Alumni Hall of Fame

Hiram F. Mills
Hiram F. Mills
Fall 2009

Hiram F. Mills

Class of 1856
Distinguished Hydraulic Engineer
1836-1921

One of the foremost hydraulic engineers of his time, Hiram Mills was a pioneer in the development of sanitary engineering in America.

Chief engineer of a water power developer, Mills was tapped by the Massachusetts State Board of Health to chair its committee on water supply and sewerage, a position he held for 28 years. Mills established the Lawrence Experiment Station in Lawrence, Mass., which conducted the nation’s first sustained experiments on water and wastewater treatment and became a magnet for world leaders in sanitary engineering.

There, on the banks of the Merrimack River, Mills developed the first slow-sand filtration system to eliminate bacteria in drinking water. The efficiency of his filtering system led to significant reductions in typhoid fever rates and marked the beginning of a new era in municipal engineering. Mills wrote persuasively on the topic of water supply and purification and enthusiastically embraced the new science of public health. In 1975 the Lawrence Experiment Station was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.