Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (235.87 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Collection Scope and Contents
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James Dix Schuyler papers
    Date (inclusive): 1886-1912
    Date (bulk): 1896-1907
    Collection Number: SCHU
    Creator: Schuyler, James D. (James Dix), 1848-1912
    Extent: 10.5 linear feet (24 boxes)
    Repository: Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
    Riverside, CA 92517-5900
    Abstract: The James Dix Schuyler Papers consist of unpublished reports, correspondence, and other documents. The reports cover Schuyler's work as a consulting engineer in the Western U.S., Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Panama, and Puerto Rico. Photographs are included in many reports and they depict public buildings, private residences, street scenes, and landscapes along with images of dams, canals, and other hydraulic structures.
    Languages: English.


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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 Collections and 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], [date if possible]. James Dix Schuyler papers (SCHU). Water Resources Collections and Archives. Special Collections & University Archives, University of California, Riverside.


    James Dix Schuyler was born May 11, 1848, in Ithaca, New York, the son of Philip C. and Lucy M. (Dix) Schuyler. He was educated at Friend's College, 1863-1868; after that he was self-taught. In July 1889 he was married to Mary Ingalls Tulliper.
    Schuyler began his engineering career in 1869, locating and constructing the Kansas Pacific Railway in western Kansas and Colorado. In 1870, he was appointed Resident Engineer on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, from Colorado Springs to Denver, and made the first survey of Colorado Springs. He came to California in 1873, serving as Division Engineer of the North Pacific Coast Railroad from Ross Valley to San Rafael. In 1874, he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Stockton and Ione Railroad, and on the financial collapse of that project, he worked temporarily as a writer for the Stockton Daily Independent. In 1877 he was made Chief Assistant State Engineer, under William Hammond Hall, and was placed in charge of the irrigation investigations being conducted by that department in the Central Valley of California.
    In 1882, he was appointed Chief Engineer and General Superintendent of the Sinaloa and Durango Railroad in Mexico. He returned to California in 1884, and was engaged as a contractor in the construction of a section of the San Francisco sea-wall. In 1887-1888, he supervised the building of Sweetwater Dam in San Diego County, and in 1890-1891, he designed and supervised the building of Hemet Dam in Riverside County, California, then the highest masonry structure in the state.
    During subsequent years, Schuyler devoted special attention to hydraulic engineering in general, designing and building water works in many cities and towns, including Denver, Portland, and numerous others. He was one of the Board of Consulting Engineers to pass on the feasibility of the Owens River water supply project for the city of Los Angeles. From 1903 to 1905, he was employed as the consulting engineer for the building of the great dam on the Snake River at the head of the Twin Falls Canal, at the time the largest irrigation system in America. He held a similar relation to the American Beet Sugar Company in California and Colorado during a period of nine years of irrigation and water supply development. In the course of his long practice he was called upon to act in an advisory capacity for a very large number of irrigation projects and domestic water supply works throughout the western United States. During these years he became known also for his construction of dams by hydraulic fill--one of his first works of this type was the Lake Francis Dam, built for the Bay Counties Power Company in Yuba County, California.
    In January 1909, President Roosevelt appointed Schuyler to accompany President-elect Taft to Panama as one of seven engineers to report on canal plans, the Gatun Dam, etc. The unanimous report of this board of engineers was in favor of carrying out the plan adopted by Congress for a lock-canal, but recommended a modification of the height and slopes of the Gatun Dam, lowering it by 20 feet.
    Schuyler's activities as a consulting engineer extended across the ocean to Japan, and as far south as Brazil. He was consulting engineer to Waialua Plantation, Hawaii, on the construction of the highest dam on the islands, chiefly built by sluicing; to the Territorial Government of Hawaii on Nuuanu Dam, Honolulu; to the Monterrey Water-Works and Sewer Company, Ltd., of Mexico; to the Kobe Syndicate on an extensive power project in Japan, involving the construction of a very high dam; to the Mexican Light and Power Company, Ltd., on the building of four large dams for power development in Mexico; to the Vancouver Power Company, Ltd., on the building of a dam at Coquitlam Lake; to the Arrowhead Reservoir Company; and to the U.S. Indian Bureau on the building of Zuni Dam, New Mexico. He was also consulting engineer for the British Columbia Electric Railway Company on dam construction, the reclamation of swamp lands, etc.
    Schuyler was the author of Reservoirs for Irrigation, Water Power, and Domestic Water Supply (John Wiley & Sons, 1901; 2nd edition, 1908), a work on dams, which for many years was a standard work on this subject. He was also the author of numerous contributions to engineering societies, two of which won the Thomas Fitch Rowland prize for the best paper of the year read before the American Society of Civil Engineers.
    James Dix Schuyler died on September 13, 1912.
    Excerpted from the memoir of James Dix Schuyler prepared by Stephen E. Kieffer, C. E. Grunsky, and J. B. Lippincott, published in Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, v. 76 (1913), p. 2243-2245.

    Collection Scope and Contents

    The James Dix Schuyler collection consists of unpublished reports, correspondence, and other documents. The reports cover Schuyler's work as a consulting engineer in the Western U.S., Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Panama, and Puerto Rico.
    A notable aspect of the Schuyler collection is the photographic record represented within the reports. Schuyler illustrated many of his reports with original black-and-white photographs. He also provided detailed captions describing them. Included among the photographs are many images documenting contemporary life in the communities in which Schuyler was consulting on waterworks projects. Photographs of public buildings, private residences, street scenes, and landscapes can be found alongside images of dams, canals, and other hydraulic structures.
    The collection, described in Bibliography of the Reports and Publications of James Dix Schuyler,compiled by Lois Judd, Berkeley: Water Resources Collections and Archives, 1961 Archives series report ;no. 11, was originally given to the Mechanics' Institute Library of San Francisco in 1927 by Karl C. Schuyler, of Denver, and Philip Schuyler ,of San Francisco, nephews of James D. Schuyler. The Mechanics' Institute Library, in turn, donated the collection to the Water Resources Center Archives.
    Select items from this collection have been digitized and are available online.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Schuyler, James D. (James Dix), 1848-1912
    Architecture -- West (U.S.)
    Buildings -- West (U.S.)
    Dams -- California
    Dams -- West (U.S.)
    Irrigation engineering -- California
    Irrigation engineering -- West (U.S.)
    Panama Canal (Panama)
    Sewerage -- California
    Sewerage -- West (U.S.)
    Water-power -- Japan
    Water-supply engineering -- Brazil
    Water-supply engineering -- California
    Water-supply engineering -- Canada
    Water-supply engineering -- Mexico
    Water-supply engineering -- Puerto Rico
    Water-supply engineering -- West (U.S.)
    Waterworks -- California
    Waterworks -- West (U.S.)