drawing of Elwood MeadElwood Mead, Commissioner

Elwood Mead, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, 1924 - 1936.

Mead came to Reclamation with experience in the academic, legislative, and practical fields of irrigation. Born in 1858 in Patriot, Indiana, Mead graduated from Purdue with Bachelor of Science degree in 1882. He earned his Doctorate in Civil Engineering from Iowa State College in 1883, and taught Mathematics at Colorado Agriculture College from 1883-84 and 1886-88. As territorial and state engineer of Wyoming, Mead devised the state's first water laws during 1888 to 1899. He also worked as chief of investigation and drainage irrigation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1897 to 1907. In 1907, Mead accepted the position of Chairman of State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in Victoria, Australia. Eight years later, he returned to the United States as professor of Rural Institutions, University of California, and chairman of the California Land Settlement Board, 1915-1924. Appointed Commissioner of Reclamation in 1924, Mead directed the development of many monumental Reclamation undertakings, notably Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee, and Owyhee. Mead died in office on January 26, 1936. Lake Mead, behind Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam), was named in his honor in 1936.


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Last Updated: 7/28/15