Roorkee derives its name from Rurimadi Imran, the wife of a local Rajput chief.
During the 18th century, it came under the rule of Landhaura state, until the death of Gurjar king Raja Ramdayal in 1813.
Before 1840, the city was a tiny hamlet consisting of mud huts on the banks of the Solani river.
Digging work on the Upper Ganges Canal formally began in April 1842, under the aegis of a British officer Proby Cautley.
The canal was formally opened on 8 April 1854 and irrigated over 767,000 acres in 5,000 villages.
To look after the maintenance of canal the Canal Workshop and Iron Foundry were established in 1843 in the civil lines on the canal bank which is known as Irrigation workshop nowadays.
To train local youth in Civil Engineering work of Upper Ganges Canal, Civil Engineering School was established in 1845 which was the first Engineering College in India. Later this college was named as Thomason College of Civil Engineering.
The college was later upgraded to University of Roorkee in 1949 and on 21 September 2001, it was made one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, IIT Roorkee.