Bridges of Königsberg.
A few days ago I was strolling around our quiet neighborhood with my infant son. We approached a T in the road. From the left came our local postal delivery guy. From the right rumbled a street zamboni. Can you blame me for feeling as if I had found myself inside some sort of graph theory nightmare?
Turning to the section on Eulerian chains in my undergrad discrete math textbook---Applied Combinatorics---by Fred S. Roberts, I found this sentence: "A large area for applications of combinatorial techniques is the area of urban services."(467) Roberts goes on to list a slew of published studies taking on problems ranging from optimizing snow removal routes to assigning municipal workers' shifts.
Here we have an interesting example of non-military state science sponsorship (even if its just a matter of the state providing the problem). There must be some good historical work out there on this, right? Off the top of my head, I'm drawing a blank. But the comments section is open for suggestions.