Biography of Warren A. Bechtel
San Francisco, CA Biographies





WARREN A. BECHTEL
Warren A. Bechtel, of San Francisco, is the president of the widely known contracting firm of W. A. Bechtel Co., and president of the Six Companies, Inc., which latter organization, composed of contracting firms, was formed for the purpose of constructing the mammoth Hoover Dam in Boulder canyon.

Warren A. Bechtel was born on a stock farm in Freeport, Illinois, September 12, 1872, and is a son of the late John M. and Elizabeth (Bentz) Bechtel, both of whom were natives of the) state of Ohio. John M. Bechtel was a farmer and cattleman in Illinois until 1884, when he removed with his family to Kansas, in which state Warren A. Bechtel graduated from high school. The latter then went to work on the farm and afterward engaged in the cattle business for a short period. Subsequently he made his way to the Indian Territory, where he was employed in a railroad camp as a laborer and later filled various positions, principally in Wyoming, Oregon and Nevada. In 1900 he became foreman on the reconstruction of the Union Pacific Railroad in Wyoming. From 1902 until 1903 he was associated with the engineering department of the Central Pacific division of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1904 he was superintendent on the construction of the Richmond Belt Line Railway, and the grading of the Santa Fe line from Richmond to Oakland.

In 1906, Mr. Bechtel became a subcontractor on the construction of the Western Pacific Railroad; after this, on the Natron cut off of the Southern Pacific in Oregon; the Oakdale irrigation district canal in California; and the Northwestern Pacific Railway through Eel river canyon in California. He has been in business as a general contractor for himself since 1914. The W. A. Bechtel Co. was incorporated in May, 1925, the members of the firm being Warren A. Bechtel and his three sons - Warren A., Jr., Stephen D. and Kenneth K. and A. V. Bechtel, brother of Warren A. Bechtel, who is a director of the company. Some of the principal contracts which the company has undertaken may be noted as follows: the Natron cut off in 1926-27, in conjunction with the Utah Construction Company; the pre cast, unit built concrete train sheds, snow sheds and roundhouses (the patents of which Mr. Bechtel owns) for the Western Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Union Pacific, and the Santa Fe Railroads; the Bowman rock fill dam and tunnel for the Nevada Irrigation District (California), double tracking of the Santa Fe through New Mexico and Arizona; and reconstruction of forty miles of the Sacramento Northern Railroad (California). As Bechtel & Palmer, they constructed in 1930 the natural gas pipe line from Tracy to Crockett for the Standard Oil Company, and from Milpitas to Tres Pinos for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. In conjunction with the Kaiser Paving Company, as the Bechtel-Kaiser Company, Ltd., they laid natural gas pipe lines in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Montana, totaling about one thousand miles. Also, in conjunction with the Kaiser Paving Company, as the Bechtel-Kaiser Rock Company, they constructed in 1927 and have since operated the Oroville rock plant for concrete aggregates and railroad ballast. With the Utah Construction Company, they have the contract for the construction of the northern California extension of the Western Pacific Railroad line from Keddie north to Bieber, a distance of one hundred and twelve miles. Another recent large contract is that of the Bonita rock fill dam in New Mexico for the Southern Pacific.

The W. A. Bechtel Co. has achieved national recognition by being one of the group of contracting firms organized to form the Six Companies, Inc., for the purpose of building the Hoover Dam in Boulder canyon, and the appurtenant works. Six Companies, Inc., was incorporated under the laws of Delaware in February, 1931, by the following contractors: W. A. Bechtel Co. of San Francisco; Henry J. Kaiser of Oakland, California; the Utah Construction Company of San Francisco and Ogden, Utah; MacDonald & Kahn Company of San Francisco; Morrison-Knudsen Company of Boise, Idaho; J. F. Shea Company of Portland, Oregon; and the Pacific Bridge Company of Portland, Oregon. W. A. Bechtel is president of Six Companies, Inc. After the award of the contract for forty eight million, eight hundred and ninety thousand, nine hundred and ninety six dollars, Six Companies, Inc., organized the Boulder City Company to take care of the housing, feeding and commissary.

Warren A. Bechtel has consistently been interested in promoting the standards of the contracting business. He was one of the first members of the Associated General Contractors, and was national president in the year 1929, while in 1920 he had been influential in forming the California chapter.

Warren A. Bechtel was married to Miss Alice West, of Indiana, and to their union four children have been born, namely: Warren A., Jr., Stephen D., Kenneth K. and Alice. Mr. Bechtel is a thirty second degree Mason through both the Scottish and the York Rites, and he is a member of Islam Temple of the Mystic Shrine and of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He belongs to the Masonic Club, the Commonwealth Club and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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