Guide to the William Hammond Hall Papers, 1873-1911 Collection number: MS 915 MS 915

Finding aid prepared by Prepared by California Historical Society staff; revised by David Krah.
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
2001, revised 2009

Title: William Hammond Hall papers
Date (inclusive): 1873-1911
Collection Number: MS 915
Creator: Hall, Wm. Ham. (William Hammond)
Physical Description: 9 boxes, including 13 volumes, 13 oversize folders (3.5 linear feet)
Contributing Institution: California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English
Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
Abstract: The William Hammond Hall papers (MS915) consists of correspondence, technical reports, scrapbooks, and blueprints generated during his time as the first State Engineer of California (1879-1889), as a supervising engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey (1889), and as a private civil engineer designing dams and irrigation projects in California, Utah, Washington and southern Africa. Correspondence includes letters written to California Governors William Irwin and George clement Perkins in his capacity as State Engineer, and extensive correspondence with Frederick Law Olmstead & Co. regarding the Allesandro (California) town improvement project. Reports include U.S. Geological Survey materials from the California and Lahontan divisions, as well as reports relating to the construction of the Santa Ana Canal, the Northern Pacific, Yakima, and Kittitas Irrigation Co., dams on the Sacramento, Yuba, American, and Feather Rivers, and irrigation projects in the California Central Valley. Additionally, there are reports and miscellaneous notes on subjects such as artesian wells, stream gauging, sewage, and other hydrology topics. Blueprints in the collection date from Hall's time as a private engineer, and include plans relating to the Santa Ana Canal project (California), Central Irrigation District projects (California), the Northern Pacific, Yakima, and Kittitas Irrigation Co. (Washington), and miscellaneous plans and maps from projects built in southern Africa. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings pertaining to Hall's professional interests, including 3 volumes relating to irrigation and the cultivation of crops, 2 volumes relating to river and flood control, and clippings relating to Supreme Court decisions concerning irrigation and water rights.

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the California Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Research Collections. Permission for publication 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 of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], William Hammond Hall Papers, MS 915. California Historical Society.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection Number

NUCMC 82-389

Related Collections

Title: William Hammond Hall Papers, 1878-1914.
Identifier/Call Number: MS 913
Title: William Hammond Hall Letterbooks.
Identifier/Call Number: MS 914
Title: California Historical Society Photography Collection--General Subjects--Agriculture--Irrigation
Identifier/Call Number: GS:Box 003

Subjects and Indexing Terms

California. Office of State Engineer. Records and Correspondence.
Geological Survey (U.S.). Water Resources Division. California District.
California--Environmental conditions.
California--Officials and employees.
Letter books.
Water-supply engineering--California

Index to Correspondence

Allesandro Park Plan Box 1, folder 2A
Bancroft, A.L. Box 1, folder 2
Bear Valley Irrigation Project Box 1, folder 3
California State Prison (San Quentin) Box 1, folder 2
California State Prison (San Quentin) Box 1, folder 1
Crocker, Charles T. Box 1, folder 3
Grant Brothers Box 1, folder 3
Haggin, J.B. Box 1, folder 1
Hanks, Henry G. Box 1, folder 2
Frederick Law Olmstead & Co. Box 1, folder 2A
Johnson, James A. Box 1, folder 1
Miller & Lux Box 1, folder 1
Raymond, William Box 1, folder 2
Riverside County Box 1, folder 2
Rudisill, H.J. Box 1, folder 2
Ryer, Dr. W.M. Box 1, folder 1
Schuyler, James D. Box 1, folder 2
Shorb, J. de Barth Box 1, folder 2
Southern Pacific Railroad Box 1, folder 1
Topp, T.U. Box 1, folder 1
Tucker, G.H. Box 1, folder 1
Wharton, J.F. Box 1, folder 1

Administrative Information


Papers comprising collection MS915 were acquired by donation from Katherine Buchanan Hall, daughter of William Hammond Hall in 1951.


No additions are expected.

Processing History

Processed with the assistance of Dr. Otto H. Pflueger, 1971.

Biography of William Hammond Hall

William Hammond Hall was a California engineer who served as Superintendent and Engineer of Golden Gate Park (1871-1876), a consultant in the grading and development of the University of California campus at Berkeley (1872-1873), chief engineer for the Central and West Side Irrigation Districts (1870s), the first State Engineer of California (1879-1889), and Supervising Engineer of the Irrigation Bureau at the United States Geological Survey (1889). Beginning in 1890, he worked in the private sector as a civil engineer.

Scope and Contents

Compiled in the office of State Engineer (California), 1878-1888, and Division Engineer, U.S. Geological Survey. Includes survey reports of California rivers and the land surrounding them, blueprints of projects from private civil engineering practice, and correspondence.


The William Hammond Hall papers are arranged in four series: Series I - Correspondence, Series II - Reports, Series III - Scrapbooks of Newspaper Clippings, Series IV - Blueprints.
Series I - Correspondence is organized chronologically, by format, and in two cases by correspondent: 4 volumes of letterbooks (including one dedicated to communication with California Governors), and 4 folders of unbound correspondence, including 1 folder consisting of correspondence with Frederick Law Olmstead & Co.
Series II - Reports is organized chronologically, with one subseries consisting of reports authored for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Series III - Scrapbooks of Newspaper Clippings is organized first by subject, then chronologically.
Series IV - Blueprints is arranged by project and ordered according to an internal numbering system (K numbers). Unnumbered blueprints appear at the beginning of the series, with the remainder organized sequentially and grouped by project.


Correspondence Series I 1878-1894

Physical Description: Box 1, folders 1-3; Box 5, volumes 1-4


Correspondence arranged chronologically.

Scope and Contents

Consists of mostly professional correspondence, including correspondence with California Governors William Irwin and George Clement Perkins as state engineer, and Frederick Law Olmstead & Co. regarding the Allesandro Town Improvement Project.
Box 5, Volume 1

Letterbook 1878-1879

Box 5, Volume 2

Letterbook 1879-1882

Box 5, Volume 3

Letterbook 1880-1882


Small area of fire damage
Box 5, Volume 4

Letterbook, letters to the governor 1878-1880

Box 1, Folder 1


Box 1, Folder 2


Box 1, Folder 2A

Correspondence--Frederick Law Olmsted & Co. (Allesandro Town Improvement Project) 1892-1893

Box 1, Folder 3



Reports Series II 1880-1911

Physical Description: Box 1, folders 1-3A; Boxes 2-4


Reports are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Contents

Consists of reports on various irrigation and water works projects. Includes reports written while a supervising engineer with the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as technical notes on water flow, irrigation, sewage, and Hall's stream gauging system.
Box 1, Folder 1

Dam across Davis Slough, Sacramento River 1880

Box 1, Folder 2

Dam in Yuba River Valley on the Yuba and Bear Rivers 1880

Box 1, Folder 3

American River, Feather River 1880

See also Cross section of head dam, Feather River Blueprints

map-case drawer 7, folder 1
Box 1, Folder 3A

San Joaquin Irrigation Canal 1881

Box 2, Folder 4



Reservoir Sites 1881


Claims allowed by Board of Directors Drainage District No. 1 1881


Sewage Report on City of Stockton 1883


Santa Ana River Reports

See Also - Blueprints

Santa Ana Canal, map-case drawer 7, folder 6

Specifications for a Topographical Survey along a route for the location of the Northern Pacific and Yakima Canal

See Also - Blueprints

Northern Pacific, Yakima, and Kittitas Irrigation Co., map-case drawer 7, folder 7
Box 2, Folder 5

Artesian Wells 1888-1889

Box 2, Folder 6



To Examining Commission on Rivers and Harbors, 1889


Artesian Wells


Bear Valley Water Shed


The Ostrander Reservoir Site


Canals and Irrigations of Kings River


Upper San Joaquin Irrigation Canal


Chowchilla Canal


Settlers Canal


Madera Irrigation District


Kaweah River

Box 2, Folder 7



Alta Irrigation District


Knight River and Fresno Canal


Irrigation in New Mexico 1890


Articles of Incorporation of the Northern Pacific, Yakima and Kittitas Irrigation Co. 1890

See also - Blueprints

Northern Pacific, Yakima, and Kittitas Irrigation Co., map-case drawer 7, folder 7

Irrigation Possibilities of Humboldt River Valley, Nevada 1891


U.S. Geological Surveys 1889-1890

Physical Description: Box 2, folders 8-9; Boxes 3-4
Box 2, Folder 8-9


Box 2, Folder 8

Mountain Reservoir Surveys, Clear Lake Reservoir Surveys, and others

Box 2, Folder 9

Truckee Basin and others undated

Box 3, Folder 10

Monthly Reports from Lahontan Division, 1889

Box 3, Folder 11

Lahontan Division, Closing Reports 1889

Box 3, Folder 12

Monthly Reports from California Division, 1889

Box 3, Folder 13

California Division, Closing Reports 1889

Box 3, Folder 14

Annual Report 1890

Box 3, Folder 15

Instructions for Field Work 1889

Box 3, Folder 16-17

Miscellany 1889-1890

Box 3, Folder 18

Report on System of Stream Gauging 1890

Box 3, Folder 19

Cape Colony 1897-1898

Box 4, Folder 20

Reports - South San Joaquin Irrigation District, T.R.P.P. Key to Canal, Meander and Road Lines 1911

Box 4, Folder 21

Miscellany--Notes undated

Box 4, Folder 22

Notes on water flow undated

Box 4, Folder 23

Notes on irrigation undated

Box 4, Folder 24

Notes on sewage undated

Box 4, Folder 25

Chapter XVII--Kings River and Fresno Canal, Fowler Switch Canal, Centerville and Kingsburg Canal 1890

Box 4, Folder 26

Miscellany, USGS Maps undated

Box 4, Volume 1

Unidentified exhibit material on water usage undated


Scrapbooks of newspaper clippings Series III 1873-1891

Physical Description: Boxes 6-9 (Volumes 5-13)

Scope and Contents

Scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings related to Hall's professional interests. [Vols. 1 - 4, see Series I, Correspondence]


Scrapbooks arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 6, Volume 5-6

Irrigation-Cultivation Crops 1876-1886

Box 7, Volume 7

Irrigation-Cultivation Crops 1891-1892

Box 7, Volume 8

Mining Debris Controversy & Legislation 1881

Box 8, Volume 9

Rainfall, Flood, and River Matters 1881

Box 8, Volume 10

Rainfall, Flood, and River Matters 1889-1890

Box 9, Volume 11

Sewage Disposal--House Drainage 1873-1892

Box 9, Volume 12

Supreme Court Decisions--Irrigation & Water Rights, 1886-1891

Box 9, Volume 13

University of California Bulletins, Agricultural Experiment Station, E.W. Hilgard 1884-1891


Blueprints Series IV 1890-1899

Physical Description: 13 oversize folders
Location: Located in map-case drawer 7

Arrangement and Organization

Blueprints arranged in folders by project, with some groupings of miscellaneous plans. Blueprints are organized by internal numbering system (K number). Unnumbered plans appear at the beginning of map-case drawer 7.

Scope and Contents

Blueprints pertaining to survey, dam, and irrigation projects in California, Washington, Utah, and Southern Africa during Hall's time as a private civil engineer.
Map-case 7, Folder 1

Cross section of head dam, Feather River undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: 2 unnumbered sheets
Map-case 7, Folder 2

Van Ryn Dam Extension 1899

Physical Description:
Sheets: 5 unnumbered sheets

Miscellaneous Africa Projects

Map-case 7, Folder 3

Divisional Map of Oudtshoorn 1890

Physical Description:
Sheets: 2 unnumbered sheets
Map-case 7, Folder 4

Rand Mines - Natal Spruit Reservoirs Wasteway Structure undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K1
Map-case 7, Folder 4

Mattoppo Irrigation Works undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K2 - K5
Map-case 7, Folder 4

Calitzdorp Irrigation Scheme undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K6


Map-case 7, Folder 3

Krantz's Masonry Dam - Transverse Section undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: 1 unnumbered sheet
Map-case 7, Folder 5

Masonry and Rock Dam Preliminary and Comparative Studies undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K8 - 5 sheets
Map-case 7, Folder 5

San Jacinto Nuevo - Cross section showing strata at dam and waste weir site undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K9
Map-case 7, Folder 5

Contours of Bear Creek Canyon undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K10
Map-case 7, Folder 8

Diagram for determining the value of C., D, R, & S - Ganguillet & Kutter formula undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K43
Map-case 7, Folder 6

Santa Ana Canal 1891

Physical Description:
Sheets: K11- K25
Map-case 7, Folder 7

Northern Pacific, Yakima, and Kittitas Irrigation Co. (N.P.Y. & K.I. Co.) 1894

Physical Description:
Sheets: K26 - K42
Map-case 7, Folder 9

South Gila Canal Co. undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K44 - K45
Map-case 7, Folder 10

Central Irrigation District undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K46 - K66
Map-case 7, Folder 11

Sharon Estate - Buchanan Reservoir, Chowchilla River 1891

Physical Description:
Sheets: K67 - K70
Map-case 7, Folder 12

Mt. Nebo Irrigation Co. 1895

Physical Description:
Sheets: K71 - K79
Map-case 7, Folder 13

Details of Sweetwater Dam undated

Physical Description:
Sheets: K80 - K82