Julian Hinds


Julian Hinds

Administrator – Designer – Civil Engineer – Consultant – Public Servant

Reclamation – Water Control Structures – Construction – Dams – Reservoirs – Canals

Thirteenth National Honor Member Nominated by the University of Southern California Chapter

A nationally known authority in the field of water supply, Julian Hinds served the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from its inception in 1929 until his retirement in 1951, as its general manager and chief engineer. He was born in Warrenton, Alabama, December 22, 1881. He was graduated from the University of Texas in 1908 with the degree of bachelor of science in civil engineering. Following graduation, he served as instructor in civil engineering and drawing at that institution for one year. His first practical experience was in railroading . . . with the Southern Pacific; the Gulf, Texas, and Western; and the bridge department of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul.

From 1910 to 1926, he served with the Bureau of Reclamation (first known as the U.S. Reclamation Service), moving through the grades of surveyman, junior engineer, assistant engineer, engineer, chief draftsman, and assistant chief designing engineer, working on a wide variety of assignments involved in western reclamation. His first service was at Sunnyside, Washington, on the Yakima-Sunnyside Project, where he was engaged in the design of distribution canals, laterals, and water-control structures. Next, he became office engineer on the construction of the Elephant Butte Dam and Reservoir in New Mexico. In 1915, he was transferred to the bureau’s newly established central engineering office in Denver, Colorado, where he served as designer, chief draftsman, and assistant chief designing engineer on a wide variety of assignments.

From 1926 to 1929, Mr. Hinds was identified with the J. G. White Engineering Corporation on hydraulic work for the Republic of Mexico, where he was in charge of investigating, planning, and building the Calles Project in the State of Aguascalientes. This project involved the construction of a massive arch storage dam (one of the early trial load arches), a multiple arch diversion dam, and a system of main canals and laterals, with various appurtenant structures. He also served in an advisory capacity on other projects in Mexico, including the Rio Conchos Project and the Don Martin Dam. The latter was a pioneer example of the round-head buttress design. The phenomenal growth of Los Angeles, which began in the nineteen twenties, brought home to the residents of Southern California the necessity of expanding their water supply by going to the one untapped source available at that time, the Colorado River. Following the formation of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in 1928, the reconnaissance was started on storage works and an aqueduct to bring water from the Colorado River to the coastal area.

Mr. Hinds first served the project in the capacity of hydraulic design engineer, Department of Water and Power, City of Los Angeles, in charge of office work on preliminary investigations, designs, and estimates for the then proposed Colorado River aqueduct (1929). Later, as chief designing engineer for the Metropolitan Water District, (1930-1933), he was in charge of the preparation of final designs and specifications for the project, consisting of a number of reservoirs, five major pumping plants, and more than 300 miles of waterways. In the position of assistant chief engineer during the latter part of the construction period (1933-1941), Mr. Hinds took over much of the administrative work on the project. From its completion in 1941 until his retirement in 1951, he was general manager and chief engineer of the district. During this period, also, he was a special lecturer at the University of Southern California, and for a number of years served on the Board of Examiners for Civil Engineers for the State of California.

When Mr. Hinds came to the Metropolitan Water District in 1929, it consisted of 13 cities, with an area of 600 square miles, a population of about 1.5 million and an assessed valuation of about $2.2 billion. When he left, at the end of 1951, the district had an area of 1127 square miles, containing 35 cities, with a population of 3.6 million, and an assessed valuation of $4.7 billion. It is still growing, and in 1967 covered an area of 4500 square miles, containing 121 cities, population 9.8 million, and an assessed valuation of $21.0 billion. Upon retirement, from 1951 through 1955, Mr. Hinds served as part-time general manager and chief engineer of the United Water Conservation District of Ventura County. Concurrently with and following this assignment, he took up consulting work, working with the Bechtel Corporation, the federal government, the State of California, and other public and private agencies.

He holds membership in ASCE, AWWA, the Inter-American Association of Sanitary Engineers, International Commission of Large Dams, the Engineers Club of Los Angeles, honorary member of Engineers Club of Ventura County, the Beavers, the University Club of Los Angeles, the Commonwealth Club of California, the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, California State Chamber of Commerce, and the American Concrete Institute. He also served on the Water and Power Resources Task Force of the Hoover Commission (1953-55).

He joined the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1923, served actively on many committees and was a national director, 1948-50. He was made national honorary member in 1959. The society awarded him the Norman Medal for his paper “Side Channel Spillways” in 1926 and again in 1954, he received the Rickey Gold Medal for his paper “Continuous Development of Dams Since 1850,” presented before the Society at the Centennial of Engineering in Chicago, Illinois, in 1952. He was nominated for the grade of National Honor Member of Chi Epsilon by the University of Southern California chapter and elevated by the Fraternity at Los Angeles, California, in 1948. In 1956, Julian Hinds received the “Golden Beaver Award;” 1957, an Honorary LLD from the University of California; I960, Distinguished Graduate, University of Texas; 1963, Award of Merit, California Contractors Association; and in 1967 he was honored by the Metropolitan District, which he served for twenty years, when the Colorado River Aqueduct Pumping Plant at Hayfield was named the Julian Hinds Pumping Plant. The aqueduct itself, for which he had such deep responsibilities, was named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the “Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders of the United States.”

A quiet, sure-footed practicality characterizes Julian Hinds’ very active career. A delightful saving sense of humor has been his modest defense against pride, no matter how great his honors have been.

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