World War I in Lawrence: Drain of engineers takes toll on local projects

Earlier in July, the Journal-World reported that 46 University of Kansas men, enlisted in Company A Engineers, were to be sent to Fort Riley “for intensive training following a two-weeks encampment on the Washburn College grounds in Topeka.” The Engineers had “lost their designation as a Kansas company and (were) now attached to the Fourteenth division.” Although they were “without uniforms or other equipment aside from engineering tools,” they had already received an assignment to “reconstruct the bridge over the Kaw river at the fort which was wrecked in a mysterious explosion three years ago. After this engineering work and several weeks drilling they expect to be sent to France.”

The drain of engineers was taking a toll on local projects, according to a Journal-World report on July 11: “Uncle Sam, by offering attractive jobs to engineers all and sundry, has played hob with plans of the city engineer this summer. (City Engineer E. H.) Dunmire told some of his troubles at the meeting of the city commission yesterday. ‘Three times since early this spring,’ he said sorrowfully, ‘I have lined up my force for the considerable amount of work that was mapped out for this summer, and just three times broken up my plans. The engineers I have engaged have either gone to training camp or enlisted in the engineering branch of the army or taken jobs helping lay out the big camps under way.’ Now the city engineer has another force of helpers engaged, but doesn’t feel sure at all that the government will let them alone. There is the draft looming up in the near future and the governor is still looking for engineers on many camp jobs.”