Haskell Current Meter

Eugene Elwin Haskell graduated from Cornell University in 1879, spent a few years with the U.S. Lake Survey, and then joined the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. For the purpose plotting the currents in New York Harbor he designed a horizontal-axis, screw-type current meter, the results of which could be read electrically.
John Wesley Powell, the first director of U.S. Irrigation Survey, a project of the U.S. Geological Survey, explained that the wheel of this meter “is of the propeller type, conical in longitudinal projection, thus cleaning itself from leaves and grass,” adding that “There is no question that this is the best type of wheel yet presented for a current meter.” “Beyond the inconvenience of wires and batteries common to all electric meters,” Powell went on to say, “the Haskell is superior to any form yet tried.”
This example is a variation of the Haskell meter as conceived in the late 1880s by engineers of the U.S. Irrigation Survey. It is marked “U.S.G.S. No. 3” and “J. S. J. Lallie, Maker, Denver, Colo.” The U.S. Geological Survey transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1908.
John S. J. Lallie was born in Marseilles, France, in 1856, and came to the U.S. in 1864. In 1888, after working as a surveyor for some time, he established the Western Mathematical Instrument Co. in Denver. From 1891 until his death in 1911, he traded as J. S. J. Lallie.
Ref: E.E. Haskell, “Ship’s Log,” U.S. Patent 384362 (1888).
J. W. Powell, “Irrigation Survey—Second Annual Report,” in Report of the Secretary of the Interior (Washington, D.C., 1890), vol. 4, part 2, p. 9.
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
current meter
date made
ca 1890
place made
United States: Colorado, Denver
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
U. S. Geological Survey

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