Orange County Branch Newsletter

August 2013

Branch News

Branch News - OC Branch's 60th Anniversary Tour

By William Lawson, PE

The Orange County Branch is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year and to commemorate this important event the Branch decided to organize for the membership a tour of some of the Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks (HCEL's) in Orange County. The Branch's History and Heritage Committee has dedicated a total of fifteen Local, State and National recognition plaques at twelve historic Civil Engineering sites or facilities in Orange County since the late Fred Meier began implementing ASCE's HCEL program with plaque dedications in approximately 1982. The Branch's Tour Planning Committee, lead by Branch Vice President Penny Lew, selected five of these sites to visit on the 60th Anniversary Historic Landmark Tour which took place on Saturday, July 20, 2013.

The five sites visited on the tour included four Orange County Local HCEL plaque dedication sites, as follows:

1. Mission San Juan Capistrano; 2. Irvine Ranch Irrigation System (at Peters Canyon Regional Park); 3. Newport  Harbor; and 4. John Wayne Airport.

The fifth site was a Los Angeles Section Local HCEL related site located within Orange County, the Seal Beach Red Car Museum.

Prior to beginning the tour, YMF members handed out tote bags specially designed for this 60th Anniversary event.  Each participant received a tote bag, commemorative ASCE drinking glass with lid and straw, and a 60th Anniversary ball point pen with a tablet stylus on the reverse end.  Bottled drinking water was also provided to all participants. 

The tour began at 8:30 AM with 40 OC Branch and YMF members boarding a bus at ASCE's office in Tustin, CA (Gayle Stewart Enterprises). The first stop was Mission San Juan Capistrano where the group was met and welcomed by OC Branch Past President Ziad Mazboudi, PE. The group was then divided into three smaller groups led by Mission docents and given a short tour of the historic Mission, including a brief stop at ASCE's HCEL plaque which was dedicated there in 1993.

After re-boarding the bus, the tour continued on to Peters Canyon Regional Park which is located just west of Jamboree Road on Canyon View Avenue in Orange, CA.  We were met there by OC Parks Rangers who helped the tour members disembark at the 2011 HCEL plaque dedication location.  OC Branch Past President Carl Nelson, PE, gave a brief presentation about the Irvine Ranch Irrigation System, which was founded by James Irvine II in 1893, and about water resources development on the ranch that continued into the 1970's. Carl also provided tour members with a map of the Historic Water Resources of the Irvine Ranch and a photo of the Peters Canyon Dam outlet tower.

The tour then moved on to Corona del Mar and a small park called "Lookout Point" which overlooks Newport Harbor, or Newport Bay as it also called.  After negotiating heavy traffic on PCH and narrow streets connecting to Ocean Boulevard, we were met at the park by Chris Miller of the City of Newport Beach who gave the tour group, and other passers-by, an overview of the harbor's history including the construction of the jetties at the harbor entrance, and more recent improvements including a massive dredging project needed to remove contaminated sediment and to deepen the harbor.  Mr. Miller provided the tour members with copies of Newport Harbor maps and exhibits showing the dredging work areas. Following the presentation, box lunches from 'Subway' were distributed to the tour members and lunch was enjoyed on the park lawn near the ASCE HCEL plaque that was dedicated there in 1996.

After lunch the tour headed north on PCH to Seal Beach and the Red Car Museum located on Electric Avenue just north of Main Street.  We were met there by "Marie", President of the Seal Beach Historical Society, her husband (and former City Council member), and two other SBHS members that provided the tour group with some historical background on the Pacific Electric Railway and its contribution to the development of the City of Seal Beach.  The tour group was divided into three smaller groups to visit the inside of the Red Car Museum which was originally what was called a Tower Car or Box Motor Car.  In its day, this car was used to maintain the PE Railway's overhead electric service lines. A photo of the entire ASCE OC Branch group was taken following the Museum tour.  ASCE does not have a plaque at the Red Car Museum, but some members did notice the plaque dedicated there in 1976 by the Orange County Historical Commission (Historical Site No. 10). The Pacific Electric Railway was designated as a Local HCEL by the Los Angeles Section of ASCE in 1973.

Boarding the bus one more time we then travelled to John Wayne Airport where we were met by Mr. Steve Carrillo, PE, JWA Senior Engineer, and an assistant. A brief tour of the new Terminal "C" parking structure, ticketing and departure area (upper level) and baggage claim area (lower level) was conducted by Mr. Carrillo, with special emphasis on the unique structural design of the buildings. The new electronic parking availability system, and the universal electronic check-in and flight status boards were also discussed.  Due to time limitations we were not able to visit the ASCE HCEL plaque located in the baggage claim area (lower level) of Terminal "B" which was dedicated at JWA in 2011.  On completion of this final segment of our tour we returned to the ASCE office in Tustin at about 4:40 PM.

Numerous photographs were taken by various members of the tour group.  A small sampling of those photos is provided in the following Photo Gallery.  Additional information regarding the various OC Branch Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks can be found on the History and Heritage Committee page of the OC Branch's website, or by clicking HERE.

The ASCE Orange County Branch wishes to thank everyone that contributed to making the 60th Anniversary Historic Landmark Tour a success, and especially the Tour Planning Committee comprised of Penny Lew, Bill Lawson, Ravi Shah, Josue Vaglienty, Tapas Duta, Gary Gilbert, Joshua Nelson and Carl Nelson.