Kenneth R. Wright, president and chief engineer of Wright Water Engineers in Denver,
CO USA, has studied and investigated the paleohydrology of Machu Picchu (Peru) and two ancient
sites at Mesa Verde National Park (CO). Wright is a civil engineer and business school graduate
of the University of Wisconsin. When the mapmakers at National Geographic created an image
of how Machu Picchu must have looked during its peak, they turned to Kenneth and his wife Ruth for
assistance. The pair gladly accommodated. The following paragraphs about Kenneth and Ruth
appeared on National Geographic's (2002) website.
". . . Kenneth Wright has written Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel
(ASCE Press, 2000) and many other published reports on the infrastructure of the prehistoric
city. Ruth, a lawyer with a special interest in city planning, recently wrote The Machu Picchu
Guidebook (Johnson Books, 2001), which contains a highly detailed site map of the ruins.
The couple's interest in Machu Picchu began in 1974, when Ruth first visited the Inca landmark
with their two daughters. She was puzzled by how the Inca were able to obtain water for daily
needs on such a high mountain ridge.
She posed the question to Kenneth after returning home, and 'we vowed to go back and explore,'
Ruth said in a telephone interview. They tried for 20 years to get a government permit to study the
prehistoric water supply of Machu Picchu, but were unsuccessful. Finally, in 1994, they obtained
Since they they've returned to the site a dozen times to do in-depth research on paleohydrology,
the drainage system, agricultural production, building foundations, and other aspects of
infrastructure. . . . The Wrights work closely with local archeologists and government personnel.
'They do the archeology and we do the technical work,' Kenneth said."
According to Civil Engineering (2001) Magazine, "Much of the manpower for the research
at Machu Picchu has come from his (Kenneth's) own employees, who volunteer their time and expertise.
To Wright, it is a valuable opportunity for employee development. 'They learn a lot from the
archeologists,' he says, ‘Discipline, focus, documentation.' Perhaps they also learn from the
Inca–the value of engineering for long-term sustainability and of exercising a high standard of
Wright's company is the sole source of funding for the research. He sees the pro bono
research expeditions as a natural outgrowth of the company mission. ‘The reason it works is that
it's the same kind of work we do for clients,' he says. Every week, the staff used to have public
relations meetings. ‘We don't have those anymore,' Wright says. The company's paleohydrological
work at Machu Picchu, he says, generates so much interest from clients that it renders additional
public relations work unnecessary."
Parsell, D.L., 2002. "How Geographic Re-Created Machu Picchu for a New Map,"
Brown, Jeff, 2001. "Discovering the Lost City," Civil Engineering, April, p. 39.