West Point in the Making of America






Building the Washington Monument

Building the Washington Monument

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<i>Culebra Cut</i>

Culebra Cut

Monumental Projects

“Everything is on a colossal scale.”
    —Scientific American, 18 March 1911

In the decades between Reconstruction and World War I, West Pointers engaged in a number of large-scale building projects. Once again, their engineering education served national and local needs as they rebuilt the Philadelphia waterworks and supervised the New York park system.

Graduates of West Point also played significant roles in reshaping the city of Washington, with such major additions to the urban landscape as the Washington Monument, the Library of Congress, and the Rock Creek Parkway.

Perhaps most epic of all, they linked the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with a canal through the Isthmus of Panama. The Panama Canal was a huge engineering enterprise. West Pointers assumed key positions after George Goethals (Class of 1880) became chief engineer of the project in 1907. He assembled a senior staff of other West Pointers and sprinkled more junior officers throughout the project.


Thomas Lincoln Casey

Key Figures

Thomas Lincoln Casey
Thomas Lincoln Casey
Class of 1852

George Washington Goethals
George Washingon Goethals
Class of 1880

David DuBose Gaillard
David DuBose Gaillard
Class of 1884

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

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West Point in History Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue The Army in the West Wars for Empire Monumental Projects