Monday, October 24, 2011

Surprising First Ride Over Niagra Falls

Would you believe that the first person ever to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel was a 63-year old woman? Strange but true. Her name was Annie Edson Taylor and she went over Niagra Falls on this date in 1901.

She was a failed (and itinerant) dance and music instructor who in her later years conceived of the stunt as a way to make some money.  Her barrel ride was successful. (She was relatively unscathed.) But she never made much money out of it, apparently.  Unlike Evel Knievel's famously unsuccessful jump of the fountains at Caesar's Palace, there was no film footage memorializing her stunt.  And while she was able to earn some money afterward as a paid speaker, that apparently dried up pretty quickly.  And then her barrel was stolen and she had to spend most of her remaining money hiring private detectives to find it. She ultimately lived for another 20 years, and died at the age of 82.

You can see a couple of black and white photos of her (and her barrel) HERE. Looks-wise, she may have been Evel Knievel's exact opposite.

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