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Special Collections: Guide to the Walter W. Crosby Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves

Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department

June 2004

Introduction and Summary Information

Collection Title: Walter W. Crosby Papers.
Dates of the Collection: 1893-1934 (inclusive); 1907-1915 (bulk).
Provenance: The Crosby papers were given to the Special Collections Department by Mr. Crosby.
Collection Number: MS 119.
Box Numbers: 1-2 (formerly Cage Box 5).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of two document boxes of material (0.8 cubic feet).
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes.
Preferred Citation: Walter W. Crosby Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.
Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.


The collection contains materials from Walter W. Crosby documenting his career as a highway engineer and early 20th century proponent of roads and bridges designed for automobiles rather than horse-drawn vehicles.

Walter Wilson Crosby was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1872. He attended the public schools in Bangor, Maine and graduated in 1893 from Maine State College (now the University of Maine at Orono) with a degree in civil engineering. He received an advanced degree from the University of Maryland in 1912 and held a Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Maine.

Although his specialty in college had been highway engineering, after graduation he first worked as assistant engineer of maintenance and reconstruction on the Portland & Rumford Falls Railway. He then worked for the Hancock Construction Company in Boston before accepting a position in 1897 as resident engineer with the Massachusetts Highway Commission. He then moved to Maryland and worked as roads engineer for Baltimore County and later general superintendent to the Board of Park Commissioners of the city of Baltimore.

Upon the passage of a law in 1904 providing for state aid for highway improvement, Crosby became Chief Engineer to the Maryland Geological and Economic Survey and later chief engineer to the Maryland State Road Commission. As such, he became a strong proponent of building good roads for the emerging automobile traffic, both by improving the condition of local roads and by replacing wooden bridges with concrete structures.

He introduced and developed modern methods of highway construction and maintenance in the state of Maryland and wrote extensively for publications such as Good Roads, as well as for proceedings of various professional engineering societies. In 1928 he was co-author with George E. Goodwin of Highway Location and Engineering. He also contributed sections to the American Highway Engineers Handbook and was the author of Some Western Fishing, published in 1926.

Crosby was an Army officer in World War I, serving as a lieutenant colonel in the 104th Engineers, American Expeditionary Force in 1917-1919. In 1922 he entered the National Park Service and was a superintendent at Grand Canyon National Park. He then served from 1928 to 1945 as a member of the city planning commission of Coronado, California.

He died in California in 1946.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains primarily drafts and copies of articles written by Walter Crosby during his career as a highway engineer and expert in the field of highway construction in the early part of the 20th century. The subject matter almost entirely focuses on highway construction, materials, improvement, and maintenance.

The collection opens with Crosby’s correspondence, 1911-1934, mostly to editors and others about articles he wanted to publish or with extensive discussion and comments about articles written by others in his field. Also included are transcripts of speeches he gave at various professional conferences and civic meetings. The bulk of the collection contains copies of articles written by Crosby between 1907 and 1915, arranged in his own filing system with notes on the publication history of each article. Drafts of articles and reports, 1907-1926, are also included.

Box List

Box 1


1                      Biographical information, 1911

2                      Correspondence, 1911-1934

3                      Speeches, 1908-1934, undated

4                      Graduation essay, Me. State College, 1893

5                      National aid law for highway improvement: proposal to Congress, 1904

6                      Articles written by WWC, 1907-1908

7                      Articles written by WWC, 1910

8                      Articles written by WWC, 1911

9                      Articles written by WWC, 1912-1913

10                    Articles written by WWC, 1913

11                    Articles written by WWC, 1914

12                    Articles written by WWC, 1915

13                    Drafts of articles and reports, 1907-1915

14                    Drafts of articles and reports, 1908-1912

Box 2

1                      Drafts of articles and reports, 1924-1926, undated

2                      Printed articles, 1926-1927

3                      Miscellaneous reports, 1926, undated

4                      Reports to California park commissions, 1930

5                      Newspaper clippings, 1934

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/17/2015
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