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  • Jen Booton

Badassery: Barrel Rolls Off Niagara

Each week we highlight badasses throughout history doing the unthinkable in celebration of human potential! This Week: Annie Edson Taylor, who sent it over Niagara Falls in a barrel!



In October 1901, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive! She was 63 years old and a former teacher. According to History.com, which cites newspaper accounts the following day, her wooden barrel was “twirled and buffeted” in the rapids but escaped serious contact with rocks before plunging over Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border.


The 167-foot Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the three waterfalls that collectively comprise Niagara Falls. A whopping 90% of the Niagara River flows over Horseshoe Falls (after diversions for hydropower generation). Miraculously, Taylor emerged from the barrel without a single broken bone, though she did suffer a small scalp wound and what the papers referred to as a “slight” concussion.


Unfortunately, it was revealed after her death years later in 1921, that she had been taken advantage of by a promoter who encouraged her to do the stunt. She had initially agreed to the stunt to raise money to support her mother, which a promoter promised would be put up by local businesses eager to boost tourism, whether she survived or not. She survived, but the promoter ran off with the proceeds and the barrel, which he ultimately sold to a Chicago department store.

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