It was at about this time of the year in 1847 that a kite contest was held to help build the first bridge across the Niagara Gorge at Niagara. The reason for the contest was to get a 213 metre (700 foot) over the Whirlpool Rapids. There were no helicopters then and also the fast flowing water made it impossible to swim the cable across so organizers announced a contest and, “fly” the cable across.

The first person to get a kite from the American side to the Canadian side would receive a $10.00 prize. American teenager Homan Walsh won the prize when he flew his kite in the springtime of 1847 to Clifton (now Niagara Falls, Ontario) on the Canadian side. Attached to the kite was a lightweight rope. It was used to pull a heavier rope across the gorge. It pulled an even heavier rope, and so on until finally a steel cable was pulled across.

This was the first step in the building of the first bridge over the Niagara River, the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge which opened in 1848.

The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, which replaced this original bridge, opened in 1897.It is still in here today and serves as the designated bridge for Nexus users.

Attached is an unknown artist’s sketch of the kite flying contest.


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