Guide to the William Hammond Hall Papers MS 913

Finding aid prepared by California Historical Society staff.
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
2001, revised 2009
© 2008 California Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: William Hammond Hall papers
Dates: 1878-1914
Collection Number: MS 913
Creator: Hall, Wm. Ham. (William Hammond)
Physical Description: 2.5 Linear feet
Repository: California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Chiefly correspondence, reports, accounts, and other papers pertaining to Hall's irrigation projects in Calif., with some materials on projects in Nev. and Yakima, Wash. Includes some papers related to Hall's research and publications on irrigation, dams, and reservoirs; reports and correspondence on irrigation from the Calif. State Engineering Department; and correspondence and directories from the Association of Irrigation Districts. Also includes assorted publications on irrigation in the West outside of Calif., public lands, and water use.

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 913. California Historical Society.

Related Collections

Title: William Hammond Hall Letterbooks.
Identifier/Call Number: MS 914
Title: William Hammond Hall Papers, 1873-1911.
Identifier/Call Number: MS 915
Title: California Historical Society Photography Collection--General Subjects--Agriculture--Irrigation
Identifier/Call Number: GS:Box 003

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Irrigation engineers--California.
Irrigation engineering--California.
Irrigation engineering--West (U.S.)
California--Officials and employees.
California--Environmental conditions.
California. State Engineering Dept.

Administrative Information


No additions are expected.

Processing Information

Processed by California Historical Society staff.


William Hammond Hall was born on February 12, 1846, the son of John Buchanan Hall and Anna Marie Hammond. At the time of his birth the family lived in Hagerstown, MD but moved to Stockton in 1853. Between 1858 and 1865 Hall was enrolled in a private episcopal academy. It had been planned that Hall would attend West Point so his education was directed toward mathematics, however, as a result of the Civil War, Hall's mother would not allow her son to fight against `her people' so he never received a college education.
His practical education began the summer of 1863 when he worked as a rodman and leveler for surveyor A.J. Bender. The folowing summer Hall did barometrical work under a Col. Williamson on Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams in Oregon. Following completion of his schooling in 1865, he was permanently employed by the Board of Military Engineers in San Francisco. A year later he was appointed Asst. Civil Enginer of the U.S. Engineering Corps. In addition to his work for the Army and the U.S. Engineering Corps, Hall worked on the Outside Lands Survey under City Surveyor W.P. Humphreys and in 1869 Hall was involved in mining engineering in the White Pine District, Nevada.
1870 was an important year in Hall's life. He was married to Emma Fitzhugh, member of a prominent Southern family. And in August of that year, Hall, as low bidder, was awarded the contract to survey and topographically map out Golden Gate Park. Following that report, he prepared a plan for the Park's development and the following August was appointed engineer and superintendent of the Park. A position Hall held until his resignation in 1876.
During 1872-73, Hall consulted in the grading and development of the University of California campus at Berkeley. In the few years after his resignation Hall was involved in a variety of projects which included: inspection work and reports on the construction of Wm. Ralston's Palace Hotel;and serving as chief engineer for the Central Irrigation District and the West side Irrigation District.
In the Spring of 1879 Governor William Irwin appointed Hall as the first state engineer of California. He was reappointed to this position by four successive governors. In this capacity he was asked by Gov. Stoneman to act as consulting engineer for Golden Gate Park in 1886. 1886 was also the year in which Hall launched his journal Land and Water with editorial assistance from his Assistant State Engineer James D. Schuyler. Hall resigned as State Engineer in 1889 and was appointed supervising engineer of the U.S.G.S. Irrigation Bureau a position he held for a year.
Hall went into private practice in 1890 and worked as a civil engineer on irrigation projects in central and southern California and as consulting engineer on irrigation and waterworks in England and South Africa. In 1889 Hall went to Russia, in 1905 to Panama to report on engineering studies on the Panama Canal and in 1918 to Turkey where he reported on Armenian and Syrian Relief. During these years Hall was in business as a civil engineer and land developer. During the early part of the twentieth century Hall was involved in a controversy concerning land in Yosemite (now known as Hetch-Hetchy) which the City of San Francisco was seeking for a water supply.
Hall had three daughters, Anna Hammond, Margaret Fitzhugh, and Katherine Buchanan Hall. He died on October 16, 1934 and was buried in Colma.
Source: Clary, Raymond. The History of Golden Gate Park.

Scope and Contents of Collection

Consists of records from William Hammond Hall's professional practice as an engineer and especially as a water resources specialist. The material in this collection relates specifically to Irrigation in California, Nevada and Yakima, Washington.
Folders 1-8 contain more general materials such as correspondence; outlines and notes from Hall's research and toward articles and reports he was intending to write; copies of his published works and reports on reservoirs, two by his assistant James D. Schuyler.
Folders 9-16 relate to the California State Office of Engineering and include reports and correspondence. There are some materials relating to a controversy in that office that took place in 1890. There is also material from the Association of Irrigation Districts.
The remainder of the collection are records relating to specific water engineering projects throughout California. Included are reports, correspondence, specifications, financial records such as cost estimates and accounts, arid land legislation and newspaper clippings. Projects included in this material include the California Central Irrigation District, irrigation in Southern California, a major endeavor in Yakima, Washington, and various flood control and canal projects throughout the state. There are also records from a project in Nevada.
Box 5 contains an assortment of published sources such as Sierra Buttes Canal & Water Co. briefs, issues of the Census Bulletin from 1892, and other published material relating non-California irrigation, public lands and water use.


Arid regions (f. 47)
Association of Irrigation Districts (f. 15, 16)
Bear Valley Dam (San Bernadino Co.) (f. 17)
Bosley, William B.
Brown, Walston H. & Bros. (f. 32)
California. State Department of Engineering (f. 9-14)
Central Irrigation District (f. 18-20)
Clear Lake (Lake Co.) (f. 21)
Contra Costa & Oakland Water Co. (f. 22)
Coyote River Water Project (Santa Clara Co.) (f. 23)
Crocker & Huffman Canal (Merced Co.) (f. 24)
Dixon, L.L. (f. 25)
Granger, Walter N. (f. 36)
James, Walter (f.25)
Kern County--Irrigation (f. 25-28)
Kern River (f. 26-28)
Los Angeles (f. 15, 34,35)
Nance, J.W. (f. 15)
Nevada Irrigation Project (f. 29)
Newlands, Francis G. (f. 29)
Northern Pacific, Yakima and Kittitas Irrigation Co. (f. 36-44)
Nurse, M. A. (f. 30)
Pardee, Geroge C. (f. 10)
Perris Irrigation Project (f. 15, 17)
Riverside Co. (f. 15, 17)
Salt Spring Valley Reservoir (Calavaras Co.) (f. 32)
San Bernadino Co. (f. 34, 35)
Schuyler, James D. (f. 6,7)
San Diego Co. (f. 15, 34, 35)
Sierra Buttes Canal & Water Co. (f.50)
Sterling, Guy (f. 41, 42)
Washington (State) (f. 36-44)
Yakima Valley Project (WA) (f. 36-44)
Zillah Headquarters Building (f. 36-42)

Container List

Mixed materials 1, Folder 1

General correspondence 1883-1910

Mixed materials 1, Folder 2

Irrigation; Its Province and Problems, outline and notes 1889

Mixed materials 1, Folder 3

Dams for Storage Reservoirs, manuscript undated

Mixed materials 1, Folder 4

Notes and miscellaneous documents undated

Mixed materials 1, Folder 5

Published Works 1891, 1897

Mixed materials 1, Folder 6

Reservoir of San Bernadino and L.A. Counties, by J.D. Schuyler 1880-1881

Mixed materials 1, Folder 7

Report on Mountain Reservoirs on the Kern River, by J.D. Schuyler 1888

Mixed materials 1, Folder 8

Specht's Report on Reservoirs and Dams for Storage Purposes undated


California State Engineering Department

Mixed materials 1, Folder 9

General undated

Mixed materials 1, Folder 10

Drainage and debris work - correspondence undated

Mixed materials 1, Folder 11-12

Irrigation District Report - correspondence 1888

Mixed materials 1, Folder 13

Report on Irrigation 1880-1888

Mixed materials 2, Folder 14

Controversy circa 1890


Association of Irrigation Districts

Mixed materials 2, Folder 15

Correspondence 1891-1992

Mixed materials 2, Folder 16

Directories 1891



Mixed materials 2, Folder 17

Bear Valley Dam and Perris Irrigation Project 1889


Central Irrigation District

Mixed materials 2, Folder 18

Correspondence 1891-1892

Mixed materials 2, Folder 19

Specifications 1889-1891

Mixed materials 2, Folder 20

Cost estimates 1891

Mixed materials 2, Folder 21

Clear Lake Survey undated

Mixed materials 2, Folder 22

Contra Costa and Oakland Water Co. 1886-1894

Mixed materials 2, Folder 23

Coyote River Water Project 1901-1902

Mixed materials 2, Folder 24

The Crocker and Huffman Canal undated

Mixed materials 3, Folder 25

Kern County Irrigation Project 1878-1885


Kern River Gaugings

Mixed materials 3, Folder 26

Correspondence 1903-1904

Mixed materials 3, Folder 27

Reports 1903-1904

Mixed materials 3, Folder 28

Accounts 1903-1904

Mixed materials 3, Folder 29

Nevada Irrigation Project 1889-1890

Mixed materials 3, Folder 30

Sacramento River Flood Control - correspondence 1903-1904

Mixed materials 3, Folder 31

Sacramento Valley Irrigation Project 1883

Mixed materials 3, Folder 32

Salt Spring Valley Reservoir 1889

Mixed materials 3, Folder 33

San Joaquin Valley Canal - statistics 1885

Mixed materials 4, Folder 34

Irrigation in Southern California circa 1888

Mixed materials 4, Folder 35

Irrigation Projects in Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernadino) undated


Yakima Valley (Washington) Irrigation Project



Mixed materials 4, Folder 36

W.N. Granger 1893-1894

Mixed materials 4, Folder 37

C.R. Rockwood 1890-1892

Mixed materials 4, Folder 38

J.B. Rogers 1893

Mixed materials 4, Folder 39

D.W. Ross undated

Mixed materials 4, Folder 40

P. Schulze 1892-1894

Mixed materials 4, Folder 41-42

G. Sterling 1891-1893

Mixed materials 4, Folder 43

Correspondence undated

Mixed materials 5, Folder 44

Final Cost Reports 1894

Mixed materials 5, Folder 45

Yolo County Sub-Irrigation undated

Mixed materials 5, Folder 46

Yosemite Valley Project 1902



Mixed materials 5, Folder 47

Arid Lands Legislation 1889-1890

Mixed materials 5, Folder 48

Newspaper clippings 1888-1890

Mixed materials 5, Folder 49

Sierra Buttes Canal & Water Co. - Briefs

Mixed materials 5, Folder 50

California Highway Bulletin, Census Bulletin 1892, 1916