Nearly 150 years ago, William Hamilton Merritt was the man who dreamed of building the first bridge over the Niagara River. He was the same man who had planned and built the first Welland Canal making it possible for shipping to circumvent the Falls at Niagara.
In 1846, permission was received from the Governments of Upper Canada and the State of New York for the formation of two companies with the ability to construct a bridge at or near the Falls. They were the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company of Canada and the International Bridge Company of New York. Both companies would build and own the bridge jointly.
In the Fall of 1847, the bridge companies commissioned Charles Ellet Jr. to construct a bridge at a site selected along the Niagara River. This site was located along the Niagara Gorge above the beginning of the Whirlpool Rapids and was the narrowest point from shoreline to shoreline. This bridge would connect the site of what would become the Village of Elgin (now Niagara Falls).
Biography and details of Ellet's design for the first suspension bridge over Niagara Falls.