Compass

Oct. 24, 1901: First barrel ride over Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls had been a tourist destination for decades before 1901, but it wasn’t until Oct. 24 of that year that the first person decided to ride a barrel over the falls.

Former schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor made the plunge on her 63rd birthday, hoping for fame and fortune. Taylor, whose husband had died in the Civil War, had traveled around the country taking various jobs before eventually settling on the barrel scheme as a way to avoid poverty in her old age.

She tested her barrel with a cat a few days before her trip. The cat lived, with minor cuts. On the big day, she had her barrel towed to the middle of the river and climbed inside with straps and a cushion. The air inside the barrel was compressed using a bike pump, and the hole was sealed with a plug. Twenty minutes later, her barrel was found at the bottom of the falls with her unscathed inside.

She achieved some minor celebrity but never the wealth she was hoping for. She spent most of her life signing autographs, working on a novel and talking about a second plunge.

Although Taylor was not the first person to survive a plunge over the falls – that honor goes to Sam Patch, who simply jumped over the edge in 1829 and lived – she was the first to turn it into a media circus with her barrel. Niagara daredevilry has been a popular stunt since then. From 1901 to 1995, 15 people went over the edge, and 10 of them survived. Most recently, Nic Wallenda walked a tightrope across the falls in early 2012.

Last year, about 8.7 million people visited the falls, but none of them went over the edge. Taking the plunge is now highly illegal, and survivors face stiff fines.

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Mercy pleas for Indonesia death row inmates as families arrive
    Mercy pleas for Indonesia death row inmates as families arrive

    Families of foreign drug convicts set to be hauled before the firing squad in Indonesia issued desperate mercy pleas on Saturday, as France warned of "diplomatic consequences" if one of its nationals is executed. Consular officials and relatives were arriving at a town near Nusakambangan, the high-security prison island where Indonesian executions are carried out, and where all of the death row convicts are now congregated. The foreigners -- two from Australia, one each from Brazil, France …

  • United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot
    United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft, and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington's next phase in its Asia "pivot", deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia "pivot" has already seen U.S. Marines rotating through the …

  • China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit
    China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit

    China's creation of new island footholds in contested seas will hover over a Southeast Asian summit that has become an annual test of the region's nerve in standing up to its massive neighbour. The South China Sea hot potato drops this year into Malaysia's lap as the rotating chair of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and host of Monday's meeting. ASEAN states Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic South China Sea, but Beijing …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options