History & Heritage Committee

Around the same time as ASCE established its History and Heritage Program (1964), the NCS established its own H&H Committee. The prime mover behind these efforts was Neal FitzSimons, an active member and Past President of the National Capital Section, and an ASCE VP. Over the years, the NCS H&H Committee has been a leader and model for other Sections throughout ASCE. The NCS H&H Committee has been involved in ASCE’s Landmark Program; has led Conferences and Symposiums; delivered interesting presentations at Section Meetings; and conducted many educational field trips throughout the region served by NCS.  If you are interested in joining our exciting and insight-filled efforts, send a message on your interest(s) to Bernie Dennis, a Committee Co-Chair.

American Civil Engineering has quietly shaped the history of our nation and every community within it. Unfortunately, the contributions of civil engineers have often gone unnoticed by the public, and even by engineers themselves.

In 1964, ASCE set out to remedy this situation by establishing the Committee on History and Heritage of American Civil Engineering (CHHACE). Now known as the ASCE History & Heritage Committee, it is charged with enhancing the knowledge and appreciation of our civil engineering history and heritage, and the program recognizes national and international accomplishments.

To date, more than 200 projects worldwide have earned this prominent ASCE Historic Civil Engineering Landmark designation; recognizing the creativity and innovative spirit of civil engineers. Almost always performed under challenging conditions, each of these engineering feats represents the achievement of what was considered an impossible dream.

The Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Program provides guidelines for nominating sites for consideration. ASCE Sections must present research documenting the significant contribution the project made to the development of the region; the United States; or other countries, and, to advancing the profession of civil engineering in particular. Additionally, to be considered, projects must have achieved 50 years of age. A database of designated landmarks is available at the ASEC web site; however, while ASCE website reconstruction efforts are underway, a list of these landmarks can be found on Wikipedia - Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks.

The DC, MD, VA region is rich with examples of outstanding historic civil engineering landmarks, as can be seen in the tabulation below.

The five National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks (NHCELs) in the DC region, that our NCS H&H Committee worked on to be so designated, are highlighted in green.

Landmark Location Year Designated
Bollman Truss Bridge Savage, Maryland 1966
Patowmack Canal & Locks Great Falls, Virginia 1969
Druid Lake Dam Baltimore, MD 1971
Cabin John Aqueduct Cabin John, Maryland 1972
Crozet's Blue Ridge Tunnel Waynesboro, VA 1976
Mason-Dixon Line DE-MD-PA-VA Boundary 1977
Gosport Naval Dry Docks Norfolk, VA 1977
Fink Deck Truss Bridge Lynchburg, VA 1979
Washington Monument Washington, DC 1981
Carrollton Viaduct Baltimore, MD 1982
US Capitol Dome Washington, DC 1986
Dismal Swamp Canal Chesapeake, VA 1987
Blue Ridge Parkway VA-NC 1999
Old Cape Henry Lighthouse Virginia Beach, VA 2002
Thomas Viaduct Elkridge, MD 2010