Title: E.E. Blackie & Fred H. Tibbetts Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1910-1940
Collection number: MS 76/8
Blackie, E. E.
Tibbetts, Frederick Horace, 1882-1938
Extent: 10 linear ft. (20 boxes)
Water Resources Collections and Archives
Shelf location: This collection is stored off-campus at NRLF. Please contact the Water Resources Collections and Archives staff for access
to the materials.
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
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imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], E.E. Blackie & Fred H. Tibbetts Papers, MS 76/8, Water Resources Collections and Archives, University
of California, Riverside.
Nevada Irrigation District
Water resources development -- California
Water-supply -- California -- Sacramento Valley
Irrigation -- California
Reclamation of land -- California
Flood control -- California
Blackie and Wood (Firm)
Haviland and Tibbetts (Firm)
Haviland, Dozier and Tibbetts (Firm)
This collection of engineering reports on water development in California was given to the Water Resources Collections and
Archives by E.E. Blackie at the time of his retirement in June 1973. The engineering firm of Blackie and Wood, San Francisco,
was the final partnership in a series of professional partnerships which begin in 1909 under the firm name of Haviland and
The bulk of the collection represents the work of Fred H. Tibbetts. Blackie had assumed control of the Tibbetts engineering
firm at the death of Tibbetts in 1938.
Subjects covered in the collection include irrigation, reclamation, and flood control projects. While most of Tibbetts' most
important work was done in the Sacramento Valley, the material which came to the University of California does not include
files on some of the major projects in this area. These presumably were kept in the district offices. Neither does the collection
include files on the work done for the Santa Clara Valley Water Conservation District.
An index is supplied.
Materials in this collection cannot be loaned but photocopy services are available on the campus.
FREDERICK HORACE TIBBETTS, M. Am. Soc. C. E.
Memoir prepared by Ralph G. Wadsworth, M. Am. Soc. C. E.
DIED AUGUST 2, 1938
Fred H. Tibbetts will probably be best remembered for his extensive flood-control, reclamation, and irrigation work in the
Sacramento Valley and his highly successful water-conservation project in the Santa Clara Valley. However, his field of activity
during a period of some thirty years of engineering practice extended well beyond the limits of the State of California, and
embraced many of the varied branches of the profession. Few engineers in the history of California have contributed so extensively
to the development of its agricultural lands and the control and conservation of its waters.
Frederick Horace Tibbetts, the elder of the two sons of Horace Albert and Manda (Arnold) Tibbetts, was born at Oshkosh, Wis.,
on April 28, 1882. The family moved west when he was ten years old and settled in Santa Clara County, California. He attended
the College of the Pacific, then at San José, Calif., and received his degree of Bachelor of Science in 1903. He continued
his studies during the following three and one half years at the University of California, at Berkeley, Calif., receiving
a degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1904, and a degree of Master of Science in 1907. In the meantime,
he had received a degree of Master of Science from the College of the Pacific in 1905.
While doing his graduate work at the University of California, he also served on the faculty as an assistant in civil engineering
in the fall of 1904 and again in the academic year 1906-1907. In 1905 and the spring of 1906, he was an instructor in mechanics
at the California School of Mechanical Arts in San Francisco. In August, 1907, he was appointed instructor in civil engineering
at the University of California, and in July, 1909, became an associate professor, which position he held until 1911. He was
elected to membership in three scholarship fraternities: Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Iota Phi.
Mr. Tibbetts' active professional work commenced immediately after he received his first college degree and continued concurrently
with his advanced studies and his teaching. Early engagements included surveys in Santa Clara and Alameda counties (1903),
irrigation and drainage investigations (1904), and well measurements and surveys (1905). From 1906 to 1909 he was in charge
of artesian investigations in Livermore Valley and the Pleasanton Reclamation Project.
In 1909, Mr. Tibbetts entered into a partnership with Perry A. Haviland, county surveyor of Alameda County, which lasted for
nine years. The firm operated under the name of Haviland and Tibbetts, except in 1913 and 1914, during which period the name
was changed to Haviland, Dozier and Tibbetts. The firm designed and supervised the construction of a wide variety of projects
throughout central and northern California. During this period, Mr. Tibbetts was in charge of reports, estimates, designs,
and supervision of construction of sewage systems and sewage disposal works for numerous cities and towns. He also handled
designs, estimates, and reports on extensive harbor improvements at Richmond and South San Francisco, a highway system in
Santa Barbara County, a filtered water supply for the City of Richmond, and all of the larger reclamation projects in Yolo
Basin lying west of the Sacramento River above and below the City of Sacramento. The latter projects, particularly Reclamation
Districts Nos. 900 and 999, which Mr. Tibbetts designed and in part supervised, included massive levees, drainage canals,
and pumping plants. He also supervised extensive improvements of a similar nature in Reclamation District No. 70 in the upper
part of Sutter Basin.
In November, 1912, Mr. Tibbetts submitted (on behalf of the firm of Haviland and Tibbetts from a branch office which had been
opened in San Franciso) a report on the Knights Landing Ridge Cut, which had a major influence on the reclamation of the upper
part of the Sacramento Valley. The cut, which forms an artificial outlet for flood waters in Colusa Basin, was sufficiently
completed to be of immense benefit during the great 1915 flood. The project required more than 3,000,000 cu yd of excavation
and the construction of highway and railroad bridges and various other structures. This work was followed immediately by the
construction of major flood-protection levees and drainage systems in Colusa Basin, including particularly the construction
of 50 miles of river levee between Knights Landing and Colusa.
In 1918, the firm of Haviland and Tibbetts was dissolved because of Mr. Haviland's ill health, and Mr. Tibbetts took over
the San Francisco office under his own name. He continued as chief engineer of the Colusa Basin projects, previously undertaken
for Reclamation District No. 108, the Sacramento River West Side Levee District, and the Knights Landing Ridge Drainage District.
These three districts, which overlapped in part, provided complete flood protection for more than 100,000 acres of land which
had been subject to frequent flooding by both river overflow and foothill drainage. In addition, Reclamation District No.
108 provided a complete drainage system and five separate irrigation systems for its 58,000 acres.
Mr. Tibbetts also became chief engineer of four additional large reclamation districts; two important water conservation districts;
seven irrigation districts, including the two largest ones in the Sacramento Valley; two large land development companies;
and a hydroelectric power company at Anchorage, Alaska. For all of these projects, and numerous other smaller ones, he prepared
reports, estimates, and designs, and actively supervised construction, performed usually by contract, but in a few instances
by force account. Included among the projects were several of the largest gravity intakes and pumping plants on the Sacramento
River: the first wood screw pumps in California; irrigation and drainage canals with capacities to 1,500 cu ft per see, constructed
with floating dredges; levees built by the world's largest clamshell dredges, and others built with suction dredges; two steam-electric
generating plants; the first modern rock-fill dam in California, 160 ft high; five concrete arch dams; seven earth-fill dams;
and innumerable incidental structures such as bridges, headgates, siphons, flumes, roads, etc.
Among the various irrigation projects, two were particularly outstanding for their magnitude, their comprehensive planning,
and their widespread public benefit. The Nevada Irrigation District in Nevada County, California, developed a water supply
by diversion and storage at high elevation in the mountains and made a long-term contract for sale of the energy content of
the falling water on such a basis as to amortize the full cost of the mountain works, thereby giving the agricultural lands
at lower elevation what amounted to a free water supply. The mountain works included a 4-mile diversion tunnel, 85,000 acre-ft
of storage, and an 11-mile conduit in rough terrain which required numerous flumes and tunnels. The irrigation distribution
system included two large concrete diversion dams as well as many miles of canals
and numerous structures. Total construction costs amounted to about $7,000,000.
The second outstanding irrigation project was one undertaken for the Santa Clara Valley Water Conservation District for the
purpose of replenishing the underground water supply. The district, largely planted to orchards, was irrigated almost entirely
by pumping from wells and, to 1934, the ground-water table had been dropping continuously at the rate of about 5 ft per yr
until some of the pumping lifts were in excess of 200 ft. This condition was remedied by the construction of six detention
reservoirs in the foothills and various regulating and distributing works in stream beds designed to retard runoff and induce
percolation into the underground storage basin. A definite rise of the ground-water level has been experienced since completion
of this work. The total cost of this project was about $3,000,000.
In addition to his engagements as engineer in complete charge of construction projects, Mr. Tibbetts was also employed as
a consultant by many public and private agencies, including two irrigation districts in Nevada, a water conservation district
in Arizona, four California cities, several land development companies and contracting firms, and numerous individuals and
organizations. His services in connection with these engagements covered a wide variety of activities, including design of
dams, investigation of water supplies, both surface and underground, subdivisions, irrigation systems, sewage disposal plans,
habor studies, water-works appraisals, and expert court testimony in water rights and other litigation. He made an extensive
appraisal of the water rights and physical works of Miller and Lux, Inc., and the San Joaquin and Kings River Canal Company,
and appraised the lands flooded by the Pardee Dam of the East Bay Municipal Utility District. He designed the Hogan flood-control
dam on the Calaveras River for the City of Stockton, Calif. He directed final construction work for the contractors on the
Wawona tunnel in Yosemite Valley and advised other contractors on tunnel problems. He was employed by the State Department
of Public Works as a consultant on the Sacramento Valley unit of the Statewide Water Plan.
In spite of his very active professional practice, Mr. Tibbetts found time for many civic and fraternal duties. He was chairman
of the Irrigation Section of the Commonwealth Club of California for three years (1925-1927), and was an occasional speaker
for the Regional Planning Association of San Francisco (1925-1926). He was an active Mason, being a Past Commander of Oakland
Commandery, Knights Templar, and holding office at the time of his death in Durant Lodge, in Berkeley, and Islam Temple of
the Shrine, in San Francisco. He belonged to the University Club, Engineers' Club, and Olympic Club of San Francisco, and
at times was a member of the Athens Club of Oakland, the Sutter Club of Sacramento, and the Arizona Club of Phoenix, Ariz.
He was also a member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the American Geophysical Union.
Mr. Tibbetts was married, first, to Edith Jean MacKerricher (in 1905), and second to Flora McDonald, who died only a few weeks
prior to his own death. He is survived by his son by his first marriage, D. Reginald Tibbetts, and by his brother, Sydney
During his active career, Mr. Tibbetts established a reputation as a keen thinker and a fluent speaker. He was unusually adept
in presenting engineering problems to lay clients through both the written and spoken word. He had marvelous capacity for
mastering and remembering intricate details of engineering theory and practice. He was a delightful companion and had a host
of friends and acquaintances. He read extensively on a wide range of subjects and was particularly well informed on the strategy
of the major military engagements of history. His hobbies were farming, photography, and aeronantics.
Mr. Tibbetts took a keen interest in Society affairs and contributed discussions on many subjects. He served on several important
committees of the San Francisco Section and was a member of the Executive Committee of the Irrigation Division of the Society
in 1927, 1928, and 1929, serving as chairman for the last two years.
Mr. Tibbetts was elected a Junior of the American Society of Civil Engineers on May 1, 1906; an Associate Member on April
6, 1909; and a Member on September 11, 1917.
Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, v. 105 (1940), pp. 1924-1928.
References are to item numbers. Terms indexed include names and places. All organizations and places are in California unless
No entries are included for principal authors: Blackie and Wood; Fred H. Tibbetts; or Haviland and Tibbetts.
Alameda Farms Company,
Alameda Sugar Company,
American River Water and Power Company,
Anchorage Light and Power Company,
Arbuckle Irrigation District,
Bay Farm Island,
Bear River (Nevada County),
Bear River Dam Site,
Big Quien Sabe Valley Irrigation Project,
Big Springs Water Company,
Bolinas Beach Public Utility District,
Bon Tempe Dam,
Bowman Dam and Reservoir,
Byron Bethany Irrigation Company,
Calaveras Flood Control Dam,
Calhoun, Chad F.,
Colusa County Land Company,
Dam sites, California,
Deer Creek Diversion Dam,
De Laveaga Dam,
Duty of water,
East Bay Municipal Utilities District,
East Central San Joaquin Water Conservation Project,
El Camino Irrigation District,
Elkhorn Reclamation District,
El Verano Reservoir (Proposed),
Empire Mines and Investment Company,
Excelsior Water and Mining Company,
Excelsior Water and Power Company,
Fall River Valley Irrigation District,
Farnsworth, George N.,
Faxon-Montague Pumping Plant,
Foley (D.A.) & Co.,
Fowler, Frederick Hall,
French Lake Dam,
Glenn Colusa Irrigation District,
Gold Hill Flume,
Grenada Irrigation District,
Hammon Engineering Company, San Francisco,
Harding, Sidney T.,
Hill, Raymond A.,
Hoxie, George L.,
Humboldt River, Nevada,
Indian Valley Reservoir,
Indians Hunting and Fishing Club,
Iron Canyon Dam,
Jensen and Ross, Civil Engineers,
Kane, Robert E.,
Lakemont Gold Mining Company,
Las Viboras Dam,
Lee, Charles Hamilton,
Linden Irrigation District,
Little Shasta Valley,
Lovelock Irrigation District, Nevada,
Marin Municipal Water District,
Mariposa Public Utility District,
Merced Irrigation District,
Meridian Farms Irrigation Project,
Miller and Lux, Inc.,
Moon, Merle B.,
Narrows Dam Site,
Nevada Irrigation District,
North Fork Dam,
North Marin County Water District,
Northern Electric Railway,
Northern Water and Power Company,
Northwestern Power Project,
Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway,
Oreana Dam, Nevada,
Pacheco Pass Water District,
Pacific Gas and Electric Company,
Paradise Irrigation District,
Percolation Area Dam,
Placer County Water Users' Association,
Posey, George A.,
Prosperity Irrigation District,
Quien Sabe Ranch,
Reclamation District No.1,
Reclamation District No.70,
Reclamation District No.1618,
Reed, Howard S.,
Rio Del Mar,
Roosevelt Water Conservation District, Arizona,
Salt River Valley Water Users' Association,
Salt Springs Reservoir,
San Joaquin River Water Storage District,
San Juan Gold Company,
San Juan Ridge,
Santa Lucia Mountain Ranch Club,
Santa Ynez Irrigation Project,
Scotts Flat Dam,
Shasta Valley Irrigation Project,
Solano Irrigation District,
South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company,
Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utility District,
Stanislaus Farms Company,
Stockton Creek Dam,
Tarke Irrigation Project,
Thornton Orchard Farms,
Tibbetts, Sydney A.,
Van Bibber, A.E.,
Van Giesen Diversion Dam,
Wahler (W.A.) & Associates,
Walker River Irrigation District,
Wavona Tunnel Project,
White (J.G.) and Company, Inc.,
Williams Irrigation District,
Yuba Development Company,
Yuba River, 189, 314-316,