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Boy’s Kite Helps Build Niagara Bridge


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • narrow: close together
  • roar: to make a loud sound or wild movement
  • advantage: a better chance at succeeding
  • ferry: a boat that transports people between certain points
  • rapids: water that moves very quickly
  • retrieve: to get back again
  • suspension bridge: a roadway that hangs over something such as a river; each end is connected to a tower with cables.

Boy’s Kite Helps Build Niagara Bridge

In 1848, a boy from New York state entered a kite-flying contest. The challenge was to fly a kite straight across the Niagara River at the narrowest point between the US and Canada. Engineers needed a rope, wire, or string from one side to the other before a bridge above the roaring rapids. A large group of kids on both sides of the Falls accepted the challenge. Homan Walsh was American, but he knew that the kids on the Canadian side had an advantage because of the wind direction. Walsh took a ferry to the Canadian side, just below the Falls, and walked until he got to the right above the Whirlpool Rapids. He waited until the winds were just right and then flew his kite across the water. Though his first attempt ended in failure, he retrieved and repaired his kite, and returned to Canada several days later to try again. On his , Walsh’s kite string made it safely across to the US side. The fifteen-year-old boy received a cash prize for giving engineers exactly what they needed to begin construction on the first suspension bridge across .

Comprehension Questions

  1. When and where was the contest held?
  2. What was the purpose of the contest?
  3. Who was the winner, and what did the winner win?

Discussion Questions: Have you ever won a contest or race? What did you do to come in first place? If you have never won a contest, discuss contests that you have entered.

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