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 2008
© 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:
Extent: 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

Separated Material

Blueprints and other oversize materials have been transferred to the architecture collection.

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

This 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, WA.
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 relting 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)
Civil engineers
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)
Engineering--estimate and cost
Engineering and state
Engineering drawings
Granger, Walter N. (f. 36)
Hydraulic Engineering
Hydrographic Surveying
Irrigation canals and flumes
Irrigation districts
Irrigation engineering
Irrigation laws
Irrigation--Kern Co.
Irrigation--Sacramento Valley
Irrigaiton--San Joaquin Valley
Irrigation--Yakima, WA
Irrigation--Tuolumne Co.
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)
Reclamation of Land
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)
Water Supply Engineering
Yakima Valley Project (WA) (f. 36-44)
Zillah Headquarters Building (f. 36-42)

Container List

Box 1, Folder 1

General Correspondence, 1883-1910

Box 1, Folder 2

Irrigation; Its province and problems (outline & notes) 1889

Box 1, Folder 3

Dams for Storage Reservoirs (mss), nd

Box 1, Folder 4

Notes and miscellaneous documents

Box 1, Folder 5

Published Works, 1891, 1897

Box 1, Folder 6

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

Box 1, Folder 7

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

Box 1, Folder 8

Specht's Report on Reservoirs and Dams for Storage Purposes

Box 1, Folder 9

California State Engineering Dept., various

Box 1, Folder 10

California State Engineering Dept., Drainage & Debris work - Correspondence,

Box 1, Folder 11

California State Engineering Dept. - Irrigation Dist. Report, Correspondence, nd

Box 1, Folder 12

California State Engineering Dept.- Irrigation Dist. Report, Correspondence, 1888

Box 1, Folder 13

California State Engineering Dept. - Report on Irrigation, 1880-1888

Box 2, Folder 14

CA. State Engineering Dept. - controversy, ca. 1890

Box 2, Folder 15

Association of Irrigation Districts - Correspondence, 1891-1992

Box 2, Folder 16

Association of Irrigation Districts - Directories, 1891



Box 2, Folder 17

Bear Valley Dam & Perris Irrigation Project, 1889

Box 2, Folder 18

Central Irrigation District - Correspondence, 1891-1992

Box 2, Folder 19

Central Irrigation District - Specifications, 1889-91

Box 2, Folder 20

Central Irrigation District - Cost estimates, 1891

Box 2, Folder 21

Clear Lake Survey

Box 2, Folder 22

Contra Costa & Oakland Water Co., 1886-1894

Box 2, Folder 23

Coyote River Water Project, 1901-1902

Box 2, Folder 24

The Crocker and Huffman Canal

Box 3, Folder 25

Kern Co. Irrigation Project, 1878-1885

Box 3, Folder 26

Kern River Gaugings - Correspondence, 1903-1904

Box 3, Folder 27

Kern River Gaugings - Reports, 1903-1904

Box 3, Folder 28

Kern River Gaugings - Accounts, 1903-1904

Box 3, Folder 29

Nevada Irrigation Project, 1889-1890

Box 3, Folder 30

Sacramento River Flood Control - Correspondence, 1903-1904

Box 3, Folder 31

Sacramento Valley Irrigation Project, 1883

Box 3, Folder 32

Salt Spring Valley Reservoir, 1889

Box 3, Folder 33

San Joaquin Valley Canal - Statistics, 1885

Box 4, Folder 34

Irrigation in Southern California, c. 1888

Box 4, Folder 35

Irrigation Projects in Southern CA (L.A., San Diego, San Bernadino) nd

Box 4, Folder 36

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence- W.N. Granger, 1893-1894

Box 4, Folder 37

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence- C.R. Rockwood, 1890-1892

Box 4, Folder 38

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence- J.B. Rogers, 1893

Box 4, Folder 39

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence- D.W. Ross

Box 4, Folder 40

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence- P. Schulze, 1892-1894

Box 4, Folder 41

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence- G. Sterling, 1891-1893

Box 4, Folder 42

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence G. Sterling, 1893-1894

Box 4, Folder 43

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project- Correspondence

Box 5, Folder 44

Yakima Valley [WA] Irrigation Project - Final Cost Reports, 1894

Box 5, Folder 45

Yolo County Sub-Irrigation

Box 5, Folder 46

Yosemite Valley Project, 1902

Box 5, Folder 47

Arid Lands Legislation, 1889-1890

Box 5, Folder 48

Newspaper clippings, 1888-1890

Box 5, Folder 49

Sierra Buttes Canal & Water Co. -- Briefs

Box 5, Folder 50

California Highway Bulletin, Census Bulletin, 1916, 1892


Other published material relating to non-California irrigation, public lands and water use.