Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Old Lady First To Go Over Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls, Waterfalls, River, Canada
 Whenever I visit a new place, I take time to check out any interesting natural formations such as waterfalls.  I've seen small ones, large ones, even some in the middle of nowhere but I have seen the one that most people think about when talking about the United States.  

I admit to being impressed when I stopped through Niagara Falls.  I remembered standing there, half expecting someone in a barrel to bob by and tumble over the falls.

I knew it wouldn't happen but I also wondered when the first person crashed over the falls.  Why did it start? I also wondered why anyone would go over with one real potential ending being death since the close to four million cubic feet of water spills over the edge, each and every minute.  The drop of 167 feet is equal to a 16 story building.

The first person to successfully drop over the edge in a barrel was a 63 year old retired female teacher who was financially struggling. In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor padded an oaken barrel, she tested first by sending a cat over the falls encased in it before doing it herself.  Since the cat survived, she went for it and she suffered only a cut on her head. Unfortunately she didn't make much money and her manager took off with her barrel.

In 1911, one Bobby Leach, built himself a torpedo shaped barrel out of steel plates welded together.  Although he successfully completed the drop, he shattered both kneecaps and busted his jaw.  He had more success as the "First Man to go over the Falls" by touring the country until he killed himself when he slipped on an orange peel while on stage in 1926.

As far as I can tell, these two were the only ones who tried prior to 1920 when English barber, Charles Stephens made an attempt himself by using an anchor as ballast.  Unfortunately, the anchor fell out the bottom taking him with it and he died. 

Then in 1926, a stuntman decided to go over the falls, not with a barrel but with a 6 foot rubber and steel ball in the shape of a barrel.  He survived the fall, later selling pieces of his ball to tourists as a way of making money.  

Four years later, a Greek immigrant built a ten foot barrel that weight almost 2000 pounds.  He was certain this vessel would be indestructible and he'd survive.  He took his pet turtle with him, popped into the water and his barrel went over the falls.  Unfortunately, it took a while to get his barrel loose so by the time they found him, he'd died but his pet survived.

There have been 15 people who attempted going over the falls between 1901 and 1995 including one person who tried using a kayak and another who used a jet ski with a specially designed parachute that failed.  Neither of these two survived and there were three more who didn't make it.  One man tried it twice while a duo wanted to raise awareness against drug usage so their barrel had a message painted on the side.

Please note that it is illegal to go over Niagara Falls and if anyone does, they face heavy fines for it.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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