Skip to main content

William Howe

Otis H. Cooley, 1820 - 1860
William Howe, 12 May 1803 - 19 Sept 1852
c. 1850
Image: 5.5 x 4.3 cm (2 3/16 x 1 11/16")
Plate [sight]: 6.2 x 5 cm (2 7/16 x 1 15/16")
Case Open: 7.5 x 12.3 x 0.6 cm (2 15/16 x 4 13/16 x 1/4")
Case Closed: 7.5 x 6.2 x 1.2 cm (2 15/16 x 2 7/16 x 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
In the summer of 1840, farmer-turned-inventor William Howe was awarded two patents for what became known as the Howe truss bridge. One of the mid-nineteenth century's most important bridge designs, it was the first to combine a diagonal wooden truss structure with vertical iron ties. In 1841 the Western Railroad commissioned Howe to build a large bridge across the Connecticut River utilizing his patented truss design. This span proved so successful that Howe spent the remainder of his life constructing similar bridges throughout the country and earning a fortune in royalties by selling the rights to his patents.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection