Washington Aqueduct. Specifications for Conduit [and] Specification For Graduation on Section No. [blank] of the Washington Aqueduct.
Two 1858 construction specification and contract bid forms issued by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers for the construction of the Washington Aqueduct.
The construction of the Washington Aqueduct was done under the supervision of Montgomery C. Meigs of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. As seen on these forms, at the time they were furnished, Meigs held the rank of Captain. During the Civil War he would be the Quartermaster General of the Union Army. Was Meigs, an exemplary engineer, the author and designer of these rational bidding forms?
An Augusta, Georgia native, Meigs was a career military and civil officer in the District of Columbia. During the period of the use of these forms, dated 1858, Meigs also supervised the expansion of the United States Capitol and the expansion of the General Post Office Building.
These two documents are specifications and bid forms issued by the U. S. [Army Corps of] Engineers to be completed and signed by construction companies vying for the contracts to grade and install brick conduit for the Washington Aqueduct, commissioned by Congress in 1852. Both documents serve the same function and their language and sense serve the same purpose, but they are textually different and were set in type at different periods. Likely one form served to revise the other.
The specifications provide insight into construction means and methods and to the language of civil engineering projects in mid-nineteenth century. Many of the technical terms found in these forms, such as clearing, grubbing, mucking, and benching, would be recognizable today; although some engineers and young surveyors might not be certain how to measure “five chains” back from an excavation. Today, the aqueduct still supplies to Washington D. C. and surrounding areas.
Description: Washington Aqueduct. Specifications for Conduit [and] Specification For Graduation on Section No. [blank] of the Washington Aqueduct.
[Washington, D. C.: GPO, 1858]. Two items. 12½ x 7½ inches. Each  pp. +  blank. Two partly-printed bifolium forms, unused. Very good.