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Charles R. Ross Papers

Identifier: mss-038

Scope and Content Note

The Ross Papers document the years on the Federal Power Commission (1961-68) and International Joint Commission (1962-81). There are also materials relating to other matters including environmental, energy, diplomatic, and legal issues.

FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION: The FPC regulates the interstate aspects of electric power and natural gas industries. It was created in 1920 to administer the Federal Water Powers Act, and it has five full-time commissioners appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The FPC was absorbed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1977. The FPC papers (1958-1969) consist of approximately 40 document boxes and were a gift from Ross in 1971.

The first nine boxes relate to the Northeast Power Failure of 1964 and the Northeast Blackout of November, 1965. Included are various reports from regional and advisory committees regarding utilities, related surveys, and memoranda from conferences.

There is a considerable body of material on the National Power Survey of 1964. Most of the materials relating to the Northeast Blackout of 1965 are transcripts and proceedings of hearings. There are also materials relating to the FPC's report to the President regarding the 1965 Blackout. The 1965 power failure involved 28 utilities in the U.S. and the Hydro-electric Power Commission of Ontario (HEPCO) which together make up the Canada-U.S. Eastern Interconnection (CANUSE).

Consolidated Edison's Project #2338, the "Storm King" Decision is documented in boxes 10-13. In March 1965, the FPC approved Consolidated Edison of New York's power project on the Hudson River known as the 'Storm King' project. Charles Ross was the only member to have a dissenting opinion in this case. His opinion was one of the first that favored environmental concerns over business interests. The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with Ross and set aside the license for the project. The papers consist mostly of hearing proceedings, but there is also correspondence, reports, and news clippings.

Boxes 14 and 15 relate to the Northf d.e].d. Pump Project _#3J38.9. and #2485. This involved a joint application of the Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P), the Hartford Electric Light Company (HELCO) and the Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) for a license to construct and operate the proposed Northfield Mountain Pump Storage Project (#2485) on the east bank of the Connecticut River in the towns of Erving and Northfield, near Greenfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts. WMECO simultaneously filed an application for amendment of its existing license for the Turners Falls Hydro-electric development (Project #1889) to authorize raising of the Turner Falls reservoir to enable its use as the lower pool of the proposed pump storage project. Again, this material is mainly hearing proceedings and briefs.

Within the FPC papers, Boxes 16-18 document the International Joint Commission's (IJC) examination of the Champlain Waterway. The U.S. and Canadian governments requested an investigation into the practicality of constructing a deep waterway from the St. Lawrence River to the Hudson via Lake Champlain. The IJC studied the waterway for commercial navigation first in 1936 and then again in 1962. They assembled the International Waterway Board to look into the issue and provide studies. After the first consideration in 1936, it was decided to table the issue until after the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed. In the 1960s, it was found that commercial navigation was not economically feasable but that the area had great potential for recreational development. The papers on the Champlain Waterway consist of hearings and reports.

Boxes 19 and 28 relate to the Water Resources Council, established in 1965. Included are the Council's operations from 1966-1967. The Water Resources Legislation of 1965 called for the formation of a cabinet-level water council made up of the Secretaries of the Interior, Army Corps of Engineers, Health Education and Welfare, Agriculture, and the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission. The Council was given the authority to create Interstate River Basin Commissions, which funded water resources planning projects.

The High Mountain Sheep Project deals with an application from the Pacific Northwest Power Company (PNPC) which is included in Boxes 21 and 22. The PNPC, a private power combine, wanted to build Mountain Sheep Dam on the Snake River on the Oregon, Idaho, and Washington borders. The Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS), a combination public utility district, wanted to build their own project on the Nez Perce site but were refused in favor of the private utility. Materials included on this issue are applications, licenses, news clippings, decisions, and opinions.

Newspaper clippings and personal papers are found in box 23. These relate to Ross' political career, personal life, and his nomination to the Federal Power Commission.

Box 24 contains material on p_ower in New York State. The Municipal Electric Utilities Association of New York (MEUA) and United Business Associates, Inc., an Oregon Non-Profit corporation formed to obtain lower cost electric power industrial development, are documented. There are also various speeches on the topic of natural gas.

The Skelly Oil Case (Box 25) deals with South Texas Natural Gas and the TRANSCO project. The FPC enforced price ceilings on the rate of natural gas sales going to the Transmission System of TRANSCO (Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation) of Houston, Texas. Included are orders, applications, notices, opinions, and news briefs.

Box 26 relates to the issue of Power Development and Studies. Topics include Montana-Dakota Utilities, Co., New York state, Niagara and St. Lawrence Projects, and the Canadian Gas Association. These materials are mainly copies of speeches and legislation.

Box 27 documents the Extra-High Voltage Transmission Lines Case. It involved a bill to amend the Federal Powers Act so as to require FPC authority for the construction, extension, or operation of certain facilities for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce. Also included is a plan to put private power companies in control of the first Pacific Northwest-Pacific South extra-high voltage transmission system. Included in this box are correspondence and legislative material.

Water Resources (Boxes 28-31), includes issues such as the Water Resources Planning Act of 1963, the Inter-agency Committee on Water Resources, the Wild Rivers Case, drought in Northeast U.S., the Desalination National Science Rivers Bill of 1967, Water Resources Council Scenic Rivers Bill, Steam Power Plants, IJC, Niagara River Ice Boom, and Rainy and Namakin Lake Levels. Types of materials include: reports, acts, committees, correspondence, pamphlets, studies, meeting minutes, conferences, and hearing proceedings.

Box 32, Water Pollution, documents some IJC references to the Red, St. Mary's and Niagara Rivers pollution. The papers include legislation, executive orders, hearings and meetings.

The Hudson River Water Pollution Case is contained in Box 33. The issue involved legislation for a Hudson National Scenic Riverway based on New York Governor Rockefeller's plan. The Hudson River Basin Compact was a proposal to create a regional agency by intergovernmental compact for the planning, conservation, utilization, development, management, and control of the water and related land resources of the Hudson River Basin. Materials included are legislation, reports, correspondence, hearing transcripts, and studies. Box 34, Water Pollution, documents problems on the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, and oil and gas pollution on Lake Erie. Included are meeting minutes and hearing proceedings. Box 35 and 36 are IJC hearings on Lake Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River water pollution.

Natural Resources and Air Pollution (Box 37) includes papers on the Department of the Interior Geological Survey, the Committee on Natural Resources, the Federal Council for Science aechnology, the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Pollution Panel, the President's Science Advisory Committee, and the Department of Natural Resources. Types of material included are surveys, acts, panel and committee papers. Recreation and Natural Beauty (Box 38) includes the Tennessee Valley Authority, Recreation Advisory Council, Federal Water Project Recreation Act of Outdoor Recreation, White House Conference on Natural Beauty, Citizen's Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty. Materials included are pamphlets, correspondence, acts, reports, articles, news clippings, and conference papers. The President's Council on Recreation and Natural Beauty includes meeting minutes, history, notes, and reports.

Historic Preservation and Taxes (Box 40) documents the National Trust for Historic Preservation and depreciation taxes. Materials included are pamphlets, correspondence, legislation and speeches.

INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION Ross' International Joint Commission (IJC) papers are divided into four series: Meeting Minutes, Docket References, Subject Files and Publications. There are approximately 33 cartons in this part of the collection. It was a gift of Charles R. Ross in 1984.

The International Joint Commission was formed out -of the Boundary Waters Treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain in 1909. (At that time Britain was still in control of Canada's foreign affairs). The IJC regulates and resolves disputes along the Canadian-U.S. border relating to issues of water levels, water quality, environmental quality,and hydro-electric power. The commission is made up of three U.S. and three Canadian members. The U.S. members are appointed by the President with Senate approval. The Canadian members are appointed by the Governor in Council which includes the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The IJC is served by staffs in both Ottawa and Washington, DC. The IJC receives its projects by application for its approval, or by referral from the U.S. or Canadian governments to make investigations. Most of the work of the IJC in recent times is carried out by various boards and research groups composed of civil servants from federal agencies in the U.S. and Canada which have equal Canadian and U.S. membership.

Series I of the IJC materials contains two cartons of Meeting Minutes from 1969 to 1981. The IJC meets semi-annually, one meeting in Washington and the other in Ottawa. Other meetings and conferences are scheduled as needed. These are held in a variety of locales along the border, usually in the Great Lakes area. File folders contents include meeting minutes, agendas, correspondence, transcripts, and news clippings.

Series II refers to official IJC Dockets. Subdocket file categories include meetings, hearings, reports, studies, correspondence, boards, memos, press and publicity. The docket reference numbers refer to an official chronological sequence of projects.

Carton 3 includes Dockets 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, and 26. Docket 3 refers to a reference to investigate the Lake of the Woods levels. Docket 5 involves a reference concerning the Livingston Channel and Detroit Rivers. Docket 6 deals with an application from the Michigan North Power Company regarding the St. Mary's River Dam.

Docket 7 refers to an application from the Greater Winnipeg Water District regarding Shoal Lake. Docket 8 refers to Algoma Steel Corporation's application regarding the St. Mary's River Dam. Docket 9 is a reference to the St. Mary's and Milk Rivers. Docket 13 involved an application regarding the St. Clair River Channel. Docket 26 is a reference to Roseau River Drainage.

Carton 4 includes dockets 26, 28, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 44, 46, 49, and 50. Docket 28 is an application from the St. Croix Water Power Company and the Sprague Falls Manufacturing Company regarding Grand Falls Dam on the St. Croix River. Docket 36 is an application to repair the Prairie Portage Dam. Docket 38 is an application for remedial works on the Richelieu River. Docket 39 is an application regarding the Corra Linn Dam and Kootenay Lake. Docket 40 is an application from the U.S. Forest Service regarding the Prairie Portage Dam. Docket 41 is a reference to water apportionment on the Souris River. Docket 44 is an application regarding the Grand Coulee Dam. Docket 46 is an application by the city of Seattle, Washington, regarding the Ross Dam on the Skagit River. Docket 49 is an application regarding the Zosel Dam on Osoyoos Lake. Docket 50 is a reference to the Rainy and Namakin Lakes.

Carton 5 includes Dockets 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, and 58. Docket 51 is a reference to the Columbia River. Docket 53 is a reference to Sage Creek. Docket 54 is a reference to the pollution of the St. Clair River and Lake, the Detroit River and St. Mary's River. Docket 55 is a reference regarding pollution on the Niagara River. Docket 58 is a reference to the Souris and Red Rivers regarding users and apportionment of waters, also including the Rainy and Poplar Rivers.

Carton 6 includes Dockets 58, 61, 62, and 64. Docket 61 is a reference to Windsor-Detroit area vessel pollution. Docket 62 is a reference to the Niagara Falls on the U.S. side. Docket 64 is a reference to the Niagara Falls preservation and enhancement.

Carton 7 includes Dockets 62, 63, 64, 67, and 68. Docket 63 is a reference to the St. John River. Docket 67 is a reference to Lake Ontario Levels. Docket 68 is an application regarding the St. Lawrence Seaway and hydro-electric power development project.

Carton 8 includes Dockets 68, 69, 70, and 71. Docket 69 is an application regarding Libby Dam. Docket 70 is an application by Creston Reclamation Company regarding Duck Lake. Docket 71 is a reference to St. Croix River Pollution.

Carton 9 includes Dockets 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, and 77. Docket 72 is a reference to the Passamoquoddy Tidal Power Project. Docket 73 is a reference to Rainy River and Lake of the Woods pollution. Docket 74 is a reference to remedial works on Niagara Falls. Docket 75 is an application by the Power Authority of the State of New York (PASNY) and the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario (HEPCO) regarding Niagara Falls. Docket 76 is a reference to cooperative development of water resources of the Pembina River. Docket 77 is a reference to commerical navigation of the Champlain-Richelieu Waterway.

Carton 10 includes Dockets 78, 79, 80, and 81. Docket 78 is an application from PASNY regarding Shoal removal at Niagara Falls. Docket 79 is an application for an Ice Boom on Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Docket 80 is an application regarding the Vanceboro Dam on the St. Croix River. Docket 81 is a reference to Red River pollution.

Carton 11 includes Dockets 81 and 82. Docket 82 is a reference to Great Lakes Water Levels.

Carton 12 includes Dockets 82, 83, 84, and 86. Docket 83 is a reference to pollution on the Lower Great Lakes which includes Lakes Ontario and Erie and the St. Lawrence River. Docket 84 is an application from Cominco regarding Kootenay Lake. Docket 86 is a reference to the American Falls on the Niagara River.

Carton 13 includes Dockets 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, and 91. Docket 87 is an application regarding the Forest City Dam on the St. Croix River. Docket 88 is an application for Diversion from the St. Lawrence River to the Raisin River. Docket 89 is an application from the Winnipeg Metropolitan Corporation for diversion from Shoal Lake of water for domestic purposes. Docket 90 is an application by the Creston Valley Wildlife Management area regarding Duck Lake Levels. Docket 91 is a reference to the environmental consequences of flooding of the Skagit River and Ross Lake.

Carton 14 includes Dockets 91, 92, and 94. Docket 92 is a reference to the social problems of the residents of Point Roberts, Washington. Docket 94 is a reference to the pollution of the Upper Great Lakes.

Carton 15 includes Dockets 94, 95, 96, 97, and 98. Docket 95 is a reference to Pollution of the Great lakes from Land Use Activities. Docket 96 is a reference to St. John River Water Quality. Docket 97 is an application from t U.S. Department of State regarding emergency regulations of Lake Superior. Docket 98 is a reference to regulations of Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River.

Carton 16 includes Docket 98.

Carton 17 includes Docket 98, 99, 100, and 101. Docket 99 is a reference to Air Quality in the Michigan-Ontario area. Docket 100 is an application for a causeway and ice boom on Toussant Island. Docket 101 is a reference to the Garrison Diversion Project.

Carton 18 includes Dockets 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, and 107. Docket 102 is an application for Flood Control Works on the Richelieu River. Docket 103 is a reference to regulations on Lake Erie. Docket 104 is a reference regarding diversions and consumptive uses of the Great Lakes. Docket 105 is a reference regarding the formation of the Great Lakes Technical Advisory Network. Docket 106 is a reference to the formation of the Great Lakes Advisory Board. Docket 107 is a reference regarding the water quality of the Poplar River.

Carton 19 includes Dockets 107 and 200. Docket 200 refers to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972 and 1978.

Cartons 20 and 21 also include Docket 200 regarding the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Related materials in these cartons include: Acid Rain, Asbestos, Cladrephora, Dredging Work Group, Fishery Commission (Great Lakes), Hazardous Wastes, Lake Erie, Land Drainage Reference Group, Land Resources Management, Love Canal, Marine Sanitation Device, Municipal Treatment Plants, Ohio Steel, PCBs, Phosphorus Control, Pollution Control, Pollution Monitoring Workshop, Radioactivity Work Group, Research Advisory Board (Great Lakes), St. Lawrence Power, SCA Chemical Waste Service Inc., Science Advisory Board (Great Lakes), Sewage Treatment, Toxic Substances Committee, Windsor Ontario Regional Office, and Winter Navigation.

Series III , Subject Files, consists of seven cartons. Carton 22 includes the topics of: Acid Rain, Asbestos Pollution, British Columbia Hydro, Canada-U.S. Relations, Canadian Government and the Can-Am Committee. Carton 23 includes the topics of: Columbia River Treaty, Council on Foreign Relations, Pearson Institute of Ecology, Energy Policy, Federal Power Commission, Flathead River-Cabin Creek, Garrison Diversion, and Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Carton 24 includes the topics of: The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Great Lakes Research/Science Advisory Boards, Great Lakes Water Quality Board, International Environment and National Sovreignty conferences.

Carton 25 contains: International Joint Commission, International Conference on Water for Peace, International Law, Lake Erie-Ohio River Canal, Marine Sanitation Devices and the Maritime Provinces-Maine. Carton 26 contains: National division of the IJC conclusions, Canadian National Energy Board, New England Power Pool (NEPOOL) and Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) and Quebec power agreements, New England Energy, Nuclear Energy, and Ontario Hydro. Carton 27 includes the issues of: the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Transfrentier pollution group, Air and water pollution, Pollution monitoring, Poplar River, Quebec Hydro, Recapture Legislation (FPC). Carton 28 contains material on the subjects of: Ross1 personal files, St. Lawrence Seaway, Skagit River-Ross Dam, U.N. Water, Rivers, and Human Environment conferences, Vermont-Quebec, Vessel Wastes, Virology research, Voyageurs National Park.

Throughout Series III are files that Ross kept regarding various IJC commissioners and academics involved in IJC research and writings.

Series IV, (Cartons 29-33) is made up of IJC-related publications and printed matter. These are mostly environmental reports and take up five cartons. There are also some publications regarding Canadian-U.S. relations. The most significant publication is a four volume "Reports and Orders of the IJC" which is arranged chronologically covering Ross' 19 year term on the International Joint Commission.


  • Majority of material found within 1952-1982
  • 1936-1982


Biographical Note

FAMILY LIFE: Charles Robert Ross was born in Middlebury, Vermont on February 24, 1920. He was the son of Dr. Jacob Johnson Ross of Huntington, Vermont and Hannah Elizabeth (Holmes) of Charlotte. On August 28, 1948 he married Charlotte Sells Hoyt. They had three children: Jacqueline Hoyt, Peter Holmes, and Charles Robert Jr.

EDUCATION: Mr. Ross attended primary and secondary schools in the Middlebury area. He received a Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1941. Ross also received his Master of Business Administration and Law degrees from Michigan in 1948.

EMPLOYMENT: In 1948, Ross began his working career as an instructor in Business Law and Government at Oregon State College. He was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1949, and served as counsel to the Derby Construction Company of Louisville, Kentucky from 1949 to 1953. Ross was also admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1954 and held a private law practice full-time until 1957. Mr. Ross was admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court in 1968. From 1968-73, he was an adjunct professor of economics at the University of Vermont. Ross has been a consultant in the environmental and regulatory fields for such groups as the .New England Regional Commission for the study of New England's power future. Ross continued to practice law on a part-time basis during these years. He owns and operates a Morgan horse breeding farm, Taproot, in Hinesburg.

PUBLIC SERVICE POSITIONS: Charles Ross served as captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1942-46, during the Second World War. In 1959, he was appointed to the Vermont Public Service Commission for a six-year term and designated Chairman. In 1961, Ross resigned from the Vermont Public Service Commission due to a request by President John F. Kennedy that Ross fill out an unexpired term on the Federal Power Commission (FPC) in Washington, DC. This appointment was for a term expiring in 1964. President Johnson then renominated Ross for the FPC to serve until 1969 but Ross resigned in 1968 to return to Vermont.

Mr. Ross was also appointed by President Kennedy to serve simultaneously as a member of the United States Section of the International Joint Commission (IJC) in 1962. This body is equally composed of three Canadian and three U.S. members. The commissioners are charged with resolving environmental border disputes. Ross was subsequently reappointed to the IJC by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. Ross won support for his reappointments from the Vermont delegation during those years, especially Senators Aiken, Stafford, and Leahy, and he served on the IJC until 1981.

In the early 1970s, Ross served as the President of Public Resources, Incorporated. This group was retained by the Sierra Club to hold a national conference on Energy Policy which was held in Johnson, Vermont. He served as a member of the Ford Foundation Energy Policy Project which produced a report entitled "A Time to Choose." Ross was a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States. He also served as a trustee of the Environmental Defense Trust Fund.

POLITICAL CAREER: From 1957-1959, Ross served as a member of the Burlington, Vermont Board of Aldermen. He ran for Chittenden County State Senator in 1958, but lost that race. Ross also ran for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in 1970, but was defeated in the primary. He was an active Republican and was considered to be a'moderate/liberal within the party. Ross was known as a consumer advocate because of his staunch tenure of public interests while on the FPC and the IJC

Biographical Notes on Important Ross Correspondents

BOURNE, Charles B. - Educator in International Law at the Universities of British Columbia and Saskatchewan; Lawyer and Legal Advisor to the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa and the IJC, 1971-72.

BULKLEY, Jonathan W. - Civil Engineering Professor at the University of Michigan.

BURPEE, Lawrence J. - First Canadian Section of the IJC Secretary, 1912-1946.

CARROLL, John E. - Professor of Environmental Conservation at the University of New Hampshire.

COHEN, Maxwell - Law Dean at McGill University, Montreal; Engineering Professor at Laval University, Quebec City; Canadian IJC Chairman, 1974-79.

DUPUIS, Dr. Rene - Hydro Quebec Commissioner; Canadian IJC Commissioner, 1962-69.

DWORSKY, Donald L. - University of Wisconsin at Madison.

DWORSKY, Leonard - Director of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Water Resources and Marine Sciences Center at Cornell University.

HEENEY, Arnold D.P. - Quebec lawyer; U.S. Ambassador; Canadian IJC Chairman, 1962-70.

HENNESSEY, Jean L. - Director, New Hampshire Council of Budget and Management; U.S. IJC Commissioner, 1979-81.

HENRY, Keith - Engineer, Vancouver, British Columbia; Canadian IJC Commissioner, 1979-81.

HERTER, Christian A., Jr. - Member Massachusetts House of Representatives; Director, Office of Environment, U.S. State Department; U.S. IJC Chairman, 1970-75.

HODSON, Stuart M. - Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (Canada) ; Canadian IJC Chairman, 1979-81.

MACCALLUM, Lloyd - Canadian IJC Legal Advisor, late 1960s to mid-1970s.

OAKLEY, Kenneth A. - Director, Windsor, Ontario IJC Regional Office (Great Lakes), 1974-80.

ROBICHAUD, Louis J. - Premier of New Brunswick; Canadian IJC Chairman, 1971-73.

SCOTT, Anthony - Economic Professor at the University of British Columbia; Canadian IJC Commissioner, 1968-71.

SMITH, Henry P. Ill - New York U.S. Congressman; U.S. IJC Chairman, 1975-78.

SMITH, Victor J. - Editor and Publisher, Robinson, Illinois; U.S. IJC Commissioner, 1973-78.

THOMPSON, Murray W. - Canadian IJC Chief Engineer, mid-1960s to late-1970s.

WEBER, Eugene W. - Member, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. IJC Commissioner, 1948-73.

WELSH, Matthew E. - Governor of Indiana; U.S. IJC Chairman, 1965-72.


58.0 Linear feet (40 boxes, 33 cartons, 1 reel microfilm)

Language of Materials



Collection includes correspondence, reports, copies of Federal Power Commission hearings, printed material, and newspapers clippings, relating to Ross’s position as a Federal Power Commissioner, the Champlain Waterway Project (1962-67), the High Mountain Sheep Project (1955-64), the Northfield Pump Project (1965-67), the Water Resources Council (1966-67), and in particular the Northeast Power Failure of 1965.


Gift of Charles R. Ross, August 1986

Guide to the Charles R. Ross Papers
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Diane M. Stockton
1986 September
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Title II-C Strengthening Library Resources Grant

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)