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The Most Amazing Things the Army Corps of Engineers Has Done

Updated September 23, 2021 767 votes 253 voters 7.3k views23 items

List RulesVote up the most remarkable and amazing things built or done by the US Army Corps of Engineers throughout their history.

The military is good for a lot more than blowing things up. What most people don't realize is that winning a war often requires building more structures than you destroy. That's where the Army Corps of Engineers comes in. After all, if you're an army on the move, you're going to want people on your side who can build bridges and roads. What may surprise you, however, is that the biggest Army Corps of Engineers projects didn't happen during wars... but during peacetime.
 

That's right, the coolest things the Army Corps of Engineers has done don't have much to do with combat. For a long time, they were the only formally trained group of engineers in the country, so they had a hand in almost everything the government built. Many monuments, infrastructure projects, office buildings, and iconic landmarks were overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers - and most people have no clue.
 

So... what are the most amazing they've done? From the Pentagon to the Panama Canal to the Manhattan Project, the Army Corps of Engineers has a storied past and is behind most of the biggest landmarks and projects in US history.

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    They Made the Mississippi River What It Is Today

    Photo: US Army Image / Wikimedia Commons

    In 1824, Congress passed the General Survey Act, which assigned the Corps of Engineers to survey the most important roads and canals in the country. The aim was to improve traversal to make shipping and commerce easier. When the survey was completed, Congress decided to improve many riverways including the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The job was given to the Army Corps of Engineers, which was the only formally trained group of engineers in the country at the time.

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  • 2

    Great Lakes Restoration Project

    Photo: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE / Wikimedia Commons

    In an effort to protect the Great Lakes, an endeavor was launched in 2010 to restore the geographic area surrounding them. The plan was to control invasive species, curtail pollution, and restore the health of the ecosystem, which had begun to wane. Costing $2.2 billion, the project has since gone a long way to protecting the Great Lakes from erosion and pollution.

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  • 3

    The Los Angeles River

    In 1938, Los Angeles received unprecedented rain, which led to a massively destructive flood and the warping of the Los Angeles River. To prevent another such flood in the future, the Flood Control Act was passed, which saw the Army Corps of Engineers overseeing a project to widen the channel and add cement to its lining. The project took more than 20 years and rebuilt more than 278 miles of river.

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  • Easily linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was an impossible dream for many years. The French tried unsuccessfully to create a waterway across the isthmus of Panama, but abandoned the project in 1888 after too many setbacks. President Theodore Roosevelt stepped in, bought the project, and set the Corps of Engineers to the task of creating the Panama Canal. It took nearly 10 years and $350 million dollars, which made it the most expensive and complex construction project in US History at that point.

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