Enoch R. Needles


Enoch R. Needles

Civil Engineer – Designer – Bridge Buildre – Road Builder – General Consultant

Construction – Business Organization – Administration – Finance – Expressways

Twenty-sixth National Honor Member Nominated by the Missouri School of Mines Chapter in 1953

Enoch Ray Needles graduated from the Missouri School of Mines in 1914 with his degree of bachelor of science in civil engineering. Born October 28, 1888, at Brookfield, Missouri, he graduated from high school in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1906. His early inclinations were toward working out-of-doors and toward observing the building of things. Before and just after leaving the School of Mines campus, he gained his first experience in park and boulevard surveying, railway valuation, and mine surveying in and near Kansas City, Missouri. He then accepted a job as draftsman in the tract department of the Kansas City Terminal Railway (1915) and transferred to the bridge department of that road in 1916. Entering private employ in 1917, he left for Florida in 1919 for his first major assignment – resident engineer on construction of the first highway bridge over the St. Johns River at Jacksonville, Florida.

Mr. Needles had decided to cast his lot with private consultants and accepted employment in the firm of Harrington, Howard and Ash, bridge engineers (1917-28). In that period, he had earned the degree of civil engineer from his alma mater (1920). In 1922, he was sent by his firm to open their office in New York City, which was thereafter his headquarters. The firm of Ash, Howard, Needles and Tammen, formed in 1928, was concerned primarily with the design and construction supervision of fixed and movable bridges. The firm, in this period, from 1928 to World War II, undertook a great variety of work on well-known projects, including the Burlington Bristol Bridge over the Delaware River; Mississippi River Bridges at Natchez; Greenville and Rock Island; the South Omaha Bridge over the Missouri River; and other bridges across the Neches, Shrewsbury, Passaic, and Raritan rivers. This firm also was engaged on the design of the Harlem River and the Bronx Kills lift span portions of the Triborough Bridge in New York City, and they served as general consultants on the Pulaski Skyway.

Mr. Needles served in 1941 and 1942 as resident partner on projects contributing to the winning of World War II, such as the Southwestern Proving Ground at Hope, Arkansas, and the Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant near Waco, Texas. From December, 1942, to July, 1944, he served as lieutenant colonel, Corps of Engineers, in the office of the Chief of Engineers, being in charge of the redistribution of construction materials and equipment. He became a colonel in July, 1944, and concluded his service in November, 1945. He was also given special assignments to Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and the 1943 Quebec Conference. For this service, he received the Legion of Merit. The Missouri School of Mines had awarded him the honorary degree of doctor of engineering in 1937.

Beginning in 1946, and for six years thereafter, Mr. Needles gave particular attention to the development, design, and construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge near Wilmington, Delaware. He became particularly concerned with the financing, design, and construction of many of the major expressways and turnpikes that sprang into popularity immediately after World War II. He was personally connected with the original Maine Turnpike, the first modern turnpike to be planned and build on a fully self-supporting basis. Beginning in 1949, he was active in the financing, design, and construction of the New Jersey Turnpike. His connection with that project continued, to include the extension that connects the original turnpike in the vicinity of Newark Airport with the Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River. This extension is approximately eight miles long and was difficult construction, as reflected in its cost of about $10,000,000 a mile.

In addition to the foregoing turnpike projects, Mr. Needles’ firm has been prominently identified with turnpikes in ten other states. His firm was general consultants, designers, and/or supervisors of construction on the Maine Turnpike, the Connecticut River Bridge at Old Lyme, the two Delaware Memorial Bridges, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Massachusetts Turnpike, the West Virginia Turnpike, the Newark Bay Bridge, the Jersey City Expressway, the Bruckner Boulevard Extension, the Southern State Parkway Dualization in Long Island, extensive work on federal interstate highway projects in many states, and numerous other projects.

Enoch Needles was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, Tau Beta Pi, and Phi Kappa Phi, as well as Chi Epsilon. He joined the American Society of Civil Engineers and served that society in numerous important posts, including president of the Metropolitan Section in 1940; national director, 1937-39; vice-president, 1954-55; and president in 1956. He was a member of the Engineers Council for Professional Development, the American Institute of Consulting Engineers (president in 1946), and the American Road Builders Association (president, 1949-50). He served in 1958-59 as president of Engineers Joint Council, a federation of some seventeen national engineering organizations with a total membership of more than 250,000 members. He was a member of the Society of American Military Engineers, American Concrete Institute, and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

On September 12, 1916, he was married to Ethel Schuman of Rolla, Missouri. They had six children, seventeen grandchildren, and a steadily increasing number of great-grandchildren.

In the spring of 1953, the Missouri School of Mines chapter of Chi Epsilon elected Enoch Ray Needles as its Chapter Honor Member, and on May 6, 1966, he was honored by being made a National Honor Member of Chi Epsilon, the twenty-sixth so elevated in the forty-four year history of the Fraternity.

In 1963, he retired as an active partner of his firm and became a member of its advisory board. He had always taken greatest pride in his very fine and unusual partners and their great friendship, their great engineering organization with its personnel of over twelve hundred, and the many years over which this partnership persisted and prospered.

In 1965, the American Road Builders’ Association honored Mr. Needles by naming an office for their engineering division in their newly constructed Washington building, “the Needles Room”. There is also a “Needles Room” for conference purposes in the civil engineering building of his alma mater.

Enoch Needles joined the eternal partnership on January 3, 1972, at the age of 83.

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