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Warren Abraham Bechtel (September 12, 1872 – August 28, 1933) was the founder of the Bechtel Corporation , one of the world’s largest engineering and construction services firms.



Early life

Warren A. Bechtel was born September 12, 1872, as the eldest child of Elizabeth and John Moyer Bechtel, in Freeport, Illinois.


He worked as an employee of the burgeoning United States railroad industry in 1898 after his Oklahoma cattle ranch failed.

Over the next 20 years, Bechtel built a sizable contracting business that specialized in railroad and highway building. One of Bechtel’s earliest major contracts was grading the site of the Oroville, California depot for the Western Pacific Railroad, then under construction.

In 1919, Warren Bechtel and his partners (including his brother Arthur) built the Klamath Highway in California, and in 1921 Warren Bechtel partners won a contract to build the water tunnels for the Caribou Hydroelectric Facility in that state. In 1925, Warren A. Bechtel’s sons Warren Jr., Stephen, and Ken joined him and incorporated as W.A. Bechtel Company. In 1926, the new company won its first major contract, the Bowman Lake dam in California. The firm would later help engineer the famous Hoover Dam over the Colorado River, still considered the largest civil engineering project in U.S. history.


Bechtel died of an accidental insulin overdose while visiting Moscow in 1933.


His son, Stephen D. Bechtel Sr., took over the firm upon his father’s death.

Today, the Bechtel Corporation is still owned and operated by the Bechtel family. Its current CEO is Brendan Bechtel.