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History of the Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center

Oklahoma and Texas water science centers have been separate entities until the end of June 2019, when the two merged and formed Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center. However, both of them shared the same rich history that can be dated to the year of 1888, when USGS initiated the National Streamgaging Program with training and gage installation on the Rio Grande River near Embudo, New Mexico.

Reading water level Laredo, TX 1963
G.E. Koberg, USGS hydrologist, examining a water-stage recorder which records the stage of a stock tank located twelve miles northwest of Laredo.  1963.


Texas Water Science Center (Until 2019)

Before June 2019, when Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center was established, there have been two separate water science centers: Oklahoma and Texas.

The history of water science in Texas began in 1898 with measurements of Colorado River at Austin, Texas. The Texas Water Science Center was founded in 1915 as the Texas District in Austin, Texas. By the 2019 merger with Oklahoma WSC, the Texas WSC had grown to nine offices located in Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, San Angelo, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls

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C.N. Gould, father of Oklahoma Geology
Part of a US Geological Survey outfit northwest of Lawton, Comanche County, Oklahoma Territory, 1901. Man in photo is C.N. Gould, father of Oklahoma Geology.

Oklahoma Water Science Center (Until 2019)

Charles Newton Gould (1868 - 1949) has always been considered as a father of geology in Oklahoma. He was commissioned by the Hydrographic Branch of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1903 to explore Oklahoma and Indian Territories and as a result of his exploration was publishing of the Geology and Water Resources of Oklahoma in 1905. 

In 1908 Gould founded Oklahoma Geological Survey, where he served as its director between 1908 - 1911 and then again 1924 - 1931.

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Banner image descriptions

  1. 1900 field camp.  USGS field camp during groundwater study in the Southern High Plains, ca 1900.  The city of Claude, TX is visible in the background.
  2. 1924 field vehicle.  Original 1924 caption reads: 'A Texas  summer thunderstorm brewing in the late afternoon. Shows K20 Special USGS 304; the type of roadway then common for travel in much of West Texas; a cattle guard and wire gate shows method used to keep fence taut where heavy king posts are not employed.'
  3. 1941 discharge measurement.  Field technicians taking a cableway discharge measurement in 1941 at USGS 0816100, Colorado River at Columbus. Corrugated metal streamgage shelter in cylindrical cement tower is visible next to the bridge.
  4. 1957 field vehicle.   Wallace D. Robbins, Engineering Technician, demonstrating bridge discharge measurement equipment in 1957 at the low-water crossing (Redbud Trail) on the Colorado River below Tom Miller Dam in Austin, TX.  Shows  truck-mounted current meter and 100-pound sounding weight.   Photo pre-dates the formation of Town Lake (now called Ladybird Lake).
  5. 1963 water level measurement.  G.E. Koberg, USGS hydrologist, examining a water-stage recorder which records the stage of a water impoundment located twelve miles northwest of Laredo.