He received 15 patents, 10 for improvements in the Bessemer process, which he purchased the rights to in 1863 and brought to the United States. He soon designed and built Bessemer plants in Troy, New York, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He planned or was consulted on a dozen others.
He chaired the first meeting of the founders of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in the offices of the American Machinist on 16 February 1880, and is credited for establishing the intellectual boundaries of the mechanical engineering profession and ASME. He was born on 20 July 1832, in Lakeville, Connecticut and attended Brown University. In 1857, the two visited Britain and France and compiled a report for the presidents of American railroads, The Permanent Way. In 1860, the two traveled together on the maiden voyage of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Eastern.
Holley's most famous book, Armor, followed a visit he made to Britain in 1863 when he again met Zerah Colburn. In 1867 David Van Nostrand published his American and European Railway Practice in the Economical Generation of Steam. He chaired the first meeting of the founders of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in the offices of the American Machinist on 16 February 1880.
He died in Brooklyn, New York on 29 January 1882. The Holley medal is given out by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in his honor.