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Reclamation's Hydraulic Laboratory
Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Reclamation began using hydraulic models in 1930 in the laboratory of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station in Fort Collins to study problems encountered in the design and construction of engineering structures. The unprecedented scale of Hoover , Shasta, and Grand Coulee Dams made the establishment of a hydraulic laboratory necessary to evaluate various aspects of the new designs. Models could be tested under various conditions until sufficient information was obtained to establish the most favorable design. The use of scale models and the establishment of scaling relationships to simulate full scale hydraulic structures in smaller scale models were established in Europe early in the 20th century.

Investigations with hydraulic models had their start in the Bureau of Reclamation in August 1930 when thirteen engineers, technicians, and craftsmen from the Denver Reclamation Office began working in the hydraulic laboratory of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station in Fort Collins , Colorado . The 242 square meter laboratory was originally built in 1912 under the direction of Ralph Parshall.

In August 2005 the Water Resources Research Laboratory (Hydraulics Laboratory) hosted an open house with guest speakers and laboratory tours to commemorate seventy-five years of historical operations in support of development and conservation of water resources in the Western United States.

Powerpoint Files from Anniversary Activities

old photo

Bureau of Reclamation staff at Hydraulic Laboratory, Ft. Collins, Colorado, April 1931

Back Row: Richard R. Randolf, Emory W. Lane, Virgil C. Hammond, Joseph N. Bradley, Charles W. Thomas, Graydon C. Wright. Front Row: Vincent T. Bliss, Robert A. Goodpasture, Walter H. Price, James W. Ball, Richard J. Willson, William O. Parker, Whitney M. Borland.

Last reviewed: 08/22/05