US Army Corps of Engineers
Huntington District

A Glimpse into the Past

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Huntington District is the youngest of the four districts that comprised Ohio River Division.  Although the District’s 45,000 square miles encompasses southcentral Ohio, most of it lies in the mountains of West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.  Lying within Appalachia, Huntington District has more flood control dams in operation than any other district.

In postwar years, the Corps of Engineers constructed locks and dams on the Cumberland, Kanawha, Monongahela and upper Ohio rivers.  Because these locks and dams required continual operation, maintenance, and supervision, Corps field offices assumed permanency and were called Districts.  In the Ohio River Basin, Engineer Districts became active at Cincinnati in 1871; Chattanooga, 1873; Louisville, 1886; Nashville, 1888, Pittsburgh 1894; and Wheeling, 1901 (became Huntington District in 1922).

The Huntington District was established July 1, 1922, when a decision was made to close the Wheeling and Second Cincinnati districts and open the consolidated Huntington District office.  Engineer records, office furniture, and families of the Engineer office staff, along with their household furnishings, were loaded onto the sternwheeler, James Rumsey, in Wheeling in late June 1922 to begin the trip down the Ohio River to Huntington.  On July 11, 1922, Captain Johnson docked the James Rumsey at the Twenty-sixth Street landing in Huntington where trucks were waiting to move the office equipment and records into the new offices in the Deegan and Noonan Building located in the 1100 block of  Fourth Avenue.  In the meantime, office staff from the Catlettsburg, Kentucky, suboffice moved to Huntington and opened the District office for business July 1.

Malcolm Elliott, junior engineer at Louisville District who designed huge mitering lock gates for Lock 41 in the Louisville and Portland canal, became Huntington District’s first District Engineer in 1922.  Elliott was responsible for construction and operation of Ohio River Locks and Dams 12-32 and slackwater navigation projects on the Muskingum, Little Kanawha, Kanawha and Big Sandy rivers.  The twenty-five people who made up the district staff assisted in supervision and recordkeeping. 

With the formation of the district came many changes, one of which was the closing of the Catlettsburg (Big Sandy project), Charleston (Kanawha) and Zanesville (Muskingum) suboffices.

The first construction supervised by Huntington District was rapid completion of Ohio River locks and dams that were begun by the Wheeling and Second Cincinnati Districts.  The Ohio River locks and dams in Huntington District opened to navigation in 1926.  Construction was pushed to complete the locks and dams system down river from Huntington and in 1929, the Corps achieved its goal.  The Ohio River canalization project was completed from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois.

After 1929, the key to growth of river commerce was operation of the locks and dams.  In 1931, Major Fred W. Herman, District Engineers, reorganized the Huntington District operations by establishing Engineer suboffices -- Marietta Repair Station, responsible for operation of locks and dame on the Muskingum and Little Kanawha, and Nos. 14-20 on the Ohio; Catlettsburg, responsible for Big Sandy Locks and Dam and Nos. 21-28 on the Ohio; and Charleston, responsible for operation of Kanawha River Locks and Dam in addition to supervision of the modernization program in progress on the Kanawha.

In the spring of 1931, construction began on Marmet and London Locks and Dams.  Construction of Winfield and Gallipolis was approved by Congress in 1933.

               

Vast Military Program

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Huntington District overnight turned from civil works construction to military construction on Dec. 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and start of World War II. The district rushed to construct airports and airfields needed to train airmen in response to Axis nations' air and ground attacks and to bomb German and Japanese troops and cities. Lockbourne Air Base near Columbus was the largest of these bases and by mid-1942 was being used as the first glider pilot training school. By October !942, Lockbourne's use was expanded to a training school for B-17 bomber pilots.

Huntington District built storage and supply depots here in Huntington, in Columbus, and in Zanesville and Shelby, Ohio. To supply the war effort with weapons and ammunition, we built Buckeye Ordnance Works at South Point, Ohio; Marshall Chemical Warfare Service Plant at New Martinsville, W.Va.; Kanawha Chemical Warfare Service Plant in South Charleston; and West Virginia Ordnance Works near Point Pleasant.

An example of the size of these plants is West Virginia Ordnance Works. It was built on 8,250 acres and employed 5,000 workers making TNT in a 12-line production plant. The explosives were stored in 100 concrete igloo-type storage buildings. Workers lived in 350 housing units and dormitories. In addition to the TNT plant, there were administration buildings and shops. This facility was built by the Huntington District in seven months. The District also reconstructed Fletcher General Hospital in Cambridge, Ohio; purchased and converted the Greenbrier Hotel into a hospital, and built a 1000-man prisoner-of-war camp at White Sulphur Springs.

After the war ended in 1945, the District went back to working on its civil works projects. In 1951, military construction was resumed with the outbreak of the Korean War. Nationally, the Corps was ordered to build and rehabilitate more than 700 air bases in the United States and in foreign countries. As a result, the district built or rehabilitated nine air bases, seven in Ohio and two in West Virginia.

After the Korean Conflict ended in 1953, our military work continued, speeding up with the construction of missile bases in the late 50s. During this time, we also built a dozen Army Reserve Centers and two Veterans Administration hospitals. In 1961, the military construction mission was withdrawn from 12 Corps Districts. Huntington was one of these districts.

In recent years, the District has returned to limited military work. Ironically, this work is in the Defense Environmental Restoration Projects and Formerly Used Defense Sites or better known by the acronym, DERP/ FUDS. Two of the largest DERP/FUDS projects in the District is Lockbourne Air Force Base and West Virginia Ordnance Works.

Huntington District Commanders

Colonel Jason Evers assumed command of the Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on July 17, 2018.
COL Leon Parrott
COL B. B. Talley
January 1946 - March 1946
LT COL Harry Pockras
May 1943 - January 1946
COL Wilson B. Higgins
July 1942 - May 1943
LT COL F. H. Falkner
September 1940 - July 1942
LTC J. D. Aruthur Jr
June 1937 - September 1940
LT COL John F. Conklin
July 1934 - June 1937
Major Fred W. Herman
October 1930 - July 1934
Major Edward A. Ardery
May 1927 - October 1930
Maj Harry M. Trippe
June 1923 - May 1927
COL George T. Derby
June 1953 - April 1956
COL William D. Falck
July 1965 - July 1968
Steven Malevich
August 1959 - July 1962
COL Herrol J. Skidmore
April 1956 - August 1959
COL J. O. Colonna
June 1952 - June 1953
COL E. R. O'Brien
March 1952 - June 1952
COL Walter Kreuger, Jr
July 1950 - March 1952
COL D. T. Johnson
October 1949 - July 1950
COL A. M. Neilson
December 1946 - October 1949
COL F. W. Gano
April 1946 - December 1946
LT COL John R. Sharp
March 1946 - April 1946
COL Earle C Richardson
August 1992 - July 1994
COL James R Van Epps
September 1990 - August 1992
COL Thomas E Farewell
September - 1988 - September 1990
COL Robert D Brown
August 1986-September 1988
COL Rober B Wilson
August 1984 - August 1986
COL John W Devens
May 1982 - August 1984
COL Jame H Higman
February 1979 - May 1982
COL George A Bicher
April 1977 - February 1979
COL Scott B Smith
July 1974 - January 1977
COL Maurice D Roush
COL Kenneth E McIntyre
August 1971 - July 1968
COL William D Falck
July 1965 - July 1968
COL Dana Robertson
June 1997 - August 2000
COL Dana R. Hurst
July 2006 - July 2009
COL William E Bulen
July 2003 - July 2006
COL Richard W Jemiola
July 1994 - June 1997
COL Philip M. Secrist III
Colonel Robert D. Peterson
COL William E. Bulen Jr

Understanding Our Roots

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the nation's engineer and water manager, a title and responsibility acquired very early in the nation's history.

In 1802, Congress reestablished the Corps of Engineers · and directed that an engineering school be established at West Point. This engineering college, the United States Military Academy, was the only engineering school in the United States until 1825. This action was taken to answer the nation's need for engineers to develop the infrastructure needed to bring the wide-spread former colonies closer together and to look to new lands beyond the Appalachians.

So in the building of our nation, the only engineers were Army officers. One of the first accomplishments of the Army Corps of Engineers was the building of a national road that reached into the Ohio Valley. By 1819, this road extended through Maryland's Cumberland Valley to Wheeling.

In 1824, Congress passed two acts that shaped the future of the Corps of Engineers. The General Survey Act authorized the President to use Army Engineers to survey road and canal routes; the Waterways Improvement Act directed the improvement of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers for the common benefit of the nation. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky amended the bill authorizing the President to assign this work to the Army Corps of Engineers.

When Clay argued for the adoption of the Waterways Improvement Act, he said that, "the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers were the common commercial highways of all who inhabit the vast regions through which they flow." These great rivers, he said, were the property of no state and should be treated as common stock and national property.  Knowing our history is important. It helps to understand who we are, and why we have our unique work responsibilities.