Hermann Schussler: No Ordinary Man
Twenty-one year old Hermann Schussler (1842-1919) emigrated to California, from Switzerland, in 1864. Two years later, at the age of 23, he became Chief Engineer of the Spring Valley Water Works. Schussler was no ordinary young man. Born in the village of Rastebe in the Grand Duchy of Oldenberg, Germany, he came to California speaking little English. Armed with studies in civil engineering at the Universities of Karlsruhe and Zurich and a little engineering experience in Switzerland, Schussler rode into California on horseback with only a carpet bag for his personal belongings.
Schussler's career spanned a half-century leaving his mark for all times on the dams, reservoirs and aqueducts serving San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. Schussler's ingenuity and foresight produced water works that provide nearly 15% of the water supply for these counties today. Schussler was also famous for designing the Comstock water system, one of the most extraordinary engineering feats of the West.
The Upper Crystal Springs Dam and Reservoir was built in 1876. It is 520 ft. long and 70 feet high and separates the upper and lower Crystal Springs lakes three miles from the southern end. The Lower Crystal Springs Dam was built by Schussler in 1888. In 1911, it was raised to its present height of 154 ft. It is 176 ft. wide at the base and 600 ft. long at the crest. The arched dam is built up of interlocking concrete blocks formed and poured in place.
This bronze plaque, commemorating Schussler, was installed at the Crystal Springs Dam in 1976 upon designation of Lower Crystal Springs Dam as a California Historic Civil Engineering landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Inscribed and translated is the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren in Saint Paul's Cathedral in London,"'Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice" ("If you seek his monument, look about you").