Annie Taylor © wood engraving (ed. 40) image: 7 x 5 in. $100.00 (go to "Hi There" for purchase information)
On October 24, 1901, a 63 year old widow (who claimed it was her 43rd birthday that day) stood dressed in padded clothing next to a large pickle barrel. Annie Taylor was a former Michigan school teacher who had a plan to make some money on the lecture circuit after this day. She was hoping to be the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel lined with a mattress and survive. She climbed in and her friends screwed the end of the barrel on tight, then, using a bicycle pump, they added more air to the barrel and plugged the hole with a cork. They rowed her out into the river, put the barrel in the water to follow the current to the Canadian side and over the Horseshoe falls.

When Annie's barrel floated near enough to be reached it was pulled ashore and opened. Annie climbed out with only a gash on her head and she did indeed become the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive! She announced to the reporters on the shore, "No one ought ever do that again!".

Even though Annie did something remarkable, it seems her skills at public speaking did not match her survival skills and the plan to get rich failed. Then came worse news: Annie's manager took off with her barrel and what little money she had was used hiring a private detective to track the barrel and the manager down in Chicago (the barrel was eventually lost again). Annie died penniless at 83 and is buried in the Niagara Falls, New York cemetary in a section reserved for stunters.

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