Colorado Water History
Father of the Flume: Ralph Parshall
Ralph L. Parshall (1881-1959) is one of the most celebrated internationally-known alumni and faculty members in the history of Colorado State University. A pioneer in the fields of civil engineering and hydrology, Parshall is best known for developing the Parshall Flume at the then-named Colorado Agricultural College's hydrology lab in 1921. Noticing problems with stream flow measurements, Parshall developed the device that, when placed in a channel, measures the flow of the water as it uniquely relates to water depth. Today, the Parshall flume is still widely used to help obtain more accurate measurements of water flow.
This exhibit depicts events in Parshall's long and productive association with what is now Colorado State University. From his start as a freshman in 1899 to his appointment to the faculty, development of the flume and subsequent honors from the College, Ralph Parshall's career at the college is traced through photos and personal objects, highlighting the remarkable successes that have served to make Parshall such a recognized and remarkable alumnus.
Learn more through the Ralph L. Parshall Collection in the Water Resources Archive and materials digitized from the collection. Additionally, the Irrigation Research Papers contains materials (some digitized) from Parshall's team at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.