WILLIAMSPORT — Did you see that daring feat of concentration and balance this weekend?
The one where Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope over a gorge near the Grand Canyon?
Well, the rope was made in Lycoming County.
The only thing standing between aerialist Nik Wallenda and certain death was a two-inch thick wire-rope made at Wirerope Works, Inc. in Williamsport.
It’s the same rope Wallenda used to walk across Niagara Falls last year and needless to say, folks in Williamsport are happy with how their product performed.
Millions watched from their homes over the weekend as Wallenda crossed a river gorge near the Grand Canyon.
Wallenda put one foot in front of the other, 1500 feet from the ground and stayed on the tightrope the whole way.
Wallenda’s life hung in the balance on a rope made at Wirerope Works.
At the plant on Maynard Street, engineer Kim Konyar showed off the two-inch thick rope made of wire designed specifically for Wallenda’s daredevil act.
“The strength is in the rope, integrity is the rope. So we just sat back, white knuckled the walk and cheered him on,” said Konyar, who is unofficially the Premier Wire Rope Design Engineer of the Western Hemisphere.
In fact, Wallenda used the same 2200 foot, 8 ton rope last year during his high wire act over Niagara Falls. The folks at Wirerope Works said the unique design helps keep Wallenda in the air.
“When he moves his feet on there, he slides his feet along, he wants that warm and fuzzy feeling and same consistency all the way along across the rope,” added Konyar.
The Wallenda tightrope was not the first big project ever undertaken by Wirerope Works. In 1986, the company made suspension cables for the Brooklyn Bridge.
Their handiwork is at Madison Square Garden, as well as in some major airports.
But the tightrope walks over Niagara Falls and the gorge were easily the most exciting projects so far.
“I sat on the edge of my chair and I held my breath the entire time he crossed the Grand Canyon,” said director of operations Norm Szamocki.
Its makers said the wire rope was heavy so it wouldn’t sway in the breeze and could hold up to 200 tons.
There were six strands with 49 wires each and a steel center with 49 wires as well.
That makes 343 wires in one rope.