About Bechtel Corporation
Bechtel Corporation is an American engineering, procurement, construction, and project management company founded in San Francisco, California, and headquartered in Reston, Virginia. It is the largest construction company in the United States.
Bechtel's business activities began in 1898, when cattle farmer Warren A. Bechtel moved from Peabody, Kansas, to the Oklahoma Territory to construct railroads with his team of mules. Bechtel moved his family frequently between construction sites around the western United States for the next several years, eventually moving to Oakland, California, in 1904, where he worked as the superintendent on the Western Pacific Railroad. In 1906, W. A. Bechtel won his first subcontract to build part of the Oroville-to-Oakland section of the Western Pacific Railroad. That year he bought a steam shovel, becoming a pioneer of the new technology. He painted "W.A. Bechtel Co." on the side of the steam shovel, effectively establishing Bechtel as a company, although it was not yet incorporated. Bechtel completed work on a series of railroad contracts during the early 1900s, culminating in an extension of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad finished in 1914.
Starting with the construction of Klamath River Highway in California in 1919, Bechtel ventured into jobs other than building railroads. The company-built roads, bridges, and highways throughout the western United States. The company worked on its first hydroelectric projects in the 1920s for Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California.
In 1925, Warren, his sons Warren Jr, Stephen, Kenneth (Ken), and his brother Arthur (Art) joined him to incorporate as W.A. Bechtel Company, which by this time was the leading construction company in the western United States. In 1929, Warren's son, Stephen, urged his father to embark on the company's first pipeline project. Bechtel began working with California Standard Oil Company to build pipelines and refineries.
In January 1931, Bechtel joined other contractors in the west to form Six Companies, Inc., a consortium created to bid for a contract from the U.S. government to construct Hoover Dam. Six Companies won the bid in March and construction began in the summer of 1931.