Stream gaging sure was a dapper occupation at the turn of the century! Here's the various techniques United States Geological Survey hydrologists used to measure current without even dipping a toe into the streams and rivers.
Current flow measurement of the Arkansas River in 1890. Image credit: USGS
These dapper lads are a pair of United States Geological Survey hydrologists measuring the current flow of the Arkansas River from a cable-suspended stream-gaging car in 1890. These hydrologists were hard at work measuring the velocity of water within the Arkansas River near Cañon City in Fremont County of Colorado.
Measuring Rum River water velocity from a suspended platform upstream of a millpond near Anoka, Minnesota. Image credit: USGS
Their photograph was included in the 1901 United States Geological Survey water supply paper 56, Methods of stream measurement, along with an entire collection of downright dashing scientists modelling field techniques. Other techniques described by author Frederick Haynes Newell include measuring from bridges, ferries, the shoreline, and even specialized dams called weirs.
Stream measurement from a cable car above the Shenandoah River near Millville, West Virginia. Image credit: USGS
Gaging station on Clear Creek in Wyoming. Image credit: USGS
Stream gage measurement from a weir, a shallow dam above an open channel, in the Los Angeles River, California. Image credit: USGS
Stream measurements from a suspension bridge over the Neshaminy Creek in Rush Valley, Pennsylvania. Image credit: USGS
Using an Ellis meter from a bridge above the Mississippi River near Anoka, Minnesota. Image credit: USGS
Measuring the Mississippi River from a boat and cable upstream of the mouth of the Crow Wing River in Minnesota. Image credit: USGS
Measuring velocity from a ferryboat in the Tugaloo River near Fort Madison, South Carolina. Image credit: USGS
Pulling a boat along a cable looks awfully celebratory on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Image credit: USGS