Daredevil Stunts at Niagara Falls

Daredevil Stunts at Niagara Falls

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Annie Edson Taylor a widowed school teacher from Michigan made history on October 24, 1901 being the first person to take the daring plunge over the picturesque yet treacherous Niagara Falls. Various people have taken on Niagara Falls and all it’s furry from trapeze artist to barrel jumper all seeking a degree of fulfillment, at what cost? That is the risk these daredevils are willing to take.

While there were many daredevil acts before Mrs Taylor’s bold accomplishment, none quite so renowned, for no one had previously endeavored to drive themselves over the falls. Though Carlisle Graham had announced a few months prior he would journey down Horseshoe Falls he did not go forth with his plans. Annie was strapped into a Kentucky oak barrel that was held together by seven steal rings and packed with padding, the barrel was 34 inches in diameter through the middle and four and a half feet long. The lid was screwed shut and Annie was towed out by a small boat to the mainstream and released at 4:05 pm, several news people were on hand, ready to deliver Annie’s fate to the world. The barrel streamed toward the Canadian side and over the Horseshoe Falls. Mrs Taylor was in the barrel for 17 minutes after her frightening tumble down Niagara Falls, until it was close enough to the Canadian shores to be hauled in. The top of the barrel was cut away. Annie emerged scratched and bruised, very stunned but satisfied, quoted to have said “No one ought ever do that again.” She did try to cash in on her accomplishment, for it is documented that it was one of her motives for such a precarious act, however she was far from victorious. In lieu of money, for 10 years she held the honor of being the only person to ever go over the falls. She died a pauper twenty years later, at the still disputed age of 83.

Not unlike Annie Taylor numerous people tried a variety of different stunts seeking fame and fortune for there dare devilish ways, many paying with their lives. One of the most notorious people to take to the tight rope was Jean Francois Gravelot or better known as “The Great Blondin”, he was branded as the most bold and entertaining daredevil of all time, he was infatuated with crossing over Niagara Falls.

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This was evident by the fact that he crossed over numerous times, always with a different theatric variation, he performed stunts such as carrying his manager Harry Colcord, trundling a wheel barrow, being blindfolded, sitting down midway while he made and ate an omelet, just to mention a few. While equally as talented but not as well recognized Signor Farini, William Leonard Hunt. He reproduced all of Blondin’s stunts and more, he managed to carry a washing machine out on the tight rope to wash a dozen handkerchiefs, he lowered a pale into the water nearly 200 feet below him to launder them with. While Farini managed to draw crowds larger than Blondin by his more audacious aerobatics, he was never acknowledged by the media. While there are numerous people that have attempted countless death-defying performances, none stick out quite as much as Jessie W Sharp a 28 year old skilled kayaker from Tennessee, he wanted to further his career in stunting so he took on the ferocious Horseshoe Falls. Jessie gave into his 3 year plans on June 5th 1990, he boarded a thirty six pound polyethylene kayak measuring twelve feet long. Sharp was so confident that he would travel the Falls safely he made dinner reservations at the Queenston Park Restaurant, where he had planned to dock. On that fateful day he brought with him a crew of 3 people to video tape his stunt, he did not wear any protective head gear, to insure his face being caught in the video, nor did he wear a lifejacket at the risk of being snagged underneath the Falls. Jessie’s ordeal was filmed and it would be the last time that anyone would see him, for his body was never recovered. Jessie met a brutal end, giving everyone a glimpse at the merciless force of Niagara Falls.

Many daredevils sacraficed there lives for a stunt that they deem important, their memory will live on in the history of Niagara Falls.
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