Price Water Current Meter

William Gunn Price, of the U.S. Engineer Department, designed an exceptionally successful and robust current meter in 1882. According to his 1885 patent, the aim of the design was “to effectively exclude dirt or gritty matter from the bearings or contact thereof.” This example was probably made in the machine shops of the U.S. Geological Survey in the 1890s. It has a four-blade rudder, and a five-conical bucket wheel mounted on a vertical axis. It is 24 inches long. The wheel support is marked “U.S.G.S. 724 HYDRO.” The Geological Survey transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1916.
Ref: William Gunn Price, “Current Meter,” U.S. Patent 325,011 (1885).
Arthur H. Frazier, William Gunn Price and the Price Current Meters (Washington, D.C., 1967), p. 50.
Arthur H. Frazier, Water Current Meters in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of History and Technology (Washington, D.C., 1974), pp. 80-81.
Currently not on view
Object Name
water current meter
date made
overall: 24 in; 60.96 cm
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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