Niagara Falls is a site to behold. Consisting of the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls & the Canadian Falls, the majesty and the power is overwhelming. Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and the water that falls over the vertical drop of 165 feet plunges onto jagged rocks below. Awe inspiring, Niagara Falls has drawn tourists for centuries. Starting in the 1820s, as tourism picked up at Niagara Falls, a new breed of individual would begin to arrive at Niagara along with the site-seers, artists, environmentalists and honeymooners: the daredevil.
Several people hoped for instant fame performing daredevil stunts while at the Falls. In 1829, Sam Patch would dive into the Niagara River first at 85ft above the water and later that year at a height of 130ft. The Great Farini, Maria Spelterini and Jean Francois Gravelot, aka “The Great Blondin” would cross the Niagara River Gorge on a tightrope in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Frank M. Brown would swim across the Niagara River and Walter Campbell and his dog Jumbo would navigate the category 6 whirlpool rapids in the 80s. Also in the 1880s, Carlisle Graham, a barrel maker, successfully navigated the rapids and started the famous connection between Niagara Falls and barrels. They all wouldn’t survive. Niagara would claim almost as many lives as it did create overnight sensations. Even the survivors didn’t all become famous or wealthy. In fact, it is now a crime to “stunting without a license” and the fine is currently $10,000. This hasn’t prevented people from trying, however. The Niagara Falls daredevils were the original thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies.
While the first person wouldn’t go over the Horseshoe Falls (the American Falls are too rocky for anyone to survive) until 1901, it wouldn’t the first stunt to involve a trip over edge. In 1827, a boat full of animals were the first to go over the Falls and of the dozen animals aboard (some tied and caged to the boat) only a goose survived the fall. And not every survivor was a daredevil. Seven-year-old Roger Woodward survived a boating accident and was rescued by a Maid of the Mist boat. Two men survived going over the Falls in 2009 and 2012. This list focuses on the daredevils; those who deliberately went over the Falls with hopes of conquering the mighty Niagara. Perhaps it was lure of the ultimate challenge; surviving a trip over the Falls. There was no greater challenge; the ultimate man versus nature spectacular. Here is a rare list, a handful of people who attempted to conquer Niagara; some who succeed and others who died trying.
10. Annie Edson Taylor First Person to go over the Falls
63-year-old Annie Taylor went over Niagara Falls in a pickle barrel on her birthday, October 24, 1901. All that separated Edson Taylor from the roar of Niagara was the barrel, compressed air from a bicycle pump and her lucky pillow. After the screwed the barrel shut, with only a cork separating her from the river-water, Edson Taylor traveled towards the American shore (south of Goat Island). After 17 minutes, Annie was pulled from the barrel with little more than a cut on her head. The “Heroine of Niagara Falls” told the press, “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat…”, and found little monetary gain from her feat. She died penniless in 1921