Ellet’s brainstorming sessions with his men raised several ideas that could enable a line to be suspended across the gorge; these included firing cannonballs 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]
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