William Luther Sibert


Engineer, Soldier

For distinguished service in construction of the Panama Canal he received the thanks of Congress and a promotion from Lieutenant Colonel to Brigadier General, U.S. Army. After retirement from the Army he served as Chairman and Chief Engineer, Alabama Docks Commission and built the State Docks at Mobile.

William Luther Sibert, son of an Etowah County farmer, was an officer of the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, who became one of the world's great engineers. His works include the Atlantic section of the Panama Canal, and the Alabama State Docks. A soldier, he served with distinction as an infantry division commander and as first director of the Chemical Warfare Service during World War I.

Sibert was appointed to the Isthmian Canal Commission in 1907. Prior to that time he had broad experience in lock construction on the "Soo" canal in Michigan and on the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. As Atlantic Division Engineer, Panama Canal, he directed the building of the Gatun locks and dam, the breakwater in Colon Harbor and the excavation of the channel from Gatun to the Atlantic. In a special act of 1915 the United States Congress extended its thanks to Sibert for distinguished services in the construction of the canal and promoted him to brigadier general.

Two years later, as a major general, Sibert commanded the First Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces in France. He subsequently organized and served as director of the Chemical Warfare Service. After his retirement from the Army, Sibert was called upon by Alabama to undertake the building of the of the $10 million State Docks at Mobile, which were open to commerce in June 1928. Soon thereafter General Sibert was a chairman of a board of engineers and geologists whose feasibility study and report to Congress resulted in the passage of the Boulder Dam Bill.

Elected 1961

Alabama Hall of Fame, 1968

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Revised: 3/21/96