CSU Archives and Special Collections

CSU Buildings and Grounds History

A history of CSU's building and grounds from 1870 to the present.

Research Irrigation Laboratory/Hydraulics Laboratory, 1913-1966

A one-story brick building with a concrete foundation. A concrete ditch leads away from it.

Hydraulics Laboratory, undated

From CSU's Sense of Place:  A Campus History of Colorado's Land-Grant University, by James E. Hansen, Gordon A. Hazard, and Linda M. Meyer.  Fort Collins, CO:  Colorado State University, 2018.

Designer – Ralph L. Parshall (1913)

Builder – College Farm staff (excavation and head reservoir), James Whedbee (calibration reservoir)

Construction began in the fall of 1912 on this working laboratory for the rapidly growing Irrigation Engineering program. Designed by civil engineering professor Ralph L. Parshall, it was built as a joint effort of the Experiment Station and the USDA for their testing projects.  Located west of the Poultry Department, it was completed and opened the summer of 1913.  It featured a massive round “head reservoir” that was 6.5’ deep and 87’ in diameter located on the highest point of the hill.  This in turn was connected to the “calibration reservoir” located below by means of a headrace and large weir box about 100’ in length.  An “auxiliary reservoir” was connected to the “calibration reservoir”.  All were constructed of reinforced concrete and equipped with electric pumps to move water in and out of the 40’ x 70’ red brick building at precise amounts and velocities.  The Hydraulics Laboratory (known for a time as the Research Irrigation Laboratory) underwent numerous renovations and additions as needs changed and funds became available. 

With the help of Public Works Administration (PWA) funds approved in 1935, a major remodeling and addition to the original building was dedicated on June 27, 1936.  This made the building 96’ x 110’ and cost $18,300.  Now two separate water experiments could be done at the same time.

In 1947, Maurice Albertson joined the faculty.  He was an exceptional promoter and was able to bring in large amounts of grant money for hydraulics research projects.  An 80’ x 100’ addition was built in 1951.  Paid for by grant funds, this addition nearly doubled the size of the facility.

The main building was connected by an enclosed hallway to the west end of the new Engineering-Physics Building from 1957 until 1966.  The large round elevated reservoir tank was removed during the original site clearing of the new CSU Student Center in 1959.  The program moved out to the new facilities at the Engineering Research Center at the Foothills Hills campus in the early 1960s, and the remaining buildings of the old lab were demolished in late October 1966 to make way for the north addition to the CSU Student Center.

Sources by Gordon A. Hazard

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 4, 1912, page 7, vol. 22, number 4.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, November 1, 1912, page 275, vol. Dec. 1905 - Dec. 1916.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 17, 1913, pages 1 and 4, vol. XXIII, number 2.

Report of the President of the Agricultural College at the Annual Meeting of the State Board of Agriculture on December 10, 1913, page 21.

“Colorado Agricultural College Bulletin – Engineering the Vocation for the Young Man with Ambition”, Series 15, Number 3, April 1915, by Ralph L. Crosman.

“Hydraulics and Related Photos – some dated 1915” album CE8.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, February 10, 1925, page 1, col. 8, vol. XXXIV, number 39.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, May 11, 1926, page 1, vol.  XXXV, number 34.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 21, 1928, page 4, col. 8, vol. XXXVIII, number 2.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, November 4, 1931, page 1, vol. XLI, number 9.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, June 1, 1932, page 98.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, December 14, 1932, page 6, col. 6-7, vol. XLII, number 15.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, February 1933, page 2, vol. 13, number 8.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, April 19, 1933, page 6, col. 2, vol. XLII, number 30.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, October 20, 1933, page 171, vol. Sept. 1930 – Aug. 1940.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, January 9, 1934, page 179, vol. Sept. 1930 – Aug. 1940.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, February 24, 1934, pages 196-197, vol. Sept. 1930 – Aug. 1940.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, June 27, 1934, pages 248-249, vol. Sept. 1930 – Aug. 1940.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, July 24, 1935, page 286.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 11, 1935, page 1, vol. XLV, number 2.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, April 8, 1936, page 1, vol. XLV, number 29.

Colorado Aggie Alumnus, June – July 1936, page 3, col. 1, vol. 17, numbers 1 and 2.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, December 8, 1937, page 459.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, February 6, 1948, page 1, col. 6-7, vol. LVII, number 15.

Colorado A&M News, June 1951, page 1, vol. 5, number 12.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 5, 1951, page 12, vol. LXI, number 3.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 19, 1951, page 3 of pictorial supplement, vol. LXI, number 5.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, November 9, 1951, page 20.

“Long Range Development Program”, Report to the Colorado State Planning Commission, March 1952, page s10, 13, 26 and campus maps.

Colorado A&M News, August 1952, pages 2-3, vol. 7, number 2.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 26, 1952, page 1, Vol. LXII, number 3.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, November - December 1952, pages 4-5, vol. XXIX, number 3.

University Historic Photo Collection, images B5947, B5957C, B5957D dated November 1954.

Colorado State University News, July 1957, pages 2, 3, 7, vol. 12, number 1.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, November 5, 1957, page 3, vol. LXVI, number 14.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, November - December 1957, page 4, vol. 34, number 2.

Colorado State University News, January 1958, page 4, vol. 12, number 7.

Colorado State University News, March 1958, page 2, vol. 12, number 9.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, March – April 1958, page 5, vol. 34, number 4.

Colorado State University News, May1958, page 9, vol. 12, number 11.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, July – August 1958, page 3, vol. 34, number 5.

Colorado State University News, April 1959, page 10, vol. 13, number 9.

University Historic Photo Collection, image B8147D, dated March 1960.

University Historic Photo Collection, image B8318D, dated September 1960.

University Historic Photo Collection, image B8499, dated April 1961.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, March - April 1963, pages 8-9, vol. 37, number 12.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, September 23, 1966, page 135.

CSU Collegian, October 26, 1966, page 3, vol. LXXV, number 25.

“A History of Colorado State University 1870 – 1974”, by James E. Hansen II, 1974.

“Democracy’s College in the Centennial State – A History of Colorado State University” by James E. Hansen II, 1977, pp. 392, 396, 419.

State Board of Agriculture Land: Chuck Terrell Interview, June 1986, page 9.

“One Hundred Years of Engineering at Colorado State University: Fulfilling the Land-Grant Mission” by Ann Hilfinger, 1989, pages 33, 44-45.

State Board of Agriculture Land: Chuck Terrell Conversation, October 26, 1992, pages 6 and 7.

“Democracy’s University – A History of Colorado State University 1970 – 2003” by James E. Hansen II, 2007, pp. 14, 18, 22.

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