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Annie Taylor: the Victorian daredevil is the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel

Ian Harvey

Annie Taylor was one of eight children; unfortunately, her father died when she was only 12-years-old.

Later in life she met her husband while studying, they had one child but it he died in infancy, it wasn’t long after that, that her husband died.

Her life was a hard one, but this 63-year-yound widow would not let it beat her.

Annie Taylor posing next to her barrel Photo Credit

Annie Taylor posing next to her barrel Photo Credit

She got the bright idea to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, this idea stemmed from wanting to secure her financial future.

Her barrel was made from oak and iron and had a mattress lining the inside.

1837 woodcut of Falls, from États Unis d’Amérique by Roux de Rochelle. Photo Credit

1837 woodcut of Falls, from États Unis d’Amérique by Roux de Rochelle. Photo Credit

The fall was delayed several times, mostly because people didn’t want to participate in a suicide.

Two days before Taylor went over, the people loaded a cat into the barrel and tested it at Horseshoe Falls, the cat survived and later took photographs with Taylor.

Annie Edson Taylor after her trip over Niagara Falls leaver her barrel. Photo Credit

Annie Edson Taylor after her trip over Niagara Falls leaver her barrel. Photo Credit

On her 63rd birthday on October 24, 1901, Taylor entered the barrel with her lucky heart-shaped pillow.

After the lid was secured, the people used a tire pump to compress the air inside, plugging the hole with a cork and then putting her into the water near the American shore.

She rode the currents which took her over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the site which was always used for the daredevil acts.

Annie Edson Taylor preparing her historic trip over Niagara Falls. Photo Credit

Annie Edson Taylor preparing her historic trip over Niagara Falls. Photo Credit

The entire thing only took 20 seconds but the opening of the barrel took some time, she was alive and almost uninjured except for a small gash on her head. Later Annie told the press:

 “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat… I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.”

She made a little money doing interviews after her feat but once again bad luck struck her.

Her manager, Frank M. Russell, took her barrel and ran, most of her savings were used hiring private investigators to find it.

Eventually, the barrel was located but shortly after was once again taken and never seen again.

“The Queen of the Mist” posing with her barrel and cat. Photo Credit

“The Queen of the Mist” posing with her barrel and cat. Photo Credit

Her final years were spent taking photographs with tourists, trying to make money from the New York Stock Exchange.

Here is another “daredevil” story from us: The Madness of the Daredevils of Niagara Falls

She talked about doing a second plunge over the Cataract Falls in 1906, she then tried writing novels. She then tried to reconstruct her fall on film, worked as a clairvoyant and eventually started providing magnetic therapeutic treatments to local residents.