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AP Davis, Director Reclamation Service
Arthur P. Davis, Director,
Reclamation Service, 1914-1923.

The nephew of John Wesley Powell, Arthur Powell Davis administered many of the plans his uncle first conceived concerning water use in the West. Born in 1861 in Decatur, Illinois, Davis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Columbian (now George Washington) University in 1888. Through his uncle's help, Davis worked as a topographer for U.S. Geological Survey from 1884 to 1894. Davis promoted to hydrographer in charge of government stream measurements in 1895. Three years later, in 1898, he oversaw the hydrographic examination of Nicaragua and Panama Canal routes. In 1906, Davis became Chief Engineer of the Reclamation Service, a position he held until his appointment to Director on December 10, 1914. During his tenure as Director, Reclamation outlined the development of the Colorado River Basin before Congress in 1922. Davis was the first to recommend construction of multipurpose dams whose powerplants would amortize costs of total project. The name of Reclamation Service changed to Bureau of Reclamation on June 18, 1923. Davis retired the following day. Davis Dam on the Colorado River is named for him. He died in Oakland, California, in 1933.

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Last Updated:  July 13, 2009