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Corps of Engineers Building – 4660 Diagonal Avenue South – Seattle, WA

I would bet, in an instant, $100.00 that 7 out of 10 people could not name three key mission areas that are in the domain of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

I would up that bet to $200.00 that 8 out of 10 people in Seattle could not name where Corps of Engineers main office is located in Seattle.

I would increase that bet to $300.00 that 9 out 10 people in Seattle could not identify this building from this photograph even though it captures one of the most iconic features of that building (the other is that it is, generally, in a horseshoe shape.

And lastly, I would go for broke and bet $1,000,000.00 that I didn’t have much of a clue about any of this stuff until came across this building while wandering around Seattle one day. Please form a line to the right if you are interested in getting in on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

One of the main responsibilities of the Corps of Engineers is building and managing the infrastructure on the nation waterways. Yes, the Army, an organization that primarily exists to fight land wars is also one of the largest, if not the largest, public engineering organization in the world.

One might think that water and the navy go together like ice cream and waffle cones. That assumption would be right. However if a person was to assume, that the Navy, an organization that exists primarily to fight wars on the high seas, would be the obvious choice to build and manage waterway infrastructure, well, you know what is said about assuming things: that assuming something makes an ass out of u and me. Cute. Sort of.

If you look up the history of the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy, you will find that the Continental Congress formed the United States Army on June 14, 1775, and two days later, on June 16, 1775, the United States Army Corps of Engineers was organized. Then on October 13, 1775, almost exactly four months later, the United States Navy to come into existence.

Ta Da! The Corps of Engineers came first so they got the job. Mystery solved. Sort of.

In case you are wondering, and you should be wondering, why the Continental Congress took so long putting some boats in the water I have an answer for you and I am assuming that it is not obvious.

The nation had a severe shortage of boat ramps during the summer of 1775. In other words, without sufficient boat ramps there was no way the United States was ever going to get its Navy into the water. Hence, the Corps of Engineers had to come first and get busy building boat ramps. Now the mystery is totally cleared up.

In case you are now wondering, and you should be, why the Continental Congress simply didn’t skip the Corps of Engineers step and simply create the United States Navy and tell them to go build their own frigging boat ramps I have an answer for you and I assuming that it is obvious.

I ask, whom would you trust more to build boats ramps for the nation? A bunch of engineers with slide rules or a bunch of sailors with an untreatable social disease picked up while in some exotic port of call?

Exactly.

Slide rules, well, rule.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Sort of.

Copyright 2013 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved

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