A Niagara first! Woman Plunges Over Falls In Barrel And Lives!
For the first time ever, someone has dared to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. And it was a woman “not a man” who was the first to accomplish it.
Anna Edson Taylor, a 43 year old schoolteacher from Michigan gambled on gaining quick fame and fortune with a barrel trip over the thundering Falls on October 24, 1901.
Her vessel was a large oak barrel, equipped with a 100-pound blacksmith’s anvil on the bottom to keep it floating upright. Padding was placed all around her, and sufficient air for the trip was pumped into the barrel via a bicycle pump before the lid was carefully screwed on with ordinary wood screws.
With her pet kitten inside the barrel with her, the tie rope was severed about 4:40 pm. The barrel rode through the upper rapids, and within minutes, Taylor passed over the 163 foot high Horseshoe Falls. The barrel disappeared from view into the swirling waters before bobbing to the surface and gradually floating to the Canadian shore, where it was stranded until rescuers could reach it.
Once released, Taylor emerged quite bruised and shocked, but alive.
Her attempt to “cash in” on the stunt was far from successful. She died in poverty, but for 10 years held the honour of being the only person to have ever gone over the Falls, until the first man attempted it in 1911. Taylor’s barrel is on display as part of the Daredevil Gallery at the Imax Theatre in Niagara Falls. Her story is also deftly captured in the IMAX movie “Niagara Falls: Legends & Daredevils”, on show at the IMAX Theatre.
Excerpts taken from Francis Petrie's “Historical Flashback”
Annie Edson Taylor posing with her barrel
Annie Edson Taylor info and photo courtesy of IMAX Theatre. Visit thier page for a discount admission coupon.