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Hiram Martin Chittenden

Hiram Martin Chittenden: His Public Career

Gordon B. Dodds
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Hiram Martin Chittenden
    Book Description:

    The life of Hiram Martin Chittenden illustrates the work of one of the most influential federal agencies that has shaped the American West -- the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As a member of the Corps Chittenden was assigned to Yellowstone Park, where he completed the plan for tourist roads. His work there convinced powerful congressmen to increase greatly the appropriations for the park.In this well-researched biography, Mr. Dodds shows that Chittenden was, in addition to his Corps duties, one of the first advocates of multiple-purpose resource use, a champion of scientific accuracy in forming conservation policies, the first president of the Seattle Port Commission, and the author of several books, including his monumental History of the American Fur Trade and a guidebook to Yellowstone Park that is still in print.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6275-1
    Subjects: History, Technology, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. 1. A Western Engineer Emerges (1858-1896)
    (pp. 1-23)

    The two army officers made a disparate pair as they conversed in their compartment on the Northern Pacific express crossing the Great Plains beyond St. Paul. The older man, short, voluble, and opinionated, was obviously the leader. His companion, tall, quiet, and self-contained, listened dutifully to the comments of his superior while the train rolled westward in the early June of 1891. They talked mostly of their destination, Yellowstone Park, a symbol of past achievement for the elder and of future challenge for the younger. As their train passed into Montana and drew nearer the hamlet of Cinnabar, the junction...

  5. 2. Pioneer in Reclamation (1896-1902)
    (pp. 24-41)

    When Chittenden was reassigned to the Missouri River Commission in March 1896, after the completion of the Ohio canal survey, he did not anticipate that he was on the verge of acquiring a national reputation in the field of reclamation. Opening his mail in St. Louis on an August day, he discovered that he had been ordered by the Acting Chief of Engineers to conduct a survey to locate prospective reservoir sites in Colorado and Wyoming and to investigate the functions of reservoirs in general. The genesis of Chittenden’s new assignment was an amendment to the River and Harbor Act...

  6. 3. Assignments Multiply (1897-1906)
    (pp. 42-71)

    Toward the close of the working season of 1897 Chittenden and his superior, Colonel Amos A. Stickney, were called before a subcommittee of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce that was investigating the causes of the spring floods of that year on the Mississippi River and its tributaries to discover preventive measures. The subcommittee was also concerned about the extent of commercial traffic engendered by waterways improvements in the West. In response to questioning by Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, Chittenden stated that he had little faith in the popular theory of controlling floods on the lower Mississippi by...

  7. 4. Historian (1890-1905)
    (pp. 72-102)

    Chittenden’s passion for historical studies germinated as early as his college years and culminated ultimately in the production of three significant works on the history of the American West. Published within the space of three years wereThe American Fur Trade of the Far West, History of Early Steamboat Navigation on the Missouri River,and, in collaboration with Alfred T. Richardson,Life and Letters of Father Pierre-jean De Smet, S.J.Chittenden’s researches, in spite of his lack of formal historical training, yielded volumes reflecting the transitional historiographical era in which he wrote when the modern tenets of scientific research and...

    (pp. None)
  9. 5. Second Tour in Yellowstone (1899-1906)
    (pp. 103-127)

    When Hiram Chittenden returned to duty in Yellowstone Park, circumstances had changed from the time of his first appointment to that station eight years previously when he had been selected, almost by chance, as the officer who happened to have the appropriate rank for the assignment. Now, in 1899, he had considerable national reputation and the support of powerful political figures. His matured skill as an engineer allowed him to complete by 1906 the assignment—started long before—of constructing the basic road system in the park that essentially prevails to the present, and his persuasiveness enabled him to convince...

  10. 6. Seattle District Engineer (1906-1910)
    (pp. 128-154)

    Fifteen pounds heavier and to all appearances markedly restored in body and spirits, Chittenden left the sanitarium in Wauwatosa on February 3, 1906, to return to Sioux City to discover his new assignment.¹ In quick succession, he received word of his appointment as district engineer in Seattle, closed up his affairs in Sioux City, went through a round of farewell parties with his family, and departed by train for the Northwest. The children were entertained en route by consuming pounds of candy given them by friends and by perusing the latest land office maps of the route which their father...

  11. 7. The Conservation Controversy (1908-1917)
    (pp. 155-185)

    Among the numerous factors contributing to the rise of the organized conservation movement in the United States, historians have long recognized the importance of scientific theories and scientific evidence.¹ One important component of forest conservation theory was the hypothesis that deforestation had radically affected runoff and stream flow. More specifically, conservationists argued that clearing of timber had increased the height and frequency of floods, accelerated soil erosion, and retarded precipitation—all results disastrous for water power, commerce, irrigation, agriculture, and natural beauty. They made predictions that the United States, because of its mistreatment of the forest, would follow many ancient...

  12. 8. Final Labors (1911-1917)
    (pp. 186-210)

    After General Chittenden’s retirement he had more leisure for his family than a military career had ever permitted. He handled the parental tasks of discipline and encouragement, helped Hiram with his algebra, played cards with Eleanor and Teddy, and opened his home to his children’s friends. His brother Clyde moved to Seattle in 1906 and the families of the two brothers often gathered for spontaneous visits as well as for planned occasions such as Thanksgiving Day. His parents came for a long stay in 1909 from their home in Lansing, Michigan, and the purchase of an automobile in 1911 afforded...

  13. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 211-216)
  14. Index
    (pp. 217-220)