Eric Sloane and the Howe Truss in Covered Bridges

Signed Eric Sloane pen and ink of the Howe Truss as used in covered bridges

An original Eric Sloane pen and ink illustration I have yet to locate in any publication in which Eric details the use of iron in William Howe’s covered bridge design. For some time in the first half on the 19th century, inventors, designers and outright schemers fell over themselves tweaking existing plans to claim a better design. Howe must have been one savvy guy – he patented his design in 1840 and, scant two years later, sold the rights to the design to one of his workers for $40,000. That provides some perspective on just how hot the speculative market was for covered bridge construction in mid-19th century America. In 2021 dollars, that $40,000 purchase would be equivalent to approximately $1,257,779. Note the saucy inscription in Sloane’s hand, lower left. Learn more about this most fascinating of American icons at