Austin History Center

Harry Lewis Cobb Austin Dam Reconstruction Photograph Album

An Inventory of the Collection



Overview of the Collection

Creator: Cobb, Harry Lewis
Title: Harry Lewis Cobb Austin Dam Reconstruction Photograph Album
Abstract: Harry Lewis Cobb was the resident engineer in charge of the Austin Dam reconstruction project in Austin, Texas from August 1911 to July 1917. An album with 720 black and white photographs taken by Cobb documents the damage to the Austin Dam and its reconstruction from 1911-1918.
Identification: AR.2006.008
Quantity: .8 linear feet (1 album, 720 photographs)
Location: Outer Vault
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library
810 Guadalupe, , PO BOX 2287, , Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Harry Lewis Cobb was the resident engineer in charge of the Austin Dam reconstruction project from August 1911-July 1917. He was married to Jessamine. They lived at 1202 West 22nd Street. He does not appear in the Austin city directories after 1920. No further information is known about him.

The Austin Dam was first conceived in 1871 and built on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas between 1890 and 1893. It formed Lake McDonald (now Lake Austin), named for Mayor John McDonald who spearheaded the project. The lake was a popular recreational area for residents and tourists. In April 1900, heavy rains caused more water flow than the dam could handle, and the dam broke in a catastrophic incident. Reconstruction of the dam began in 1912. Engineers learned from the problems of the previous dam and designed a hollow reinforced-concrete shell with curves to accommodate large volumes of water. The new dam also included floodgates to regulate lake levels. In 1915, as completion was nearing for the reconstruction project, floodwaters hit again. Dam operators realized that there were still problems in the dam design as the floodgates could not release enough water. Another dam was not built at this site until 1938. The new dam was named the Tom Miller Dam.


Scope and Contents

An album with 720 black and white photographs taken, developed and printed by Harry Lewis Cobb documents the damage to the Austin Dam and its reconstruction from 1911 to 1918. The images depict the original damaged dam from multiple angles; construction equipment; hydraulics machinery; men and horses (mules?) at work; construction of new power lines; installation of new pipes; group portraits of work crews; the completed dam with water rushing through the floodgates; views of the surrounding area. There is also a portrait of Cobb on the first page. Some images are made from multiple prints lined up and glued together to form wide-angle views of the area. There are handwritten inscriptions on the first page, but otherwise no captions. Many photographs have the month and date inscribed on the edges.

The album received water damage at some point which ruined the emulsion on many of the photographs. For preservations purposes, the binding of the album has been undone and pages have been put in individual Mylar sleeves. Photos that have detached from their pages have also been individually sleeved, but left with their corresponding page.


Arrangement

The photographs were arranged in the album in chronological order. They were numbered in the order they appear in the album.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Open to all users. Users should consult the digital photos of the album pages instead of the original album as much as possible in order to minimize handling of the fragile album.

Restrictions on Use

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Persons:
Cobb, Harry Lewis.
Places:
Austin (Tex.)--Pictorial works.
Colorado River (Tex.)--Pictorial works.
Lake Austin (Austin, Tex.)--Pictorial works.
Subjects:
Construction projects--Texas--Austin.
Dams--Texas--Austin.
Engineering.
Photography--Texas--Austin.
Document Types:
Black-and-white photographs.
Photograph albums.

Related Material

Austin Files


  • AF – Dams - Austin Dam, 1912-1915 D0100(3)
  • AF – Engineering E1400
  • AF – Lake Austin L0300

General Collection


  • A 327.8 BA Report on Changes of Contract Design for Austin Dam
  • A 621.312134 GA A Report Upon the Austin Dam and Its Completion
  • A 621.312134 HA Report for City of Austin, Texas on Power Losses and Property Values of Austin Dam
  • A 627.8 AU 1938 Austin Dam Contract, 1938
  • A 627.8 AUC765R Report for City of Austin, Texas on the Construction of A Low Dam in the Colorado River
  • A 627.8 FR Report of Jos. P. Frizell, Civil Engineer, on the Proposed Dam and Waterworks for the City of Austin, Texas, and Report of Consulting Engineer
  • A 627.8 MA The Great Dam and Water and Light System at Austin, Texas
  • A 627.8 ME Report on the Dam and Water Power Development at Austin, Texas
  • A 627.8 TA A Paper on the Reconstruction of the Dam at Austin, Texas
  • A 627.8 TA The Austin Dam
  • A 627.809764 CU Tom Miller Dam and Lake Austin
  • A 627.809764 HO Hollow Reinforce-concrete Structure Replaces Dam at Austin, Texas, Which Failed Fifteen Years Ago
  • A 627.83 AU Austin Dam
  • A 627.83 AU The Austin, Texas Dam


Administrative Information

Custodial History

The album had been discarded and then found by Neal E. Armstrong of the University of Texas at Austin Department of Civil Engineering.

Preferred Citation

Harry Lewis Cobb Austin Dam Reconstruction Photograph Album (AR.2006.008). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2006/017

Donation Date: 2006 February 22

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Nicole Davis/March 2015.

Alternative Form Available

Digital scans of the pages are available in the Digital Collections Box in the Reading Room.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Location Box
Reading Room Digital Photo Collections Digital scans of the pages are available in the Digital Collections Box in the Reading Room. These should be used instead of the physical album as much as possible.



Location PhotoAlbum
Outer Vault 142 Photograph album, 1911-1918