A Century in the Works
Freese and Nichols, Consulting Engineers, 1894-1994
Business History
6 x 9, 456 pp.
45 b&w photos., 2 tables.
Pub Date: 06/01/2000
  hardcover
Price:        $39.95 s

978-0-89096-561-0

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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A Century in the Works

Freese and Nichols, Consulting Engineers, 1894-1994

By Simon W. Freese and Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore
Foreword by Joe Pickle

In November of 1891, at the age of twenty-five, John MacDonald Blackstock Hawley arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. A civil engineer from Minnesota, Hawley "hung out his shingle" in 1894 and began a tradition of engineering in Texas that his successors in the firm of Freese and Nichols have continued for one hundred years.

This history of Freese and Nichols focuses on the firm's contributions, design innovations, and "firsts" in water supply, water treatment, and wastewater engineering; transportation design for roads, bridges, and airports; city and regional planning; environmental science; and general civil and environmental engineering. A personal as well as professional account, A Century in the Works offers anecdotes about John Hawley's battle-ax punch and eccentric scientific experiments, Simon Freese's penchant for practical jokes, and Marvin Nichols's "water fights" and genealogical shakeups of his family tree.

The Freese and Nichols story will interest urban and environmental historians, professional engineers, and those working in related fields of hydraulic engineering, municipal and industrial water and sanitary systems, water quality, dam safety, waste management, transportation systems, and urban development.

The student of Texas history will find much of interest here as well. In many ways, the history of Freese and Nichols parallels that of the state for the past one hundred years.

The firm has had a pivotal role in developing Texas water resources since Hawley arrived in the state. And it will be the rare Texas reader who has never gone boating or picnicking at one of the over a hundred Texas lakes engineered by the firm in the intervening century.

The late SIMON W. FREESE, P.E., practiced engineering in Texas for sixty-nine years; he was a nationally recognized environmental specialist and a senior member of the firm of Freese and Nichols, Inc., Consulting Engineers.DEBORAH LIGHTFOOT SIZEMORE is the author of two books and numerous articles in regional and national publications. Her areas of interest are business, biography, and Texas and western history.

What Readers Are Saying:

"The book is a thorough and comprehensive look at the company through the past century. . . . Without this firm, the quality of life in Texas would be poorer indeed." --Texas Aggie

" . . . a nicely produced business history, a chronicle well worth the effort that went into it . . . the book is nevertheless diverting when one considers how the essentially arid plain of North Texas supports far more human enterprise than anyone could have once imagined." --Michael Pellecchia

"Sizemore has done a very good job of culling information from the diary maintained by Freese and has supplemented this with information from the engineering literature on the many projects undertaken by this firm." --Choice

"The well-written text, complemented with vintage photographs and illustrations, takes the reader on a journey back in time . . . " --Review of Texas Books

"Although Simon W. Freese and Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore's study may be the least glamorous history of Texas ever written, it is a valuable contribution to public works history." --Business Library Review

"The primary value of the book is the depth in which it covers the emergence and the expanding work of a prominent consulting engineering firm and its principals. The historical literature on consulting engineering firms is sparse." --Business History Review

“. . . a readable and often engaging review of the work of Freese and Nichols (and predecessors dating back to the 1890s), one of Texas’s most important hydraulic engineering consulting firms. . . .” --Journal of the West

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