Business and Labor

Everett Horton Goes Fishing for a Fortune

Everett Horton was a Bristol, Conn., crinoline hoop-maker who liked to go fishing, even on Sunday. He had a problem, though. The Puritanical village condemned the practice.bristo2

Fishing poles aren’t easy to hide, so Horton invented a pole of telescoping steel tubes. On March 8, 1887, he received a patent for his fishing pole.

In 1888, Horton walked into a bank and asked to see the manager. The bank manager wasn’t pleased to see him pull his telescoping pole out of his trouser leg. He asked him why he hid a fishing pole in his pants.

“So you can sneak off fishing whenever you like, even on Sunday,” said Horton. He promised the invention would make them both rich. It did.

Horton established the Horton Manufacturing Co. and moved into a three-story brick building on North Main Street. By 1907, the company employed 100 workmen year-round making the famous Bristol steel rods.

Fishing enthusiasts condemn them as horrible things, heavy and inflexible, but they were cheap and popular.  By the turn of the century they were the most popular rod in the United States. They sold well into the 1930s, when the company made a range of household items.

Long before that, Everett Horton had sold his interest in the company.   The rods still sell on eBay and at flea markets. The company’s advertisements – created by such well-known illustrators as N.C. Wyethwere printed as art prints. Today. collectors prize them.


With thanks to Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection by George Black. This story was updated in 2022.

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