012.

    Historical Note

    William W. Helbush (circa 1895-1965) served as an engineer for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. During the 1930s he worked on the Hetch Hetchy project (1914-1934) and the enlargement of O'Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite Valley (1934-1938). Among his known accomplishments was the design of the radial gates of the new spillway at the south abutment of O’Shaughnessy Dam. Helbush collected reference materials, notes, and records for a number of water projects, but the extent of his role in the plan and design of projects represented in the collection is unknown.
    The Hetch Hetchy water supply and hydroelectric power system is a gravity driven network of dams, reservoirs, railroads, aqueducts, pipelines, power plants, and tunnels that delivers drinking water from Yosemite National Park to San Francisco and the Bay Area. Hetch Hetchy Valley and the Tuolumne River had been recommended as a water source for the City of San Francisco as early as a 1901, but it was not until the Raker Act of 1913 that the City of San Francisco was granted the right to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley as a reservoir and use public lands to construct projects necessary for the development of a water and power supply system from the Sierras to San Franciso. Started in 1914 and completed in 1934, the Hetch Hetchy project succeeded in providing water to people in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, and San Mateo counties. Since then, the Hetch Hetchy water supply system has undergone various upgrades, replacements, additions, and seismic retrofits.
    Administration of San Francisco’s water supply system has been governed by various corporate and municipal bodies. In 1900 the San Francisco Department of Public Works, called the Board of Public Works, was created and charged with studying possible ways to supply San Francisco with drinking water. In 1930 San Francisco purchased the Spring Valley Water Company, a private enterprise that had been supplying water to San Francisco since 1858. The San Francisco Water Department was then formed under the Board of Public Works. In 1932, the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco created the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). The SFPUC was responsible for the construction, management, supervision, operation, and control of all public utilities that served the City and County of San Francisco and its inhabitants. Upon its completion in 1934, the Hetch Hetchy project, formerly an independent department under the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, became part of the San Francisco Water Department.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection consists of primary and secondary source materials collected by William (Bill) Helbush in his position as engineer for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. The collection contains project records, including reports, contracts, notes, specifications, plans, blueprints, and site photographs, as well as administrative records, financial records, and reference material related to the design and construction of various water projects, notably the Hetch Hetchy water supply project, the enlargement of O'Shaughnessy Dam, and the Richmond-Sunset sewage treatment plant and reservoir for the San Francisco Water Department. A small number of Helbush's personal papers can be found in the collection.
    The bulk of the collection comprises engineering records and blueprints related to the design, plan, and construction of the Hetch Hetchy water supply system, a massive public works project undertaken by the City of San Francisco. Consisting of a series of dams, tunnels, railroads, and powerhouses, the Hetch Hetchy project (1914-1934) provided the city and its surrounding areas with a longterm water supply. The collection also includes records and blueprints for the enlargement of O’Shaughnessy Dam (1934-1938), a renovation project funded in part by the Public Works Administration that raised O'Shaughnessy Dam by eighty-six feet.
    Other records in the collection relate to water and power projects both within the United States and overseas. These include the Bucks Creek power house in Feather River Canyon, California; Moffat Tunnel in Colorado; the Mokelumne River power development for the City of Lodi, California; Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) on the Colorado River; and Madden Dam in Panama. Reference materials collected by Helbush include engineering manuals, handbooks, catalogs, articles, and bulletins.
    Many of the records collected by Helbush were created by or for Michael M. O'Shaughnessy, City Engineer for San Francisco and Chief Engineer of the Hetch Hetchy Project; and Ray L. Allin and Paul J. Ost, engineers for the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog:
    Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (Calif.)
    Water-supply--California--San Francisco.
    Dams--Design and construction.
    Municipal engineering--California--San Francisco.
    Civil engineers--California--San Francisco.
    Helbush, William W.
    O'Shaughnessy, M. M. (Michael Maurice), 1864-1934.
    Allin, Ray L.
    Ost, Paul J.
    San Francisco (Calif.). Water Dept.
    San Francisco (Calif.). Dept. of Public Works .
    San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
    Blueprints.
    Contract documents.
    Contract drawings.
    Engineering drawings.