Collection Scope and Contents
Title: Charles H. Lee photographs
Date (inclusive): 1905-1959
Date (bulk): 1905-1938
Collection Number: MS 99/1
Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
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 Director of Distinctive Collections. Permission for publication
is given on behalf of the Water Resources Center 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 reader.
[identification of item], [date if possible]. Charles H. Lee photographs (MS 99/1). Water Resources Collections and Archives.
Special Collections & University Archives, University of California, Riverside.
Charles Hamilton Lee was born February 1, 1883, in Oakland, California, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley,
with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1905. He began his career as a hydrographer for the U.S. Geological Survey but resigned
in 1906 to become assistant engineer for the city of Los Angeles. From 1906-1911, he was involved in the design and construction
of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. During this period his report on the groundwater basin of the Independence region of the Owens
Valley was published as U.S.G.S. Water-Supply Paper 294.
From 1912-1917 he had his own practice as a civil and hydraulic engineer in Los Angeles, serving in 1912 as hydraulic engineer
for the California State Conservation Commission. After World War I, Lee was appointed President of the State Water Commission
of California and subsequently Chief of the Division of Water Rights. In this capacity he had an active influence on water
resources development in California.
In 1921 Lee again set up private practice, this time in San Francisco, doing a wide variety of work on all phases of water
supply and structural foundation. A major client was the city of Los Angeles, for whom he did work connected with the Owens
Valley, in large part related to pending litigation. In addition to work performed for Los Angeles, Lee was consulting engineer
for several other California municipalities and numerous U.S. departments and agencies, including the State of California,
water, public utility, and irrigation districts, and private companies and individuals in California and elsewhere. He was
consulting engineer for the fill project that built Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay and from 1936-1939 he was chief of
Water Supply and Sanitation for the Golden Gate International Exposition.
Other soil engineering work included slide repairs, foundation engineering, tunnels, and earth dams. He was recipient of
the 1939 Norman Medal awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers for his research on materials for earth fill dams.
Charles H. Lee died at his home in Berkeley, California on May 4, 1967, at the age of 84.
Collection Scope and Contents
Collection of 3 x 5.5-in. black-and-white photographic prints taken by Charles H. Lee, covering a wide range of water resources
development projects in California and New Mexico in which Lee was involved. Major projects documented include the construction
of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, construction of various dams and reservoirs in San Diego County and other Southern California
locations, water development in Inyo County and Mono County, and construction of Elephant Butte Dam in New Mexico. Also included
are many views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite Valley, and the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake and fire
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog.
Dams -- California -- Eel River
Earthquakes -- California -- San Francisco
Elephant Butte Dam (N. M.)
Fort Stanton (N.M.)
Hetch Hetchy Valley (Calif.)
Los Angeles Aqueduct (Calif.)
Mono Lake (Calif.)
Owens River (Calif.)
Owens Valley (Calif.)
Saint Francis Dam (Calif.)
San Luis Rey River (Calif.)
Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)
Tulare Lake (Calif.)
Water resources development -- California -- Inyo County
Water resources development -- California -- San Diego County
Yosemite Valley (Calif.)