On this day (October 24th) in 1901 Annie (Edson) Taylor became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and live.
Annie was born on October 24, 1838 in Auburn, NY. She married David Taylor while training to be a teacher. They had a son who died in infancy and her husband died soon after. Annie ended up in Bay City, Michigan where she opened a dance studio. Later she moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1900 to teach music.
Annie wanted to go over Niagara Falls to get enough money to retire on. She had a barrel made of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. On her 63rd birthday, she climbed into the barrel and she had friends screw on the top and pump air into the barrel. The barrel went over the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian site of the falls. Annie’s was in the river less than twenty minutes, but it was some time before the barrel was actually opened. She only had suffered a small gash to her head.
Later Annie told the press that: “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.”
Annie spent her final years posing for photographs with tourists at a souvenir stand. She never did get the amount of money that she expected.
Annie Taylor died on April 29, 1921, aged 82, at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Galls.. See her tombstone on Find A Grave.
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