In 1874, Eads Bridge became the longest bridge in the world and the first to be constructed of steel.
A massive technological innovation, it opened up a new era of large scale steel constrution. The project almost failed multiple times as finances repeatedly dried up. However, the entrepreneurial grit and determination of Andrew Carnegie continued to bring in much needed investor capital at critical moments. After seven years the bridge was complete.
And yet, people were skeptical.
Eads bridge was longer than any prior bridge and it was made of a new material. The last hurdle was people’s confidence.
For this, Carnegie used an elephant.
At the time, people believed that elephants had keen instincts and would never walk across an unstable bridge. Playing into this belief, Carnegie walked a elephant straight across the bridge proving the bridge’s stability.
At the end of the day, when the technical and entrepreneurial hurdles are cleared — one last hurdle remains: people’s trust and willingness to use the new technology.
It’s always that way with new technology.
Andrew Carnegie used an elephant.