Symposium Explores Building America’s Defense

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University will host the fifth annual Utah Construction/Utah International Symposium “Building America’s Defense: 1939 1975,” Oct. 5-6.  The symposium offers unique insights on World War II and the Cold War through the eyes of men who built everything from an underground fuel storage system at Pearl Harbor to missile complexes across the West.

For three quarters of a century, the Utah Construction Company proved – to the tune of billions of dollars – America’s favorite rags to riches work ethic as it moved from railroad building to multi national mining. The success story culminated in 1976 with a merger with General Electric – then the largest merger of its type in United States history.

Military and western historians, including author Douglas Brinkley, will discuss issues around military construction. A photographic exhibit features projects ranging from the building of Liberty Ships and the Alaska Highway, as the U.S. entered World War II, to the mining and milling of uranium for the Atomic Energy Commission during the Cold War. Some of the missiles placed on alert during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 rose in silos built by the renamed Utah Construction & Mining. UC&M also helped excavate and build the North American Defense Command Base (NORAD), which directed the fighter jets responding on September 11, 2001, to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon.

On Oct. 5, Brinkley will present “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D Day and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion.” His presentation will be held at 7 p.m. in Lindquist Hall in the Ethel Wattis Kimball Visual Arts Center.

Events on Oct. 6 will include a presentation by Robert Berlin, professor at the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College at 9 a.m., followed by a panel discussion at 10 a.m. featuring military and western historians Robert Berlin, Susan Matt and Gene Sessions, and geologist Charles Snow, that will be moderated by William Allison. Berlin’s presentation and the panel discussion will be held in the Stewart Library Special Collections.

All symposium events are free to the public.

Founded in Ogden in 1900 by bankers Thomas Dee, David Eccles and Joseph Pingree, along with the railroad building Wattis brothers – William H., Edmund O. and Warren L. – UCC led a consortium called Six Companies in bidding to build the Hoover Dam during the Great Depression – a project completed more than one year ahead of schedule. The Six Companies partners diversified their interests, often teaming on military projects as war spread throughout Europe and Asia.

In 1999 the Utah Construction/Utah International Collection was donated to the Stewart Library Special Collections by the late Edmund Wattis Littlefield, a former company president and director, and by Broken Hill Proprietary, Ltd., an Australian concern that in 1984 purchased Utah International from General Electric. The collection contains some half million photographs, as well as correspondence, financial records and other documents.

In addition to the symposium, Stewart Library will also debut a new photographic exhibit, “Prisoners of War in Ogden,” which depicts the experiences of some 10,000 Italian and German prisoners of war housed in Ogden from 1943-1944. The exhibit will be on display in the new Stewart Library Atrium.

Fifth annual Utah Construction/Utah International Symposium Schedule

October 5

Ethel Wattis Kimball Visual Arts Center
6 p.m. Dumke Family Atrium: Reception and book signing

   7 p.m., Lindquist Hall: Honors Visiting Eccles Professor Douglas Brinkley presents “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion”


October 6

Stewart Library Special Collections

 8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

 9 a.m.    Robert Berlin, professor at the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College

10 a.m.   Panel discussion by military and western historians Robert Berlin, Susan Matt and Gene Sessions, and by geologist Charles Snow, moderated by William Allison


Photographic exhibits:

Stewart Library Special Collections

Building America’s Defense: 1939-1975

            Liberty Ships

            Pearl Harbor

            Alaska Highway          

            Lucky Mc Uranium Mines

            Missile Bases and Launching Sites


Stewart Library Atrium entry-level
Prisoners of War in Ogden: 1943-1944”

 Visit for more news about WSU.


Linda Sillitoe, Stewart Library Special Projects Assistant
(801) 626-7351 ·


Linda Sillitoe, Stewart Library Special Projects Assistant
(801) 626-7351 ·

WSU to Host Fifth Annual Utah Construction Symposium

Historian, Author to Discuss Book

Photo Exhibit Recalls Ogden’s WWII POW Camp