The Corps story began more than 200 years ago when Congress established the Continental Army with a provision for a chief engineer on June 16, 1775. The Army established the Corps of Engineers as a separate, permanent branch on March 16, 1802, and gave the engineers responsibility for founding and operating the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has responded to changing defense requirements and played an integral part in the development of the country. Throughout the 19th century, the Corps built coastal fortifications, surveyed roads and canals, eliminated navigational hazards, explored and mapped the Western frontier and constructed buildings and monuments in the nation’s capital. While the mission and tasks have evolved with the needs and priorities of the nation, the dedication and commitment of the workforce has remained constant.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
- Is the nation’s number one federal provider of outdoor recreation.
- Is the nation's environmental engineer.
- Owns and operates more than 600 dams.
- Operates and maintains 12,000 miles of commercial inland navigation channels.
- Dredges more than 20 million cubic yards of construction and maintenance dredge material annually.
- Maintains 926 coastal, Great Lakes and inland harbors.
- Restores, creates, enhances or preserves tens of thousands of acres of wetlands annually under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Regulatory Program.
- Provides a total water supply storage capacity of 329.2 million acre-feet in major Corps lakes.
- Owns and operates 24 percent of the U.S. hydropower capacity or 3 percent of the total U.S. electric capacity.
- Supports Army and Air Force installations.
- Provides technical and construction support to more than 100 countries.
- Manages an Army military construction program between 2006 and 2013 totaling approximately $44.6 billion — the largest construction effort since World War II.
- Researches and develops technologies to protect the nation’s environment and enhance quality of life.