Scope and Content
Title: Hiram N. Savage papers,
Date (inclusive): 1905-1933
Collection number: SAVAGE
Savage, Hiram Newton, 1861-1934
Extent: ca. 5.5 linear ft. (14 boxes)
Water Resources Collections and Archives
Shelf location: Water Resources Collections and Archives.
This collection was given to the Water Resources Collections and Archives by Paul
Beerman, San Diego City Hydraulic Engineer, in January 1963.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Water Resources Collections and Archives. All
requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing
to the Head of Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Water
Resources Collections and Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the
[Identification of item], Hiram N. Savage papers, SAVAGE, Water Resources Collections
and Archives, University of California, Riverside.
Scope and Content
Reports, papers, maps and photographs covering early U.S. Reclamation Service projects and
water resources development projects throughout San Diego County.
Water resources development -- California -- San Diego County
Reclamation of land -- California -- San Diego County
Water-supply -- California -- San Diego County
Dams -- California -- San Diego County
Waterworks -- California, Southern
Reclamation Service (U.S.)
San Diego River Project (Calif.)
San Dieguito Project (Calif.)
Lower Otay Dam (Calif.)
Barrett Dam (Calif.)
El Capitan Dam (Calif.)
Morena Dam (Calif.)
Sweetwater Dam (Calif.)
HIRAM NEWTON SAVAGE, M. Am. Soc. C. E.
Died June 24,
Hiram Newton Savage was born in Lancaster, N. H., on October 6, 1861, the son of Hazen
Nelson and Laura Ann (Newton) Savage. He was the son of a farmer. After his public school
education, Mr. Savage worked his way through the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and
the Mechanic Arts, at Durham, N. H., from which he was graduated in 1887, with the degree of
Bachelor of Science. In 1891, he was graduated from the Thayer School of Civil Engineering,
of Dartmouth College, with the degree of Civil Engineer. In 1913, the University of New
Hampshire conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
In 1888, Mr. Savage was Assistant Engineer, and, later, Resident Engineer, of the East
Tennessee and Georgia Railway, the Nashville and Tellico Railway, and the Athens (Tenn.)
Improvement Company. From May to July, 1889, he served as Assistant Engineer of the
Hydraulic Mining Company, in the San Pedro Mining District, New Mexico, and from July, 1889,
to April, 1890, he was Chief Engineer of that Company and of the Rio Grande Water Company,
in New Mexico, in charge of a survey of the Ortiz, San Pedro, and Tejon Grants, embracing
100 000 acres; placer-mine prospecting and locations; ditch location and construction; and
preliminary location and estimate for a pipe line, 58 miles in length. From April to
September, 1890, he was Engineer of
, White River Junction, Vermont. In September of that year he located an
extension of the sewerage system of West Randolph, Vt.
After his graduation from the Thayer School of Civil Engineering in 1891, Mr. Savage went
to Southern California, and was employed by the San Diego Land and Town Company, of National
City, Calif., as Chief Engineer, in charge of the construction of the Sweetwater Dam and
Distribution System that was to be used to furnish irrigation and domestic supply. His work
included the construction and reconstruction, operation, and maintenance of the System; the
partition and subdivision of 40 000 acres of land; the location, construction, and
maintenance of the National City and Otay Railway; and the construction of Sweetwater Park
and Race Track, at National City.
In 1895, Mr. Savage became Consulting Engineer to the Southern California Mountain Water
Company, in connection with the Morena, Upper Otay, and Lower Otay Dams, and the
water-carrying system to San Diego, Calif.
From 1898 to 1903, he was Consulting Engineer for the San Diego and Cuyamaca Railway
Company, the San Diego and La Jolla Railway Company, the Coronado Beach Railway Company, the
Cuyamaca Water Company, and for the Contractor for the Zuninga Shoals Jetty, in San Diego
Harbor, a Government project.
In 1903, Mr. Savage was appointed Consulting Engineer in the United States Reclamation
Service, the organization of which had been begun the preceding year, and, from 1905 to
1915, he was Supervising Engineer of the Northern Division of that Service, including the
States of Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The District included eleven primary projects:
The Huntley, Lower Yellowstone, Sun River, Milk River, St. Mary (storage), Flathead
(Indian), Blackfeet (Indian), and Fort Peck (Indian) Projects, in Montana; the Williston and
Buford-Trenton Projects, in North Dakota; and the Shoshone Project, in Wyoming; all of which
were under construction and operation within the period of his service. He also investigated
the irrigation possibilities for about ten secondary projects, with a view to their
construction when and if funds were made available. Among the many important structures
built on the primary projects were the Shoshone Dam, a concrete arch, 328 ft in height above
the foundation, then the highest dam in the world, and the Corbett Tunnel, 11 ft in diameter
and 3 miles long. In addition to his work in the Northern Division of the Reclamation
Service, Mr. Savage at times served on Consulting Boards relative to the work in other
He resigned from the U. S. Reclamation Service in 1915 and, in 1916, became Consulting and
Supervising Engineer for the Sweetwater Water Company of California, engaged on the
reconstruction and enlargement of the Sweetwater Dam, the spillway and abutments of which
had been damaged by the record flood of 1916.
From 1917 to 1923, Mr. Savage was Hydraulic Engineer for the City of San Diego, Calif. He
supervised the design and construction of the Barrett and the new Lower Otay Dams, the
enlargement and reconstruction of Morena Dam and Spillway, and the extensions to the City's
rapid sand filtration plants. During this period, he compiled all known hydrographic and
climatological data for San Diego County, made estimates of the future water requirements
for the City of San Diego and vicinity, investigated available water resources, and made a
plan of future water development for the city and its environs, together with plans and
estimates for the dams, reservoirs, carrying systems, and purification plants necessary for
accomplishing this program. He made filings of water appropriations and intiated proceedings
for the acquisition of the necessary rights of way. Notwithstanding the excellent and
valuable work done by Mr. Savage during this engagement, his relations with the City
Government of San Diego were not at all agreeable. The City Council was composed largely of
politicians, who had little appreciation of his work, and whose actions were governed by
political motives, rather than the good of the community. Finally, when attending a meeting
of the hostile City Council, he was subjected to a tirade of criticism and abuse, and was
informed that his services were terminated. Much to the chagrin of his opponents, who had
expected a retort in kind, he replied calmly
very well, and with sedate dignity withdrew from the Council Chamber.
In 1923 and 1924, Mr. Savage made a trip around the world, visiting nineteen foreign
countries, including Italy, Egypt, the Sudan, the Holy Land, Java, the Philippine Islands,
China, and Japan. A second tour was made in 1924 and 1925. On this tour, he visited Hawaii
and twenty foreign countries, including the South Sea Islands, New Zealand, Australia, the
Philippine Islands, and India, where he explored the Ganges and Indus River Systems. He
visited also Mesopotamia, where he reported to both King Feisal and to the British
officials, on the irrigation and drainage requirements for the Government irrigation system
at Irak. He traveled overland across the Holy Land, and reported on Zion and National Home
movements; inspected the drainage basin in Egypt and the Sudan, traveling southward in
Equatorial Africa more than 5 000 miles by railways, water routes, and overland on foot,
conveyed by a force of negro porters. He went into Abyssinia, through the Sudan to the
Belgian Congo, continuing through Uganda and across Lakes Albert Nyanza, Kioga, and Victoria
Nyanza, to the head-waters of the Nile. Continuing southerly he went through Kenya,
via Nairobi and Tanganyika, to Zanzibar and the Indian Oceau,
thence returning by way of the Red Sea to Cairo, where he reported to the late King Fuad I,
of Egypt, and to the Government officials of the Sudan, Egypt, and the British Empire, on
the irrigation requirements of Egypt and the Sudan, on the water resources and on the
control of the Nile, with recommendations to construct a third dam on the Nile at Nag
Hamadi, and to increase the height of the Assuan Dam sufficiently to double the present
In 1925 and 1926, Mr. Savage inspected twenty-five National, State, and Corporate
irrigation projects, in the western part of the United States and in Alberta, Canada,
reporting to President Calvin Coolidge on their administrative, technical, social, and
economic conditions and requirements.
In 1926 and 1927, he made a tour of inspection of the majority of the Latin-American
Republics in the West Indies, Central America, and South America, going from New York, N.
Y., to the West Indies, thence to Central America, through the Panama Canal, along the West
Coast of South America, by the Transandine Railway, from Valparaiso, Chile, to Buenos Aires,
Argentine Republic, and thence back to New York. Several trips were made into the Andes
Mountains. From Buenos Aires he made a trip inland of more than 1 800 miles. From Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, a trip was made into the interior of Brazil, to and down the Alta Parana
River, one of the principal tributaries of the Rio de la Plata. On this tour, studies were
made of the natural resources of the several countries, with reference to the feasibility of
their development and utilization.
In 1927, Mr. Savage again made inspections of the principal irrigation projects in Western
United States, reporting thereon to President Coolidge. He also inspected irrigation and
hydro-electric projects in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
In 1927 and 1928, he made a third trip around the world, visiting Latin-American Republics
of South America, thence across South America by the Transandine Railway, across the
Atlantic, traveling 4 000 miles in South Africa, from Cape Town to the Belgian Congo,
continuing to Mozambique, Tanganyika, and Kenya, across the Indian Ocean, and to the
interior of Northeast India, thence to Arabia, Egypt, and the controlling works of the Nile.
From here, he went to the Holy Land, thence over Asia Minor to the Black Sea, continuing
through Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and France to England and Scotland. In these
latter countries, he inspected the water supply and work at Manchester, the combined water
supply project of Manchester and Liverpool, and the water supply of Glasgow, returning by
way of Ireland, thence across the Atlantic to Canada and the United States.
For a time Mr. Savage was associated with Research Service, Inc., of Washington, D. C.
After five years of fruitless endeavor by the City of San Diego, to make some progress in
the development of its water resources, within which time the Sutherland Dam was begun and
later abandoned, the citizens had become so insistent in demanding the return of Mr. Savage
that the City Council deemed it necessary to comply with their demands; accordingly, on July
2, 1928, he again took charge of the Municipal Bureau of Water Development, Operation, and
Maintenance. From this time until his death he served the City with zeal and untiring
energy. Even during his last sickness, he insisted on being informed daily regarding the
progress of the work under his charge.
During this last engagement negotiations and acquisitions of rights of way and water rights
progressed as rapidly as economically possible. Arrangement with the Federal Government was
made relative to securing, when needed, an additional supply of water from the Colorado
River, and plans were developed for works for the conveyance of this supply. The El Capitan
Dam was constructed giving the city an additional supply of 10 000 000 gal per day.
Throughout his life Mr. Savage had an uncanny knowledge of human nature and exemplified
great fortitude in overcoming obstacles and in pushing work. His ability to find the
ulterior motive, together with his
unquestioned honesty of purpose and integrity, made him loved by his friends and hated by
those who opposed him.
His motto was
the most good for the greatest
number throughout the longest time
. Stoical as an Indian, he was never swerved by
praise or criticism.
In recognition of the valuable work he had done for the City of San Diego in the
development of its water supply, the City Council on July 9, 1934, changed the name of Lower
Otay Dam to Savage Dam.
His foresight and ability to anticipate future needs and plan accordingly were remarkable.
Sweetwater, Barrett, Morena, El Capitan, and Savage Dams, which will serve the inhabitants
of the San Diego area for ages to come, will stand as monuments to his ability as a man and
as an engineer.
Mr. Savage was married in December, 1891, to Linna Bell Clough, of New Hampshire, who died
in October, 1897. Two daughters were born to them, Lucy Eunice (Mrs. Robert L. Colthart) and
Laura Ada (Mrs. Lawrence W. Hoppe). In 1927, Mr. Savage was married to Eugenia Hurlock, of
Maryland, who, with his daughters, survives him.
He was a member of the University Club and the Rotary Club of San Diego. He was also a
member of the Masonic Order.
Mr. Savage was elected an Associate Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers on
March 7, 1894, and a Member on October 7, 1896.
American Society of Civil Engineers, Memoir (749)
Memoir prepared by Charles P. Williams, M. Am. Soc. C. E.
References are to item numbers. Organizations, structures, and places are in California
unless otherwise noted.
Arizona v. California
Big Bear Valley Dam
Big Creek Project
Blackfeet Project, Mont.
Boise Project, Idaho-Ore.
Boulder Canyon Project
California Water and Power Act
Central Valley Project
Colorado River Aqueduct
Coolidge Dam, Ariz.
Cuyamaca Water Co.
see also names of specific dams.
Don Pedro Reservoir
East Bay Municipal Utility District
El Capitan Dam
Elephant Butte Dam, N.M.
Escondido Mutual Water Company
Flathead Project, Mont.
Fort Peck Project, Mont.
Freeman, John R.
Hetch Hetchy Project
Huntley Project, Mont.
La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley Irrigation District
Los Angeles Aqueduct
Los Angeles (City), Department of Water and Power
Mick River Project, Mont.
Minidoka Project, Idaho
Mokelumne River Project
North Platte Project
Rio Grande Project, N.M.-Tex.
San Diego Flume Company
San Diego River
San Dieguito River
San Luis Rey River
Santa Barbara Board of Water Commissioners
Seminoe Dam, Wyo.
Shoshone Project, Wyo.
Southern California Edison Company
Southern California Mountain Water Company
Sukkur Barrage Project
Sun River Project, Mont.
Tia Juana, Mexico
U.S. Reclamation Service
Upper Salmon Falls Power Project, Idaho
Volcan Land and Water Company
Identifier/Call Number: WRCA MS 76/16
Identifier/Call Number: WRCA MS 76/9