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Follow the History of the USGS Gage at ECHO


Photo showing example of how an observer would record the lake level using a staff gage.
Lake level readings in Burlington, Vermont first began on May 1, 1907. For 30 years, manual readings of the lake level were taken each day by someone hired as a local observer (see pictures on left and right). The level was recorded by reading a staff gage attached to the wharf of the Champlain Transportation Company.
Photo of staff gage to measure water level
From July 20, 1937 to Sept. 7, 1939, the gage used a float and steel tape mechanism (see picture on right) located in the pump house of the Burlington Water Department. The level of the float was read from the tape and recorded daily by an observer.
Photo of old float to measure water level

Photo of concrete gage house in Burlington, Vt

On September 8, 1939, the first automatic recorder to continuously plot or chart water levels was installed (see picture on right). It was located in a concrete gage house (see picture on left) a half mile north of the present ECHO site.
Photo of old wire recorder used to continuously plot water levels.
In the early 1960s, the recorder was upgraded to one that continuously punched holes in a paper tape to represent water levels (see picture on right). The punched tape could be removed from the gage house and read by machines located in USGS offices.
Photo of digital recorder with punch tape used to continuously plot water level
In the 1990s, technology improved and an electronic data-collection platform (see picture on right) replaced the punch tape recorder. The water levels were then transmitted to a satellite and then to USGS computers in near real-time.
Photo of equipment inside gage house.

Photo of new gage box on pier at ECHO Science Center
In December 2004, the gaging station was moved to the ECHO dock and redesigned (see picture on left). At that time, the instruments for measuring temperature and specific conductance were added (see picture on right for example of gage equipment).
Photo of equipment used in new gage box


U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Page Last Modified: January 3, 2013

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