This article was first published in August 2000 edition of our Sierra Chapter newsletter and has been reprinted here for the benefit of those that may not know or remember the history behind the Sierra Chapter President’s Gavel.
The Sierra Chapter President’s Gavel is inscribed “Drury Butler, President, Sacramento Section, American Society of Civil Engineers 1927.” Just who is Drury Butler, and how did our chapter wind up with his gavel?
Drury Butler was born on November 22, 1877 in White Rock, in Eastern Sacramento County. His family lived in a house and ranch off the original road between Sacramento and Placerville. His father and 3 other men built the school house which later became the White Rock School District. Drury graduated from the school in 1890. He was then home schooled until 1896 when he took the examinations at Sacramento High School. He passed the exam and was allowed to enter the Senior Year. After graduating in 1897, he went on to the University of California at Berkeley where he graduated as a civil engineer in 1901.
Drury worked for the Southern Pacific Company as an assistant engineer until 1908 when he joined the Sacramento County Surveyors & Engineers office. While he was there, Drury designed the concrete arch bridge that still spans the American River at Folsom. He went on to become the Deputy County Surveyor and then served as the County Surveyor from 1914 to 1935. He was a practicing civil engineer until his semi‑retirement in 1956, at which time he became a consultant to Joseph E. Spink.
He joined ASCE in 1919, and served as the President of the Sacramento Section in 1927. In 1960, he was honored at the Engineer of the Year Banquet with a special award for his more than 50 years of “devoted service” to the engineering profession in Sacramento County. Drury remained a member of ASCE, achieving Life Member and Fellow status, until his death on March 2, 1964. He was survived by his wife and daughter.
Besides his contributions to the engineering profession, Drury was also active in Masonic affairs for more than 50 years. He was a charter member of Sacramento Rotary Club. The gavel he received from ASCE was presented to WAELS, one of our Sierra Chapter’s predecessors, just prior to his death.
About our guest reporter: Robert C. Hall is a 1949 Civil Engineering Graduate of the University of Arizona. He was a PE in California, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan. Bob was also past president of WAELS (1968) and CCCE&LS (1981). He is an Honorary Director and Life Member of CELSOC, and a Life Member of ASCE. He retired from the Spink Corporation in 1992 after working there for 35 years. Bob also worked for the California Division of Water Resources and A. Teichert & Sons. He remains active in the Rotary Club of Sacramento, and serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board.