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 the bridge site to launch

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PostSubject: the bridge site to launch   Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:48 am

Ellet's brainstorming sessions with his men raised several ideas that could enable a line to be suspended across the gorge; these included firing cannon balls with the line attached, towing it across the river with a steamer, and tying it to a rocket that would then be launched across the gorge. Ultimately the bridge engineer chose an idea inspired by Benjamin Franklin's experiment with a kite.[27] It was similar to 15th century inventor Leonardo da Vinci's plan to span a gap.[28] Ellet also took the opportunity to generate publicity for his project. Organizing a kite-flying contest, he offered $5[nb 6] to any boy who flew a kite across the gorge and secured the kite string to the other side.[23] Youths from nearby towns flocked in to participate. Unlike the other boys who flew their kites from the United States side of the gorge, 16-year-old Homan Walsh[nb 7] crossed the river by a ferry upstream and walked to the Canadian side of the bridge site to launch his kite. He almost succeeded on his first attempt; his kite flew across but crashed just short of the shore. After resting several days at a friend's house, Walsh finally got his kite across the gorge and secured its line to a tree.[30]
A basket made of iron bars sit among artefacts, such as plaques, portrait collages, and cannon.
The basket, in which Charles Ellet crossed the Niagara Gorge, is on display at the Buffalo Historical Society.

Charles Ellet and his team tied a heavier line to the kite string and pulled the joined lines across. They pulled successive heavier and stronger lines across until the final bridge cable—7⁄8 inches (2.2 cm) thick—was hanging across the gorge. The cable was suspended between two wooden towers 40 feet (12 m) feet tall, and it was attached to an iron basket. Ellet planned to use this system as a basket ferry to shuttle workers and materials across the gorge, saving time that would otherwise have been spent on land and ferry travel.[31] Through media coverage and word-of-mouth, many people knew of Ellet's efforts and flocked to the site to watch the construction. On March 13, 1848, the system was completed, and the team planned to test it by pulling the empty basket across. They hit a snag when the basket kept getting stuck halfway and could not move ahead



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