The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' story

The Corps story began more than 200 years ago when Congress established the Continental Army, with a provision for a chief engineer, on June 16, 1775. The Army established the Corps of Engineers as a separate, permanent branch on March 16, 1802.

Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has responded to changing defense requirements and played an integral part in the development of the country. Throughout the 19th century, the Corps built coastal fortifications, surveyed roads and canals, eliminated navigational hazards, explored and mapped the Western frontier, and constructed buildings and monuments in the Nation’s capital. While the mission and tasks have evolved with the needs and priorities of the Nation, the dedication and commitment of the workforce has remained constant.

 The Portland District takes pride in its contributions to these U.S. Army Corps of Engineers achievements:

  • Is the Nation’s number one federal provider of outdoor recreation.
  • Serves as the Nation's environmental engineer.
  • Owns and operates more than 600 dams.
  • Operates and maintains 12,000 miles of commercial inland navigation channels.
  • Dredges more than 200 million cubic yards of construction and maintenance dredge material annually.
  • Maintains 926 coastal, Great Lakes and inland harbors.
  • Restores, creates, enhances or preserves tens of thousands of acres of wetlands annually under the Corps’ Regulatory Program.
  • Provides a total water supply storage capacity of 329.2 million acre-feet in major Corps lakes.
  • Owns and operates 24 percent of the U.S. hydropower capacity or 3 percent of the total U.S. electric capacity.
  • Researches and develops technologies to protect the nation’s environment and enhance quality of life.

District key dates


Portland District established


Construction of coastal jetties begins


Bonneville Dam completed


18 major dams constructed in the Willamette, Rogue and Columbia basins


Mount St. Helens erupted


Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act


ESA-listing of sockeye salmon along the Snake River; eight additional species added later


First ESA-listed fish is delisted: Oregon Chub