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1955-1959 - Early Years in the Fort Worth Branch A.S.C.E.

The following is a description of some of the members and activities of the Fort Worth Branch during the “early years.” Much of this information is taken from “The History of the Fort Worth Branch, Texas Section, American Society of Civil Engineers for the Years 1931 to 1970”, by H. H. Hester (a former Branch Historian & a Life Member, A.S.C.E.)

The post-WWII decades were an exciting time of growth, not only in our nation but in the Fort Worth Branch A.S.C.E. In a continuing review of the early history of our Branch, let’s look at the period 1955-1959.

The 1955 Texas Section Fall Meeting was held in Fort Worth October 13th-15th.

On May 7, 1956 the Gruen Plan was presented to the Branch with slides, and a general discussion of the advantages that such a plan would have on the future development of the City of Fort Worth. Some were of the opinion that the cost to undertake such a colossal project would perhaps be prohibitive.

On July 25, 1957 the Fort Worth Branch had as its honored guests some National, State, and Local Officers of the A.S.C.E. at a banquet at the Ridglea Country Club. Among the guest were Mr. Mason Lockwood, President, A.S.C.E. , Walter L. Moore, President, Texas Section, Uel Stephens, President-elect, Texas Section, Randle B. Alexander, National Director, and Mr. Ralph Hardy, President, Fort Worth Branch. After a welcoming address by Hardy the meeting was turned over to Mr. Marvin Nichols who introduced the honored guest, each of whom gave a brief response. This meeting was a milestone in the history of the Fort Worth Branch, since it brought together so many leaders of "the Society."

Of local interest in the fast growing Fort Worth region, the 31-mile long Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike, constructed in seven simultaneous sections, was opened in 1957. That same year Arlington dam was completed and Lake Arlington was quickly created when spring rains filled in just 26 days, ending a severe seven-year drought in the region that had left both Lake Bridgeport and Eagle Mountain Lake almost empty and the City of Fort Worth just eight months from running out of water. The Village Creek wastewater treatment plant was constructed in 1958.

On February 10, 1958, R. S. Gooch presented his A.S.C.E. prize winning paper on "Morning-Glory Spillways in Texas.” Also in February 1958, Marvin Nichols was appointed Chairman of the State Board of Water Development. In 1960, Uel Stephens was recommended for membership on the State Board of Registered Professional Engineers, resulting in his appointment to this important post.

On June 16, 1958 a joint meeting between the Fort Worth and the Dallas Branches was held at Arlington. The speaker was Col. Walter Wells, Fort Worth District Engineer, Corps of Engineers, who gave a most interesting discussion of the work of the Corps of Engineers in Texas. Fort Worth member, and the 1958 President of the Texas Section, Uel Stephens and W. H. Sindt, President of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers were honored guests of the two Branches.

Historically, the Fort Worth Branch has always maintained a keen interest in the engineering school at Arlington, originally known as Arlington State College. Realizing the urgent need for a first class engineering school in the Fort Worth-Dallas area, the Fort Worth Branch began studies and exerted itself toward changing this Junior College to a full four year engineering school. Marvin Nichols and Joe Rady, working with the Chambers of Commerce of Arlington and Fort Worth, helped to start an active and finally well organized campaign for this purpose soon after the close of World War II. Numerous studies and reports were made and presented to committees of the Texas Legislature.

At the Branch meeting on February 9, 1959, the matter of raising Arlington State College to four year level school was discussed, and the group very enthusiastically voted to recommend to the Texas Commission on Higher education that this change be made. Copies of the Resolution passed were sent to all members of the State Legislature. These activities bore fruit when in 1959 the Legislature authorized the change of Arlington State College to a four year school.

As the Korean War had ended only a few years before, America had only a few years of normalcy before the United States escalated involvement in Vietnam after the first deaths there of American military advisors in what would become known to Americans as the “Vietnam War” (1959-1972).

In 1959. the Texas Section’s membership had grown to 1,221 subscribing members and the Texas Section Fall Meeting was held in Fort Worth that October 1st-3rd.

The Presidents of the Fort Worth Branch during the second half of this decade were:

- John P. Wier, P.E., R.P.L.S., Historical Chair, Fort Worth Branch ASCE, May 2010

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