Industrial revolution preserved


Oct 02, 2008

Engineering history is being preserved and cataloged through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Engineering, procurement, construction and operations firm CH2M HILL ( has donated more than 36,000 “ink on linen” architectural and engineering drawings from the 1800s, and is making a financial donation to support the archiving of these and other materials to preserve the American engineering heritage.

"This is very exciting for us," says Ralph Peterson, chairman and CEO of CH2M HILL. “These drawings provide a glimpse into the evolution of engineering and immortalize the industrial revolution by showcasing some of the first textile mills and manufacturing facilities. Helping to archive and preserve these drawings for future generations is a privilege and helps to honor the legacy of Lockwood Greene, the oldest American engineering and construction firm in continuous operation.”

Discovered in 1996 at an abandoned Civil War weapons warehouse in Boston, the documents provide a pictorial account of America during the industrial revolution. The drawings handcrafted on linen parchment represent some of the most prominent textile mills, manufacturing facilities, mechanical processes and buildings of the 19th century.

Drawings catalog the first electric-driven manufacturing facility, the Columbia Mills’ textile mill in Columbia, S.C. Lockwood Greene, which was acquired by CH2M HILL in 2003, is credited as being the first company to engineer and apply an electric drive to a manufacturing operation. The 1893 project was undertaken with a new startup company, General Electric, which had been incorporated one year before.

Other early drawings and photographs from this period include office buildings and manufacturing plants for the Baldwin Piano Co., Christian Science Monitor, Palmolive, the International House at Cite Universitaire in Paris, Lewiston Bleachery & Dye Works, Piedmont Manufacturing Co., Pelzer Manufacturing, American Cigar Co., Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co., Gillette, Hewitt Rubber, and numerous cotton and textile mills located across the Eastern Seaboard.

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