Ritchie-Haskell Water Current Meter

Eugene Elwin Haskell graduated from Cornell University in 1879 and spent a few years with the U.S. Lake Survey. He then joined the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and was assigned the task of plotting the currents in New York Harbor. Working with Edward S. Ritchie, a leading navigational instrument maker in Massachusetts, Haskell developed a horizontal-axis, screw-type current meter with a direction-indicating facility, the results of which could be read electrically. By 1888, the Survey was favoring the Ritchie-Haskell form, noting that these new meters “combine, in one instrument, a means of registering by electricity the velocity of a current and the direction of its flow” and that the “registration is made on the vessels deck without removing the instrument from the water.”
This example is marked “E.S. Ritchie & Sons, Brookline, Mass. U.S.A.” The National Bureau of Standards, the organization that calibrated current meters for federal agencies and engineers in private practice, transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1959.
Ref: E.E. Haskell, “Ship’s Log,” U.S. Patent 384362 (1888).
Report of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey for the Fiscal Year Ending June 1888 (Washington, D.C., 1889), p. 37.
“The Ritchie-Haskell Direction-Current Meter,” Engineering News 33 (1895): 27-28.
Arthur H. Frazier, Water Current Meters in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of History and Technology (Washington, D.C., 1974), pp. 64-67.
Currently not on view
Object Name
water current meter
date made
after 1888
E. S. Ritchie & Sons
overall: 23 1/2 in; 59.69 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Brookline
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
Water Currents
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Water Currents
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
National Bureau of Standards

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