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Book Chronicles History of Southern Nevada Infrastructure

February 2010 Volume 35, Number 2

Short Takes

Southern Nevada is more than just a vacation mecca for gamblers and aged celebrities. It is a place with a rich civil engineering history, according to a book written by the Life Member Forum of the Nevada Section’s Southern Nevada Branch. Entitled From the Spanish Trail to the Monorail: A History of Civil Engineering Infrastructure in Southern Nevada, the work describes a variety of civil engineering projects that have far-reaching effects on both the region and the nation.

The book highlights such infrastructure projects as the Old Spanish Trail, which was constructed in 1848 and served to promote trade in the Southwest; the construction of Hoover Dam in the early 20th century; and the recent construction of that dam’s bypass bridge and of the River Mountains Water Treatment Facility. The purpose of the book is to “develop a better appreciation of the stories behind infrastructure and how this impacts the quality of life for Southern Nevadans,” according to a press release by the branch.

“Before building infrastructure, people spent most of their time on the necessities of life.... Today, because of infrastructure, people are able to spend less time on the necessities of life and more time doing the things they want to do,” writes Charles R. Parrish, P.E., M.ASCE, a member of the Life Member Forum, in the book’s foreword. “We believe that it is important that the historical works record of civil engineers not be lost as things change,” he adds, noting that the book was written with young people in mind.

The book’s chapters reflect the various branches of civil engineering that come into play with infrastructure, for example, water, mining, highways, railroads, wastewater, dams, and the construction of nuclear testing and storage facilities. The descriptions of the projects also include narratives about the engineers involved, among them Frank Crowe (Hon.M.ASCE) and John L. Savage (Hon.M.ASCE), who helped design and construct Hoover Dam, as well as about those who helped realize the projects, sometimes pushing the boundaries of the civil engineering practice at the time.

For additional information about the book, contact Parrish at To purchase a copy, contact Jason Blair, P.E., M.ASCE, the secretary of the Southern Nevada Branch, at