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Contact: Jason Wanlass, University Communications
(801) 626-6347

Famous Utah Company to be Centerpiece of WSU Symposium
Wednesday, September 19, 2001

OGDEN, Utah - Most people have heard of Hoover Dam, the highest concrete arch-gravity dam in the world, but do they know who built it?

The history of one of the nation's largest construction companies will unfold during a one-of-a-kind celebration and symposium Oct. 10-11 at Weber State University. The event will open the valuable and extensive Utah Construction/Utah International Collection in the Stewart Library Special Collections area. Dozens of company photographs and records, reflecting national and world events, will be on display.

The collection, which contains some 500,000 photographs and extensive company documents, was recently donated to WSU in part by Edmund Wattis Littlefield, a former Utah Construction president and chairman of the Board of Directors. Littlefield is grandson to Edmund O. Wattis, one of the company's founders.

The two-day event will open with a public reception and photographic exhibit Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. A keynote lecture, "Why Place Matters: Lessons from Los Angeles for a Changing West," will be delivered Oct. 11 at 11 a.m. by author Robert Gottlieb, professor of Urban Environmental Studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Gottlieb is the author of nine books including "America's Saints," "Empires in the Sun," and "Environmentalism Unbound: Exploring New Pathways for Change."

The Utah Construction Company was founded in Ogden, Utah, in 1900. It expanded its mining and building projects into 13 nations on five continents before merging with General Electric.

In founding the company, Wattis and his brothers William H. Wattis and Warren L. Wattis enlisted the help of bankers Thomas D. Dee, David Eccles, Joseph Clark and James Pinegree. The company first built railroads in the West and Mexico, and then bid successfully in 1931 to construct Hoover Dam for the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. As cost estimates for the dam mounted, Utah Construction became a major partner in Six Companies, which completed the dam in 1935, a year ahead of schedule. During World War II, the company undertook projects at Pearl Harbor and in Guam, and participated in building the Alaska Military Highway.

In 1944, Utah Construction acquired its first mine, and mining became a major venture, prompting a company name change to Utah Construction & Mining Company. In 1967, the privately owned company issued public stock. As its enterprises expanded, it adopted the name Utah International, Inc. In 1976, the company merged with General Electric. It was the largest merger in U.S. history to that time.

All symposium events are free to the public. The photographic exhibit will stand in Special Collections through December. A smaller exhibit may be viewed in the bridge gallery of Shepherd Union Building through October. For parking information call (801) 626-6533. For additional information call (801) 626-7351.



Brothers Edmund O. Wattis, William H. Wattis, and Warren L. Wattis joined forces, in 1900, with prominent Ogden bankers to found the Utah Construction Company. The new company succeeded Corey Brothers, a freighting and railroad company.

Thomas D. Dee was a self-educated immigrant who became an attorney, a municipal judge, and vice president of the National Bank of Ogden. In 1900, Dee became a stockholder and the first president of the Utah Construction Company.

The entrepreneurial gifts of David Eccles took him from his early work in timber camps to creating 27 corporations including the First Security Bank. A founding stockholder, Eccles became the second president of Utah Construction Company.

In 1969, the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under sticker label "UC." At right, Edmund Littlefield is welcomed by stock exchange president Robert W. Haack and by stock specialist John V. Seskis.

The company's impressive performance on the $22 million Feather River line for Western Pacific Railroad, beginning in 1905, led to many other railroad contracts. The final spike was driven on the Spanish Creek Bridge in 1910.

In 1931, Utah Construction successfully bid to construct the $55 million Hoover Dam for the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Finished well ahead of schedule, the structure remains the highest concrete arch-gravity dam in the world.

Shown in 1933 are: Normal Gallison, H. L. Lawler, Brig Young, Charles Shea, Edmund O. Wattis, Elwood Mead, Frank Crowe, R.F. Walters, and W. A. Bechtel. Crowe was project superintendent. Young, Mead, and Walters represented the Bureau of Reclamation. The rest were officials of Six Companies, in which Utah Construction was a major partner.

Weeks after the 1941 bombing attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese warships were reported in Alaskan waters. Between 1941 and 1943, the company became a partner in building the Alaska Military Highway to connect Alaska with the contiguous United States.

In 1957, Utah Construction acquired Lucky Mc stock in Wyoming in return for arranging financing, and for negotiating a contract with Atomic Energy Commission. The profitable mine gave Utah Construction & Mining a strategic position in the nuclear industry.

Ultimately, the company explored, developed the metallurgical process, designed, engineered, and constructed the facilities at Lucky Mc, as well as performing open pit and strip mining.

Under a long term contract with the Navajo Nation, the company identified a huge deposit of subituminous coal in northern New Mexico and promoted the concept of burning coal to generate electricity, something already done in the East. In 1963, the mine became one of the largest in the United States.

In 1964, the company installed an underground control center for Minuteman missile launching facilities at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Here, a silo liner is installed.

Utah Mining & Construction blasted and leveled roads in the Rockies near Colorado Springs in order to build an underground combat operations center known as NORAD in the heart of Cheyenne Mountain.

The company contracted with the United States Department of Engineers for nearly $6 million to build the combat operations center.

In 1955-1956, following the Korean War, the company contracted with the United States government to furnish professional advisors for the building of two extensions of the Korean National Railway.

Tumut Pond Dam was built, in 1965, as part of the Snowy Mountain Scheme, a series of dams and power plants to provide water and electricity to Victoria, Australia.
Additional Contact(s): Linda Sillatoe, Stewart Library public outreach coordinator
(801) 626-7351

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