Prior to 1848, the only way to cross from the U.S. side to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls was by boat. Even that journey could be tricky with the powerful flow of Niagara Falls and the class 6 white water rapids upriver in the Niagara Gorge. A bridge was to be built, but the problem was stringing a cable across the gorge. It was in January of that year that Theodore Hulett (bridge superintendent) suggested flying a kite across the gorge and offered a cash prize of $10 to the first person that could land their kite on the other side.
Homan Walsh, a 16-year old boy, was up to the challenge of flying a kite 800 feet across the gorge and succeeded. When the kite string was grabbed on the U.S side, engineers attached a heavier rope to the string to be pulled across the gorge until they eventually got the wire cable consisting of thirty-six strands of No.9 wire across the gorge. This enabled authorities to start construction of the first bridge over the Niagara Gorge. Construction of the bridge began almost immediately and was completed May 1849. This first suspension bridge served the public for six years and was then dismantled to make room for a newer and larger bridge.
Three bridges have spanned the gorge in this location of the course of history. The present-day Whirlpool Rapids Bridge is now a local commuter bridge for Nexus card holders. Six bridges now cross over the Niagara River from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake.