Guide to the Dam Brothers Papers 1910-1939
Cage 30

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Dam Brothers
Dam Brothers Papers
Cage 30
Date [inclusive]
5500.0 items.
General Physical Description note
3.5 linear feet of shelf space.
Correspondence, notes, clippings, maps, and printed matter, 1910-1928, of the Dam Brothers investment brokerage, a partnership of Everett and Milton Dam of Seattle; and correspondence, 1928-1929, of Oscar Dam, Assistant Collector of United States Customs at Seattle, with Everett and Milton and British investors in a large hydroelectric dam, an associated industrial complex, and an irrigation project all to be located at Priest Rapids on the Columbia River in Grant County. Also correspondence and descriptive materials concerning the Pasco Reclamation Company, 1925-1928, and the Washington Hume Concrete Pipe Company, 1925-1928; as well as personal correspondence for Everett Dam, 1920-19

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 30, Dam Brothers Papers . Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Oscar Windom Dam (b. 1883), Everett Stephen Dam (b. 1885) and Milton Emery Dam (b. 1886) were the sons of Alton S. Dam, an early developer of large scale irrigation in the Yakima Valley. After attending the University of Washington, the oldest brother, Oscar, became a Federal Service employee with the United States Customs Service in Seattle, while the two younger brothers formed a Seattle brokerage firm, which they named Dam Brothers. Although these occupations provided their livelihoods, the over-riding concern of all three brothers was the promotion of a large hydroelectric dam at Priest Rapids on the Columbia River.

The Priest Rapids project was first envisioned by Alton S. Dam in about 1910 and his sons were to spend the next twenty years in a vain effort to make it a reality. They were able to interest the General Electric Company and the related Electric Bond and Share Company, as well as such exponents of large scale electrification as Sidney Z. Mitchell. Together with these large eastern interests, they formed a corporation to finance the construction of the dam. This corporation, the Washington Development and Irrigation Company, was headed by General Electric’s Henry H. Pierce, and held the license for the project but received little financial backing from the parent companies. Consequently, the firm of Dam Brothers undertook to arrange financing for the dam. They were met with opposition from the investment community and the regulatory authorities, both insisting that a market for electric power must be a part of the overall development. Thus, the Dam brothers found themselves promoting nitrate, fertilizer, and aluminum plants at Priest Rapids, as well as the dam. They also approached the Northern Pacific Railroad with a proposal to electrify and relocate its tracks across the Columbia River at the Priest Rapids Dam. Additionally, the brothers sought to develop an irrigation project on a large tract of land which they owned. As they stood to gain much from the increase in land values promised by the irrigation project, this element of the scheme, which was known as the Priest Rapids Highlands Project, received considerable attention from all three brothers.

The repeated inability to arrange financing of the project caused the two younger brothers to depart Seattle in February of 1928 and to spend the next three years trying to find financial backers for the Priest Rapids project. Their affairs in Seattle were left in the hands of Oscar Dam, who by then had risen to be one of the higher level officials at the Seattle Customs Office. Although the efforts of Dam Brothers took them around the United States and Canada in 1928, 1929 and 1930 and brought them into contact with British and American bond-buying syndicates and industrialists such as Henry Ford, they were unable to induce investors to back so large a project. Ultimately, in June 1930, the Federal Power Commission refused to renew the license for the Priest Rapids dam. Milton Dam then returned to Seattle and was later involved in real estate development in Central Washington. Everett Dam remained in New York as a securities trader.

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Scope and Contents note

The papers of the Dam brothers consist of those items which were left in the possession of Oscar Dam at the time the two younger brothers left Seattle in 1928, and of Oscar Dam’s correspondence with his brothers during their efforts to finance the Priest Rapids dam. The papers which the brothers left in Seattle are principally concerned with hydroelectric and irrigation matters and prospective investors. Some items date from as early as 1910, when the brothers were involved with the Pasco Reclamation Company’s financing, but most date from the mid-1920s and relate to aspects of the Priest Rapids project. The series of papers also contains considerable reference to the brothers’ involvement with the Washington Hume Concrete Pipe Company.

That series of papers which consists of the correspondence of Oscar Dam is comprised of letters received by Oscar Dam and carbon copies of his letters to his brothers and their business associates. The correspondence is lengthy and contains reports of the brothers’ progress with the Priest Rapids loans, while Oscar Dam reports in detail on the brothers’ affairs in Seattle. The correspondence begins in February 1928 and continues on a large scale until June 1930, when the license for the Priest Rapids dam expired. After that date the frequency of correspondence is much lower. It ends in December 1932 except for a fifteen month period from late 1937 to early 1939.

Some material related to personal matters of Everett Dam is also included among the papers.

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Arrangement note

The Dam brothers’ papers fall naturally into four series. One is information and investor material, arranged in an alphabetical sequence. A second series, the most important in the collection, is comprised of the chronologically-ordered correspondence of Oscar Dam with his brothers. A short third series consist of personal papers of Everett Dam, while the fourth is made up of maps and drawings.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1975
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Custodial History note

Roy Mundy of Ephrata had received the papers from a party who purchased them at a storage sale in Seattle

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The papers of Oscar, Everett, and Milton Dam were deposited in the Washington State University Library in November 1974 by Roy Mundy of Ephrata.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Pasco Reclamation Company
  • Washington Hume Concrete Pipe Company

Family Name(s)

  • Dam family--Archives

Personal Name(s)

  • Dam, Everett Stephen, 1885-
  • Dam, Milton Emory, 1886-
  • Dam, Oscar Windom, 1883-
  • Historical Map Collection waps
  • Mundy, Roy


  • Dams -- Columbia River--Design
  • Irrigation
  • Irrigation -- Washington (State)--Grant County--History
  • Priest Rapids Dam (Wash.)
  • Public Works
  • Washington (State)

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Dam Brothers Brokerage 

Series 1.1: Information and Investors 



1 / 1

Allen, George W. 

1 / 2


1 / 3

Bank Stockholders and Bank Statements 

1 / 4

Barnes, Earl J. 

1 / 5

Battle Creek Health Sanitarium 

1 / 6

Becht, Karl 

1 / 7

Cassmore, Melvin J. (Los Angles trip) 

1 / 8

Co-operative Marketing 

1 / 9

Corey, J. C. 

1 / 10

Crop Values 

1 / 11

Crops for Highlands 

1 / 12


1 / 13

Employment applications 

1 / 14


1 / 15

First National Bank Savings Account 

1 / 16

Fishways for Dams 

1 / 17

Frost, J. E. 

1 / 18

Hallam, Arthur C. 

1 / 19

Hart, F. D. 

1 / 20

Highlands Corporation, Financing 

1 / 21

Highlands corporation, Lands 

1 / 22

Highlands Survey Costs 

1 / 23


1 / 24

Inquiries, Land 

1 / 25

Irrigation Data-Washington 

1 / 26

Irrigation Data-Oregon 

1 / 27

Irrigation Data-California 

1 / 28

Irrigation Data-Idaho 

1 / 29

Irrigation Data-Montana 

1 / 30

Irrigation Data-Msc. Western States 

1 / 31

Land and Farm Statistics 

2 / 32

Land Sales 

2 / 33

Land Settlement 

2 / 34

Lytel, J. L. 

2 / 35

Meyer, Edward F. 

2 / 36

Mead, Dr. Elwood 

2 / 37

Milwaukee Railroad Executive Officials 

2 / 38

Miscellaneous Men, Financing 

2 / 39


2 / 40

New York 

2 / 41

Nichols, W. R., Tacoma 

2 / 42

Orchard Costs 

2 / 43

Owensby, W. S. 

2 / 44

Power Maintenance 

2 / 45

Reames, A. E. 

2 / 46

Resorts, Dining Places 

2 / 47

Russell, Edward J. 

2 / 48

Simpson, William J. P. 

2 / 49

Subdividing Land 

2 / 50

University of Washington 

2 / 51

U. S. Publications 

2 / 52

Williamson, Ralph 

2 / 53

Yakima Valley 

2 / 54

Series 1.2: Priest Rapids Project 


Engineers' Reports, financial plans, publicity, license applications, 1912-1930   30.0 items.

2 / 55

Series 1.3: Pasco Reclamation Project 


Correspondence, publicity, clippings, maps related to the Pasco pumping plan (Strahorn project), 1910-1915   30.0 items.

3 / 56

Series 1.4: Washington Hume Concrete Pipe Company 


Correspondence and enclosures relative to the efforts of Dam brothers to organize a company to manufacture concrete pipe on license granted to them by Hume Concrete Pipe Company, 1925-1928   300.0 items.

3 / 57-60

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Series 2: Oscar Dam Correspondence 


 Feb 1928 - Dec 1928 

4 / 60-71

 Jan 1929 - Sept 1929 

5 / 72-80

 Oct 1929 - June 1930 

6 / 81-89

 July 1930 - Dec 1932 

7 / 90-94

 Nov 1937 - Jan 1939 

7 / 95-97

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Series 3: Personal papers of Everett Dam 


Miscellaneous notes, photographs, 1926.   10.0 items.

7 / 98

Correspondence, 1928.   100.0 items.

7 / 99

Correspondence and documents, some executed by Oscar Dam relative to divorce settlement with Norma Dam, 1920-1925.   120.0 items.

7 / 100

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Series 4: Maps and Drawings 


Maps and drawings, 1910 - 1930   45.0 items.

7 (Oversized)

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