Everett Horton Patents the Telescoping Fishing Rod (1887)

In puritanical rural Connecticut, fishing on Sunday was very nearly a mortal sin.  But Everett Horton, a hoop maker at a Bristol crinoline undergarment factory, wanted badly to fish on Sunday.  In order to slip unnoticed out of town and to the stream, he invented a telescoping fishing rod.  On March 8, 1887, he received a patent for his invention—US Patent 359153 A—and the rest is history.

1927 ad for Everett Horton’s Telescoping Fishing Rod

Horton’s patent application doesn’t mention that his purpose was to dupe his church-going neighbors.  Rather, it was to “produce a light and compact rod of superior convenience, elasticity, and durability, and one in which the line is protected against entanglement throughout the length of the rod.”  Unlike typical fishing rods, on which the exposed line is guided through rings mounted at intervals along the rod, Horton’s rod had hollow tubes that carried the line inside, protected from tangling.  Every angler of modest skill (like me) has experienced the recurring frustration of tangled lines.

Reportedly, Horton walked into a bank in Bristol the next year and asked to see the manager.  In the meeting, Horton produced the fishing rod from his pants leg, to the manager’s alarm.  When asked why he had made such a thing, Horton replied, “So you can sneak off fishing whenever you like, even on Sunday.”

He got the needed loan and went on to found the Horton Manufacturing Company.  And to make a fortune.  The fishing rod was instantly popular and by 1900 the Bristol Steel Rod was the most popular fishing rod in the United States.  The rod was well-made and performed its intended function—to hide an angler’s intention and keep the line straight—but angling purists didn’t like it (of course).  Nonetheless, Horton kept manufacturing his rods, eventually expanding the company into a producer of diverse metal household items.

The Pocket-Fisherman had to have an inspiration, and maybe we’ve just found it.

References:

Anctil, Philip.  (Nothing Up Your Sleeve) It May Be A Bristol Steel Rod.  Fishing Talks.  Available at:    http://www.fishingtalks.com/nothing-up-your-sleeve-it-may-be-a-bristol-steel-rod-569.html.  Accessed March 7, 2017.

New England Historical Society.  Everett Horton Goes Fishing for a Fortune.  Available at:  http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/everett-horton-goes-fishing-fortune/.  Accessed March 7, 2017.

U.S. Patent Office.  Patent 359153 A.  Available at:  https://www.google.com/patents/US359153.  Accessed March 7, 2017.

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February 2
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National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
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February 7
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February 8
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February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
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February 15
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February 16
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February 16
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February 17
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February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
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February 21
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February 22
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February 24
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February 25
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February 26
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February 27
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February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
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