Baumgarten Water Current Meter

The “Moulinet de Baumgarten” is a horizontal-axis instrument based on the form that had been introduced by a German hydraulic engineer named Reinhard Woltman, and modified by a French hydraulic engineer named André G. A. Baumgarten. This example is 17 inches long, with a three-inch diameter wheel and a four-blade rudder. It was probably made in France in the 1850s or 1860s. A tag on the box reads “LOCKS AND CANALS 66 BROADWAY LOWELL MASS.” The Proprietors of the Locks and Canals, the corporation that developed water transportation along the Merrimack River and water power for the town of Lowell, Mass., gave it to the Smithsonian in 1956.
Ref: A. G. A. Baumgarten, “Sur le moulinet de Woltmann destiné à mesurer les vitesses de l’eau, sur son perfectionment et sur les experiences avec cet instrument,” Annales des Ponts et Chausées, Memoires et Documents (1847): 326-357.
Jules Salleron, Notice sur les Instruments de Précision (Paris, 1864), parts 2 and 3, p. 164.
Clemens Herschel, “Gauging the Flow of Rivers,” Journal of the Franklin Institute 57 (1869): 305-315.
Arthur H. Frazier, Water Current Meters in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of History and Technology (Washington, D.C., 1974), pp. 56-57.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1850-1870
place made
overall: 17 in; 43.18 cm
overall: 5 3/4 in x 19 1/4 in x 6 in; 14.605 cm x 48.895 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Proprietors of the Locks and Canals
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Water Currents
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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