Stephen H. Long

Engineers who modify the fluvial landscape of Tennessee should feel strong ties to Stephen Harriman Long, who served as an army engineer at a time when the role of government in engineering projects had not yet been defined. In the course of his career, he designed roads, advised on the construction of railroads, created new types of bridges, revolutionized ship design, and modified rivers. Many of his projects altered the landscape of Tennessee.

In 1827 Long came to Tennessee to satisfy popular demand for improved navigation. That year the Tennessee General Assembly sanctioned five lotteries to fund engineering projects for river improvements in Middle Tennessee. Long's initial work involved improvements to the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, but his river work in the state continued into the 1840s.

In addition to his modifications of Tennessee rivers, Long mapped the topography of proposed railroad routes and built “Long's Road” connecting Knoxville and Bristol. He published an abundance of topographic data and geological observations, the bulk of it in U.S. Congress documents. Despite his publications and extensive landscape alteration, no assessment of Stephen H. Long's work in Tennessee has been undertaken.

Suggested Reading

Richard G. Wood, Stephen Harriman Long, 1789-1864: Army Engineer, Explorer, Inventor (1966)

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Stephen H. Long
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date August 14, 2022
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018