South Pacific Division History

The South Pacific Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers traces its roots to the 1800s when Army engineers like the intrepid Captain John Fremont explored the west. He gave the name “Golden Gate” to the mouth of the San Francisco Bay and prophesied that the “wealth of the world” would flow through the narrow passage.

In 1848 the Mexican-American War ended and Mexico ceded all claims to California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers quickly established the Pacific Coast Board of Engineers, and designated San Francisco as its headquarters in the Far West.

At the time, the Corps of Engineers was mainly Army officers – West Point graduates who built coastal fortifications, lighthouses, harbors and ports, and roads throughout all the western states and territories. In 1853 they laid their cornerstone at Fort Point to defend San Francisco Bay.  A perfect model of masonry engineering in America, Fort Point witnessed the Civil War, the Great 1906 Earthquake, the Golden Gate Bridge construction, and reuse for World War II. Today Fort Point is preserved as a National Historic Site.

In 1888 USACE first established Division Commands based on 5 geographic regions – Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, and Pacific. Our predecessor, the Pacific Division was headquartered in San Francisco and managed USACE military and civil works projects from the Rocky Mountains west to the Pacific, and from Alaska south to Mexico.

In 1901, USACE divided the Pacific Division in two in recognition of the economic growth and development of the West.  The South Pacific and North Pacific Divisions were created.

Today South Pacific Division continues bringing value to the Nation’s toughest engineering challenges in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders. We proudly support California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of five other states to secure our nation, energize the economy, and reduce risk from disaster.