The Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel

April 15, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel, for many years the world's largest circulating water tunnel, was under construction when this photo was taken in 1948. This view looks northeast across the University Park campus. A two-lane North Atherton Street is just behind the tunnel, and Pattee Library is peeking through the trees on the horizon.

The water tunnel was an addition to the Ordnance Research Lab (today the Applied Research Lab), founded at Penn State at the end of the Second World War in cooperation with the U.S. Navy to address scientific and technical issues related to underwater weaponry, and to serve as a resource for faculty research in such fields as acoustics.

A 2,000 h.p. motor drove water through the tunnel's test section at 60 feet per second, enabling researchers to observe effects on the shapes of ship hulls, torpedoes, and other hardware.

The water tunnel was named in memory of Navy Lt. (j.g.) W. Garfield Thomas '38, one of the first Penn State alumni to give his life during the war.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 11, 2015