About the Collection

The Dworshak Dam Collection is comprised of over 500 digital items, including both historical photographs and documents, that span the years 1952 to 1975 and portray the history of the Dworshak Dam, which is located on the North Fork Clearwater River, near Orofino, Idaho and is currently the third largest dam in the United States.

The digital collection documents the legislation that led to the dam's construction, local reaction to the dam's proposal, approval, and construction, and the construction itself.

The materials in the collection were drawn from the papers and photographs of A.B. Curtis, who served as mayor of Orofino, Idaho from 1950 to 1973. These materials were donated to the University of Idaho Library by Mr. Curtis in October 1982. The physical collection is stored in four archival file boxes that occupy approximately four linear feet of shelf spaces

About A.B. Curtis

A.B. "Bert" Curtis was born on a ranch near Salem, Oregon, August 1, 1903. His parents, Charles Garret Curtis of Independence, Missouri, and Elizabeth Ann Milne, who was born near Dundee, Scotland, were early pioneers. When the family moved to Orofino, Idaho, in 1912 Charles Curtis operated the Cottage Hotel for a time before he returned to ranching.

Having attended high school in both Orofino, where he was on the football team, and Plummer, from which he graduated in 1921, Bert entered the University of Idaho where he remained for one year. He then attended Lewiston State Normal School where he received his teacher's diploma after two years of study. He taught and coached athletics in Fernwood for a while, then returned to the University of Idaho for two more years. He married Alene Honeywell of Clear Lake, South Dakota, in Moscow on December 21, 1928. They have five children, four sons and a daughter.

In 1918 he began his 50 year association with the Clearwater Timber Protective Association when, due to the manpower shortage caused by the war, Theodore Fohl hired the 15 year old Curtis as a waterboy, carrying water to the firefighters. He spent his summers until 1925 working for the association, then in May 1926 he began full-time work. In 1927 he was appointed Assistant Chief Fire Warden for the association and a year later was appointed Chief. In 1945 he was made Chief Fire Warden and Manager of the Potlatch Timber Protective Association, and in that same year he became State Fire Warden. In 1966 the Clearwater and Potlatch Timber Protective Associations were combined and Curtis remained Chief Fire Warden of the new organization until he retired in August 1968.

In 1950 Curtis was elected mayor of Orofino, a position he held for 23 years, during which the city completed a large water and sewage treatment plant. In 1958 he tried unsuccessfully to unseat Gracie Pfost, the Democratic incumbent representing Idaho's First District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He was a strong supporter of Senator Henry Dworshak on the Bruces Eddy (now Dworshak) Dam issue, and was one of the primary figures in obtaining approval and funds for the construction. In 1972 he was awarded the Department of the Army Certificate for Patriotic Civilian Service for his assistance to the Corps of Engineers in building the dam. Among his other awards are the Idaho Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen award (1968), and a 38 years of distinguished service award presented by public and private Idaho forestry associations in 1976.

He has been active in the Chamber of Commerce, Association of Idaho Cities, was an original incorporator of the Clearwater Economic Development Association, was active in the Idaho Municipal League, served on the Inland Waterways Association, and from 1965 to 1970 he represented the timber industry as a member of the Public Land Law Review Commission. His memberships in forestry organizations include the American Forestry Association, Society of American Foresters - Inland Empire Section, and the Western Forestry and Conservation Association. He was also a founding member of the University of Idaho Advisory Research Council, president of the Alumni Association, and a member of the Athletic Advisory Committee. He was president of two mining concerns, Orofino Lime Products and Oxford Copper Mining Company near Pierce.

Curtis died in 1985.

For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on the Dworshak Dam.

To access the finding aid to the A.B. Curtis Collection, describing all items held by Special Collections & Archives, click here.

To download the entire 200+ page listing of all contents in the A.B. Curtis Collection, as held by Special Collections & Archives, click here.

Questions? Comments? Email Devin Becker, digital initiatives librarian at dbecker@uidaho.edu.

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The Dworshak Dam Collection

Documenting the Development and Construction of the Doworshak Dam, 1952 - 1975 i


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