Price Water Current Meter

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William Gunn Price of the U.S. Corps of Engineers designed a water current meter in 1882, obtained a patent, and arranged with W. & L. E. Gurley, a large instrument firm in Troy, N.Y., for commercial production. Gurley Precision Instruments offers improved models of Price meters to this day.
This is an example of Gurley’s “Deep Water and Harbor Meter.” It has a four-blade rudder and a wheel with five conical buckets, and measures 34 inches long overall. A tag on the wheel housing reads “R. R. S. No. 1 / W. G. PRICE / PAT. AUG. 25, 1885 / No. 28 / W. & L. E. GURLEY / TROY, N.Y.” The Mississippi River Commission bought it around 1890 and used it at various points between Rosedale and Vicksburg. The Engineer Office of the U.S. War Department transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1939.
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.
W. & L. E. Gurley, Manual of the Principle Instruments Used in American Engineering and Surveying (Troy, N.Y., 1893), p. 244.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1890
W. & L. E. Gurley
place made
United States: New York, Troy
overall: 34 in; 86.36 cm
overall: 5 in x 33 3/4 in x 7 3/8 in; 12.7 cm x 85.725 cm x 18.7325 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
U.S. War Department
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Water Currents
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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