Buff and Berger Water Current Meter

This is a modification of the Fteley-Stearns meter. It is marked “BUFF & BERGER / BOSTON” and thus was made between 1871 and 1898. The Proprietors of the Locks and Canals in Lowell, Mass., donated it to the Smithsonian in 1956.
This was probably designed by Arthur T. Safford, a hydraulic engineer who was associated with the Locks and Canals for over fifty years. Safford’s modification of the Fteley-Stearns meter, available by 1911, had fewer vanes than the original (five rather eight), a larger rotor (5 inches diameter rather than 3.5-inch), and a somewhat heavier frame. This example has six vanes, a 5-inch diameter rotor, and a heavier frame. A paper in the box shows that it was rated in 1911.
Ref: Hector Hughes and Arthur T. Safford, A Treatise on Hydraulics (New York, 1911), pp. 254-257.
Arthur H. Frazier, Water Current Meters in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of History and Technology (Washington, D.C., 1974), p. 60.
“Arthur T. Safford,” Boston Globe (April 4, 1951), p. 25.
"Arthur Truman Safford," Journal of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers 38-39 (1951).
Hunter Rouse, Hydraulics in the United States, 1776-1976 (Institute of Hydraulic Research).
Currently not on view
Object Name
water current meter
date made
Safford, Arthur T.
Buff & Berger
overall: 5 in; 12.7 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Water Currents
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


Add a comment about this object