Arthur DeWint Foote

Mary Hallock Foote

Arthur DeWint Foote was born May 24, 1849.

The following information about Arthur DeWint Foote can be found in the Wikipedia article about him:

Arthur De Wint Foote (1849–1933) was a mining and civil engineer who built Foote’s Crossing (California Point of Historical Interest No. P401) across the Middle Yuba River and Foote’s Crossing Road (a National Register of Historic Places landmark), and designed the hydraulic wheel for the North Star Mine Powerhouse, now a California Historical Landmark.

Foote was born in 1849 in Guilford, Connecticut. His relatives came from Yorkshire in 1630. After attending private schools, he entered Yale University’s Sheffield’s Scientific School as part of the Class of 1869, but left a year before graduation.

In 1873, Foote came to San Francisco seeking work. He worked on the Sutro Tunnel in Virginia City, Nevada under Adolph Sutro, the Eldorado Canal on the American River which supplied Placerville, California hydraulic mines a source of water, followed by the Tehachapi Loop for the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1874.

In the three years while at New Almaden Quicksilver Miner in Santa Clara County, California, he married Mary Hallock Foote and started a family. Foote moved his family to Deadwood, South Dakota while he worked on the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota, and then for two years to Leadville, Colorado at the time of the Colorado Silver Boom. In Leadville, Foote worked as an expert on the Iron Silver Mining Company lawsuit, and then as an engineer on the Adelaide Mine.

Because of poor health in the high altitude, Foote went next to Morelia in Michoacan, and then to Wood River Valley in south-central Idaho where he opened up the Wolftone Mine prospect. With friends, he formed the Idaho Mining and Irrigation Company and bought water rights on the Boise River. He worked on the Boise River irrigation project for 10 years; it failed, due to a lack of capital, but ultimately was taken over by the US Bureau of Reclamation and became Arrowrock Dam, one of the largest arid lands irrigation projects in the United States. After Boise, he returned to Mexico with a job in Baja California where he engineered roads for an onyx deposit, before going to the Fremont Mine in Amador City, California, and the Calumet and Hecla Mine in Houghton County, Michigan.

In 1895, the family settled in Grass Valley, California when Foote was hired to design and construct an electric-generating plant for the North Star Mine. He went on to become superintendent and later general manager. Julia Morgan designed his home at the mine, the North Star House, in 1905.

In 1911, Foote and his partners purchased the Tightner Mine in Alleghany, California. He subsequently built the Foote’s Crossing Road in order to ease travel between the two mines. Subsequently, the road became a National Register of Historic Places landmark. He retired in 1913.

In 1876, Foote married the illustrator and writer Mary Hallock Foote (1847–1938) in her hometown of Milton, New York. They had a son, Arthur Burling (A.B.) Foote, and daughters Agnes (died 1904) and Betty.  A.B. graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1899.  He was accepted as an Associate Member into the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1905-03-01. Later, A.B. worked as an assistant at the North Star Mine, eventually becoming the manager after his father’s retirement in 1913.

A very complete biography of Foote’s life was written by Mary, titled A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West. She was an interesting figure in frontier history due to her own dozen novels, numerous woodcut illustrations for books and periodicals, her correspondence from western outposts, and her noted autobiography. She exemplified the civilizing effect of the educated eastern gentlewoman on the chaotic mining and ditch camps of the American West.

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