Homan Walsh
Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 12:17PM
Oakwood Cemetery Association

Homan Walsh - (March 24, 1831 - March 8, 1899), helped advance the art of kite flying to a whole new level back in 1848. As a 16 year old boy, he opened a new and cheaper avenue for trade and commerce between the United States and Canada at Niagara Falls.

The area was just beginning to become the tourist mecca it is now. With the increase of traffic through the area, a bridge would be a natural accessory to allow the flow of people and cargo between the two countries. The Niagara Gorge is 800 feet across and up to 200 feet deep with the Lower Niagara River flowing on the border. A boat ferried traffic at the base of the falls where the water is calmer, but at it's narrowest, the Niagara River has Class 6 rapids. This all presents problems stringing a cable across the gorge. Shooting a gun with a line attached was out of the question. Obviously there were no helicopters in the 1800's, so how do you get the cable across the gorge?

Theodore Hulett, (bridge superintendent and later Judge) suggested flying a kite across the gorge and offering a cash prize of $10 to the first person that could land their kite on the other side. 16 year old Homan took the challenge. On January 30, 1848, he won! He flew his kite from the Canadian side over to the American to take advantage of the easterly winds. When the string was grabbed, engineers then attached a rope to the string, and a larger rope to the previous, until they got the wire cable across the gorge. 

Homan spent most of his life in Nebraska but asked to be buried in his hometown of Niagara Falls, NY in Oakwood Cemetery (Niagara Falls, New York).

 1848   

Article originally appeared on Oakwood Cemetery | Niagara Falls, NY | Niagara's History is at Oakwood (http://myoakwoodcemetery.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.