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Stephen Harriman Long was born in 1784 in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Long graduated from Dartmouth College in 1809 and entered the Army as a Lieutenant of Engineers in 1814. One of his early patents was in 1826 for his work on steam locomotives and many of his subsequent patents were for railroad design. In 1827 he was assigned by the War Department to the position of Consulting Engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In that position he promoted the adaptation of wooden bridges to railroad use and formulated a series of tables for determining curves and grades.
Brevet-Colonel Long's first bridge patent was issued in 1830. His truss design was a series of wood in an "X" shaped pattern. He was more interested in promoting his patents, not building the bridges. The Long truss was successful for ten years until William Howe designed a truss that was similar to Long's truss except he replaced the vertical timbers with metal rods that could be tightened to strengthen the bridge. Long claimed patent infringement by Howe but failed to prove his case. He died in 1864 at the age of 79.
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