Boyden Hook Gauge

Uriah Atherton Boyden was a consulting engineer in Boston whose water wheels and turbines brought him riches and fame. He also introduced a hook gauge for determining the depth of water flowing over a weir or dam. James B. Francis, the engineer who designed most of the water power systems used at Lowell, Mass., in the mid-nineteenth century, described this hook gauge as “an instrument of inestimable value in hydraulic experiments.” Francis went on to say that “All other known methods of measuring the heights of the surface of still water, are seriously incommoded by the effects of capillary attraction; this instrument, on the contrary, owes its extraordinary precision to that phenomenon.”
Several American firms offered instruments of this sort. This unsigned example came to the Smithsonian in 1956, a donation from the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals at Lowell. It may have been used by Francis.
Ref: James B. Francis, Lowell Hydraulic Experiments (New York, 1855), pp. 18-19.
Keuffel & Esser, Catalogue (New York, 1913): 461.
Currently not on view
date made
mid 19th century
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Proprietors of the Locks and Canals
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Water Currents
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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