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Papers of Royce J. Tipton

Identifier: WRJT

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Royce J. Tipton consists of documents dated 1915 to 1969, with the bulk falling from 1932 to 1969. Bound engineering contracts and reports written by Tipton and his consulting firms predominate but represent only a small portion of Tipton's total projects and publications. Tipton's work for Denver Water on Dillon Reservoir and consulting in the U.S. West, Colombia, Ecuador, and Pakistan comprise the bulk of the materials, but the collection also contains reports from projects in Cuba, Peru, and Turkey. Subject areas include water infrastructure development, irrigation, soil quality and salinization, and interstate river compacts. The collection also contains a selection of Stereo Realist glass slides depicting several Colorado and international consulting projects, a 16mm film about the Upper Valley of Rio Magdalena, Colombia, and three plaques. Personal materials are absent except for a folder of biographical information in Series 1 and some family slides in Series 4.


  • Creation: 1915-1969
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1932-1969


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, it is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Over the course of his fifty-year career, Colorado civil engineer Royce J. Tipton designed numerous large water infrastructure projects in the U.S. West and around the world. As an accomplished and respected consultant, he helped negotiate several interstate water compacts and international treaties.

Born to Basil F. Tipton and Sara C. (Calvert) Tipton in Litchfield, Illinois, on March 23, 1893, Royce J. Tipton grew up in Cripple Creek, Colorado. After graduating high school in 1911, Tipton taught school and worked for mining and irrigation companies near Crestone, Colorado. In 1915, he entered the University of Colorado to study civil engineering. World War I interrupted his studies, and in 1918 he served as 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers with the American Expedition Forces in France and Germany. Tipton did not return to school, but the University of Colorado awarded him an honorary civil engineering bachelor's degree in 1940.

After the war, Tipton returned to engineering as a consultant. Several organizations and firms in the San Luis Valley employed him before he formed Watrous & Tipton, Consulting Engineers, in Monte Vista, Colorado, in 1923. In 1928, he left private practice to become the design engineer for the Rio Mante Project, Mexico. From 1929 to 1933, he conducted water supply studies for Boulder Canyon Reservoir (Lake Mead) for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and served as special engineer in charge of interstate river investigations and water resource surveys for the State Engineer of Colorado during the Tri-State Rio Grande Compact negotiations. Later in his career he helped negotiate interstate river compacts, such as the Pecos River Compact (1949), and international water treaties, such as the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, and many organizations hired him as an expert witness for legal cases involving water disputes. Tipton also continued private consulting in the 1930s, and during World War II, he completed contracts for the War Department.

During the 1940s and 1950s, he created five consulting companies for domestic and international projects. He liquidated three and, in 1960, merged two under the name Tipton and Kalmbach. Tipton's firms focused primarily on the planning and design of water infrastructure, especially for irrigation and municipal supply. He consulted in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Cuba, Egypt, West Pakistan, and New Zealand and all over the U.S. West, including for the Roberts Tunnel (Dillon Reservoir) and Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

Tipton also participated in many professional organizations and earned both awards and the respect of his peers. A registered Professional Engineer in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and Wyoming, Tipton held membership in the Colorado Society of Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Geophysical Union, International Congress on Hydraulic Research, Tau Beta Phi, Chi Epsilon, and other technical societies. He served the ASCE as vice president (1965-1967) and president or chair of several state and national committees, led the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) as vice president (1964-1966) and president (1966-1967), and was president of the Colorado Society of Engineers (1935). He received the Colorado Engineering Council Gold Medal Award (1963), the University of Colorado's Norlin Medal (1958), and CU's College of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award (1966).

Tipton and his first wife, Natalie Knight Tipton, had three children, John, Robert, and Jean (Milaskey). After Natalie's death in 1961, he married his former secretary, Jincy Hunt, in 1962. Tipton died on December 23, 1967.


11.25 linear feet (5 record cartons, 5 document boxes, 3 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



During his fifty-year career, Colorado civil engineer Royce J. Tipton (1893-1967) designed numerous large water infrastructure projects in the U.S. West and around the world. As an accomplished and respected consultant, he helped negotiate several interstate water compacts and international treaties. Materials in the collection concern water planning projects conducted by Tipton in the United States, South America, the Middle East, and South Asia. Materials are almost entirely reports prepared by Tipton and his firms, though biographical items, conference and government publications, slides, a film, and several plaques are also present. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


The collection was organized for ease of research.

The collection consists of 5 series in 13 boxes:

Series 1: Tipton's biography and writings, 1915-1969 and undated

Series 2: Consulting company reports, 1946-1967 and undated

Series 3: Related materials, 1942-1969

Series 4: Visual materials, 1950-1951 and undated

Series 5: Artifacts, 1966-1969


Nancy T. Tipton, wife of Royce Tipton's son John, donated the collection to the Water Resources Archive in July 2013. Royce Tipton's grandson Scott Tipton donated additional materials in January 2023.

Online Materials

Some documents in this collection have been digitized and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

Related collections in the Water Resources Archive include the papers of Daryl B. Simons, Everett V. Richardson, and Maurice L. Albertson. Like Tipton, these men consulted in Pakistan on projects related to irrigation and salinity for the Indus Basin Project, and Simons, like Tipton, designed link canals for the project.


Processing was completed in September 2014. Two boxes of Stereo Realist glass slides and several books, materials by David Tipton, and duplicate reports were returned to the donor. Reports and documents were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Duplicates beyond two copies were removed. Retained Stereo Realist slides were organized and placed in foam-lined, archival boxes. The 16mm film reel and plaques were rehoused in archival boxes. Processing of the January 2023 addition was completed in February 2023, with materials housed at the end of box 6.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy. Authored articles, books and studies are listed in bibliographic form.

Guide to the Papers of Royce J. Tipton
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Clarissa J. Trapp; revised by Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2014; revised 2023
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA