This 1950s footage captures the celebrations surrounding the opening of the Texarkana Dam, now known as the Wright Patman Dam, across the Sulphur River in northeast Texas. After a parade through the streets of Texarkana, a crowd gathers by the site for the dam's dedication ceremony. Inventor and entrepreneur R. G. LeTourneau flies in from Longview for the occasion. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used equipment manufactured by LeTourneau's company, R. G. LeTourneau, Inc., to build the dam and reservoir. Congressman Wright Patman speaks at the event. The project was renamed in his honor in 1973.
Robert Gilmore LeTourneau was born on November 30, 1888 in Richford, Vermont. An inventor and entrepreneur, he established R.G. LeTourneau, Inc., an earthmoving equipment manufacturing company, in California in 1929. The business expanded throughout the 1930s and 1940s, opening factories in locations including Longview, Texas. The Longview factory ultimately became the company's headquarters. Securing nearly 300 patents, LeTourneau was responsible for the invention and development of numerous earthmoving machines and manufacturing processes, from the industry's use of rubber tires to the electric wheel drive system. In 1966, LeTourneau's son Richard took over the presidency of the company, now known as LeTourneau Technologies.
In addition to his work as an equipment engineer and manufacturer, LeTourneau was also a devout Christian and a philanthropist. In 1946, he and his wife Evelyn founded the LeTourneau Technical Institute in Longview to provide technical and mechanical training as well as classroom instruction. The institution became LeTourneau College in 1961 and LeTourneau University in 1989. The school now offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including engineering, aeronautics, business, education, and nursing.
R. G. LeTourneau passed away on June 1, 1969 after suffering a severe stroke. He was 80 years old.