Water Resource Collections and Archives


Charles Derleth, Jr., 1874-1956

Charles Derleth, Jr., 1874-1956

Charles Derleth, Jr., was born on October 2, 1874, in New York. He received a bachelor of science degree at the City College of New York in 1894 and civil engineering degree at Columbia University in 1896. He served as Instructor and Lecturer at Columbia from 1896 to 1901. He moved westward in 1901 to become Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado. In 1903 Derleth accepted appointment as Associate Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1907 he became Professor and Dean of the College of Civil Engineering, and in 1930, when the Colleges of Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering were combined, he was appointed Dean of the College of Engineering. He served in this capacity until 1942.

The hallmark of Derleth's career as a civil engineer is undoubtedly his work on San Francisco Bay bridges. He was Chief Engineer for the Carquinez Strait Highway Bridge, which, at the time it was built in 1927, was the longest cantilever bridge west of the Mississippi. He was a member of the Board of Consulting Engineers for both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. He also visited, usually in the company of the Chief Engineer, nearly every major bridge construction site in northern California.

In addition, Derleth played a pivotal role in the design and construction of some of the best-known buildings, bridges, foundations, dams, highways, and tunnels in northern California. He was in charge of engineering work for the San Francisco Bureau of Architecture and was Consulting Engineer for Alameda County on numerous municipal structures, including the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, the San Francisco Civic Center and Auditorium (which he also designed), Grace Cathedral, and the Native Sons Hall in San Francisco, First National Bank of Berkeley, and Contra Costa County Hospital. Derleth also served as Chief Consulting Engineer on the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Tunnel (now called the George A. Posey Tube) and as Consulting Engineer to the University of California, designing and constructing California Hall, Wheeler Hall, Doe Library, Gilman Hall, LeConte Hall, the Campanile, and other structures on the Berkeley campus. In 1930 Derleth received an honorary degree from the University of California in recognition of his service.

Charles Derleth died on June 13, 1956.

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Charles Derleth Papers, 1865-1952 ca. 15 linear ft. (19 manuscript boxes + oversize flat boxes)

Correspondence, engineering reports, blueprints, photographs, notes, and news clippings relating to Derleth's work as a consulting engineering on the Golden Gate Bridge, Carquinez Bridge, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, a proposed Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Antioch Bridge, U.S. Engineer Foundation's Committee on Arch Dam Investigation, Spring Valley Water Company, and others. Also includes materials on masonry structures (chiefly dams), the Hetch Hetchy Project, Lake Spaulding Dam, and other bridges and dams in California and elsewhere.

Online collection guide available via the Online Archive of California.

Call number: DERLETH

Last modified: 4/29/2011 2:48 PM by S. Haren

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