Waterways Experiment Station

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Waterways Experiment Station
Waterways Experiment Station is located in Mississippi
Waterways Experiment Station
Location Roughly bounded by Spillway, Durden Creek, Tennessee Rd., and Dam Spillway, Vicksburg, Mississippi
Coordinates 32°17′50″N 90°52′10″W / 32.29722°N 90.86944°W / 32.29722; -90.86944Coordinates: 32°17′50″N 90°52′10″W / 32.29722°N 90.86944°W / 32.29722; -90.86944
Area 673 acres (272 ha)
Built 1930
Architect US Army Corps of Engineers
Architectural style WES
NRHP Reference # 00001511[1]
Added to NRHP December 13, 2000

The Waterways Experiment Station, also known as WES-Original Cantonment in Vicksburg, Mississippi, is a sprawling 673-acre (272 ha) complex built in 1930 as an United States Army Corps of Engineers research facility. Its campus is the site of the headquarters of the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) of the Corps of Engineers. WES is the largest of the four Corps of Engineers' research and development laboratories.

The facility was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2000 in part for its architecture. The listing was for a 16-acre (6.5 ha) area roughly bounded by Spillway, Durden Creek, Tennessee Rd., and Dam Spillway, in Vicksburg, with five contributing buildings and three contributing structures.[1]

WES was established in response to one of the nation's most destructive natural disasters - the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. WES's role as the first federal hydraulics research facility was to help the Mississippi River Commission develop and implement a flood control plan for the lower Mississippi Valley. Its first river model was dug in natural soil with a grapefruit knife. From those modest beginnings, WES has grown steadily to become perhaps the largest and most sophisticated research facility of its kind in the world.

Today there are over 1,200 employees, including several full-time members of the United States Armed Forces. Over 650 of these employees are engineers and scientists who are widely known and respected for their work in such diverse areas as hydraulics, oceanography, chemistry, electronics, physics, mathematics, soils, seismology, limnology, forestry, microbiology - virtually every major scientific and engineering discipline.

WES research is carried out in five separate, but closely interrelated laboratories: Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, Geotechnical Laboratory, Structures Laboratory, Environmental Laboratory, and Information Technology Laboratory.

The history of engineering is the story of men and women in their attempts to understand, control, and accommodate their environment. In 1929 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established a small hydraulics laboratory in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in recognition of the increasingly vital role of scientific investigation in a laboratory setting as a necessary adjunct to the age-old practice of actual hands-on observation. Discoveries emanating from the laboratory, designated as the Waterways Experiment Station, paid immediate dividends and sparked a new confidence among the nation’s engineering community to make bold advancements and challenge or affirm long-standing doctrines. This initial success broadened the Waterways Experiment Station’s activities from mere hydraulic experiments for the Mississippi River to a Corp of Engineers-wide mission encompassing diverse fields of research.[2][3]


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