PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records




Manuscript Group 472
1902-2007 (bulk 1955-1995)
58 cubic feet

Walter Lyon was an environmental engineer who held a variety of management positions in local, state and federal government during the second half of the twentieth century, and specialized in environmental and health issues.

Born in Cologne, Germany on June 26, 1924, he eventually immigrated to the United States, serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he received a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering, as well as a Master's Degree in Sanitary Engineering, from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He also studied political science and public administration at American University in Washington, D.C. from 1950-1953. Lyon started his career in sanitary engineering at the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington, D.C., serving as Assistant Chief of the Planning and Development Branch, Division of Engineering Resources, from 1950-1954. After a three-year stint as Assistant Chief of the Environmental Health Section, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, he moved into a number of Pennsylvania Civil Service positions.

Beginning his career with the Commonwealth as the Assistant Director of the Division (later Bureau) of Sanitary Engineering, Department of Health, in 1957, Lyon was quickly promoted to Director of the Division in 1958, a post at which he served until 1970. In 1971, he accepted the position of Director of the Bureau of Water Quality Management, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. During the twenty-two years Lyon was in charge of the Bureau, he led the Commonwealth's water pollution and drinking water programs, instituting many program innovations such as the State's groundwater and biology programs. The final position Lyon held with the Commonwealth was Deputy Secretary for Planning, Department of Environmental Resources, from 1979-1983. In addition to heading the water pollution and drinking water programs during his tenure with the Commonwealth, Lyon was responsible for the Commonwealth's Environmental Master Plan, which gives direction to many diverse resources and programs of Pennsylvania's government, the State's Recreation Plan, federal environmental and resources legislation and policy analysis.

After 1983, he served as a consultant in environmental engineering and water resources for various public and private organizations, as well as instructing prospective engineers in Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In addition to his service on numerous technical committees for organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, Lyon has worked on national and international engineering, environmental resources and water policy matters as a member of the International Joint Commission's Great Lakes Water Quality Board, Science Advisory Board, the Board of Visitors of the University of Pittsburgh, the U.S. Delegation to the International Conference on Water for Peace, and the U.S. Environmental Control Mission to the Netherlands and Eastern Europe. Some of his numerous awards include: the Karl M. Mason Award for Creativity in Environmental Management (1980), 1994 Service to the Profession Award of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Water Resources Planning and Management Division, and the 1998 Engineer of the Year, Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers.

Included in this collection are Lyon's personal and professional papers, which have been divided into four sections. The first grouping contains materials relative to the various organizations with which Lyon was involved over the course of his career, including twenty boxes of files pertaining to the International Joint Commission, eight boxes discussing various Pennsylvania associations, as well as the Society for Risk Analysis and the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, both interstate commissions. Lyon's Subject File encompasses the second section, which is housed in seventy-eight boxes. It includes topics such as Pennsylvania solid wastes, drinking water, environmental monitoring and mapping, public health and water quality, to name a few. Newspaper articles, correspondence, meeting notices and agendas, publications, reports, academic papers, and miscellaneous other documents are present in these first two groups. Walter Lyon's personal file comprises the third group, with personal correspondence, interviews relative to Lyon's career and the career of Karl Mason, publications, speeches and general files, included in ten boxes. Finally, audio and graphics files, which encompass audio tapes, camera cards, lantern slides, microfiche, microfilm, negatives (4"x5"), photographs, slides and video tapes, are contained in the fourth section.


  • International Joint Commission
  • Interstate Commissions
  • Pennsylvania

  • Air Pollution Files, 1973-2002. (1 box) {#472m.27} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Acid Rain and Biology Files, 1958-1996. (10 folders) {#472m.28} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Environmental Engineering Files, 1924-1998. (1 box) {#472m.35} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Science and Technology Files, 1950-1996. (1 box) {#472m.59} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Swimming Places, 1942-1992. (9 folders) {#472m.60} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Economics, Demography and Geography Materials, 1938-1996. (2 boxes) {#472m.88} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Biographies, 1984-1999. (2 boxes) {#472m.89} [Description] [Holdings]

  • Pennsylvania Solid Wastes
  • Drinking Water
  • Energy and Environment
  • Environmental Monitoring and Mapping
  • Government and Public Administration
  • Mining and Geology
  • Natural Resources and Recreation
  • Public Health

  • Water Resources

  • Water Quality

  • General Files, 1958-1981, 2007. (3 boxes) {#472m.90} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Interviews, 2005, 2006. (1 box) {#472m.101} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Newspaper and Original Publications, 1951-2002. (4 boxes) {#472m.91} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Personal Correspondence, 1980, 1981. (1 box) {#472m.92} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Speeches and Speech Notes, 1958-1999. (3 boxes) {#472m.93} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Testimony and Legal Reports, 1994-2001. (2 boxes) {#472m.100} [Description] [Holdings]


  • Audio Tapes, [ca. 1956-1977]. (1 box) {#472m.94} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Lantern Slides, [ca. 1940s-1960s]. (3 boxes) {#472m.95} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Microfiche, Microfilm, Negatives (4"x5") and Camera Cards, [ca. 1950s-1978]. (1 box) {#472m.96} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Photographs, [ca. 1960s]. (1 binder) {#472m.97} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Slides (35mm), [ca. 1950s]. (1 binder) {#472m.98} [Description] [Holdings]
  • Video Tapes, 1958 & [ca. 1960s]. (1 box) {#472m.99} [Description] [Holdings]

    PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records