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The First Known Person To Survive A Trip Over The Falls Was…

Annie Taylor set up an autograph stand to cash in on her daredevil fete (jamasca66@flickr)

It happened on this date in 1901 – schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Her husband died in the Civil War, she was strapped for cash, and while reading an article about the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, she came up with an idea for a stunt she thought would not only bring her fame, but riches as well. So she decided to do it on her birthday, October 24. She claimed she was in her 40s, but later it was revealed she was 63.

With the help of two assistants, she strapped herself into a leather harness inside an old wooden pickle barrel, five feet high and three feet around. She lined it with cushions and then was towed by a small boat into the middle of the river and cut loose.

She was knocked side to side by the rapids and then finally over the edge of the Horseshoe Falls. She somehow survived and made it to shore about 20 minutes later. There were a bunch of picture sessions and speaking engagements, but Annie never did make the fortune she thought she would.

Since then, 15 people have tried various stunts, including one guy in a kayak and another who used a jet ski. Both of them died, but 10 have survived. In case you’re thinking about it – it’s illegal, and if you do survive, you face some stiff fines on both sides of the border.

Amazingly, four people survived a trip over the falls without any protection.

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