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Walter Leroy Huber, 1883-1960

Walter Leroy Huber, 1883-1960

Walter Leroy Huber, the son of Millard Fillmore and Celia (Dill) Huber, was born in San Francisco, California, on January 4, 1883. He attended the public schools of Yolo County, California, and after graduating from Woodland High School, entered the University of California (Berkeley), from which he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, in 1905.

Mr. Huber obtained his early professional experience in structural design as an Assistant Engineer with John D. Galloway. In 1908, he was appointed Chief Engineer of the University of California's building program by Supervising Architect John Galen Howard. Because of his knowledge of hydroelectric design and his familiarity with the mountains (he led parties which were some of the first to climb the Sierra peaks), in 1910 he represented Galloway and Markwart in surveying for a possible hydroelectric project on the Calaveras River. Also in 1910, he was appointed District Engineer for the United States Forest Service, District no. 5, comprising all of the land area in California and southwestern Nevada which was subject to the jurisdiction of the Forest Service.

Huber's contact with the Sierra Club, John Muir, and his love of the mountains made him an ardent conservationist. Thus, when the Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls region was threatened because of an application for the construction of a dam and hydroelectric power development on the San Joaquin River, Huber called the Sierra Club to help prevent the possible desecration which would result. He arranged for a meeting between Club representatives and Henry S. Graves, Chief Forester, and as Forest Service Engineer, Huber surveyed the area to be preserved. As a result of Huber's foresight, President Taft signed the Proclamation creating the Devils Postpile National Monument on July 6, 1911.

In March 1913, Huber opened his own engineering office in San Francisco. For the next twenty-eight years, Huber operated as sole principal. In 1941, he chose as his partner, Edward M. Knapik, another University of California graduate. The partnership of Huber and Knapik did extensive work for the University of California at Berkeley, Davis, and San Francisco.

Although most active in the structural, hydroelectric, and irrigation areas, Huber undertook special studies in flood control and municipal water supply. He was an authority on earthquake resistance and published works concerning his studies on seismic forces. Concerned also with the utilization of mountain water, Huber acted as consultant for the Nevada-California Power Company and the Southern Sierras Power Company. During WWI he explored and surveyed the Little Colorado River and Service with the State Engineer's Committee preparing the original report for the Central Valley Project. He was consultant for the California Department of Water Resources on the State Water Plan and for the War Department; he was employed by the City of San Francisco in connection with its Cherry Valley Dam and Hetch Hetchy power development; and was consultant on the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's American River power development.

On November 11, 1941, Huber was married to Alberta Mann Reed in Los Angeles. In 1954, President Eisenhower named him Advisor to the President on a controversial study of the Arkansas-White-Red River Basins. He also served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of the California Academy of Sciences. For his professional accomplishments, Huber received the Honor Award of the Building Industry Conference Board in 1953.

Walter L. Huber died on May 30, 1960, in San Francisco.

Excerpted from: Memorial Concerning Walter Leroy Huber, 1883-1960, by H. H. Hall and Robert D. Dewell; and, Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, vol. 126, pt. V (1961), p. 27-28.

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W. L. Huber Papers, bulk 1910-1950 ca. 13 linear ft. (30 boxes)

Correspondence, reports, documents, data, and photographs, relating to dams, hydroelectric power installations, irrigation works, and municipal water supply systems, principally in California, but including other western states and the Arkansas- White-Red River Basin. Includes material on the Devils Postpile National Monument, Calif.

Online collection guide available via the Online Archive of California.

Call number: HUBER

Last modified: 4/29/2011 2:49 PM by S. Haren

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