On This Date- October 24th

Oct 24, 1901:
First barrel ride down Niagara Falls

On this day in 1901, a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

After her husband died in the Civil War, the New York-born Taylor moved all over the U. S. before settling in Bay City, Michigan, around 1898. In July 1901, while reading an article about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, she learned of the growing popularity of two enormous waterfalls located on the border of upstate New York and Canada. Strapped for cash and seeking fame, Taylor came up with the perfect attention-getting stunt: She would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Photograph of Annie Edson Taylor, the first pe...
Image via Wikipedia

Taylor was not the first person to attempt the plunge over the famous falls. In October 1829, Sam Patch, known as the Yankee Leaper, survived jumping down the 175-foot Horseshoe Falls of the Niagara River, on the Canadian side of the border. More than 70 years later, Taylor chose to take the ride on her birthday, October 24. (She claimed she was in her 40s, but genealogical records later showed she was 63.) With the help of two assistants, Taylor strapped herself into a leather harness inside an old wooden pickle barrel five feet high and three feet in diameter. With cushions lining the barrel to break her fall, Taylor was towed by a small boat into the middle of the fast-flowing Niagara River and cut loose.

Annie Edson Taylor preparing her historic trip...
Image via Wikipedia

Knocked violently from side to side by the rapids and then propelled over the edge of Horseshoe Falls, Taylor reached the shore alive, if a bit battered, around 20 minutes after her journey began. After a brief flurry of photo-ops and speaking engagements, Taylor’s fame cooled, and she was unable to make the fortune for which she had hoped. She did, however, inspire a number of copy-cat daredevils. Between 1901 and 1995, 15 people went over the falls; 10 of them survived. Among those who died were Jesse Sharp, who took the plunge in a kayak in 1990, and Robert Overcracker, who used a jet ski in 1995. No matter the method, going over Niagara Falls is illegal, and survivors face charges and stiff fines on either side of the border.

American Revolution
British naval fleet attacks Norfolk, Virginia, 1775
Automotive
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Civil War
Union General Don Carlos Buell is replaced, 1862
Cold War
Leftist Salvador Allende elected president of Chile, 1970
Crime
Marv Albert faces sentencing in sexual assault case, 1997
Disaster
Commuter trains collide in England, 1947
General Interest
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U.N. formally established, 1945
Burton buys Liz a diamond, 1969
The Concorde makes its final flight, 2003
Hollywood
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid opens, 1969
Literary
Raymond Chandler starts his last novel, 1958
Music
James Brown records breakthrough Live at the Apollo album, 1962
Old West
Western Union completes the first transcontinental telegraph line, 1861
Presidential
Truman declares war with Germany officially over, 1951
Sports
Toronto Blue Jays finally win a World Series for Canada, 1992
Vietnam War
U.S. president pledges support to South Vietnam, 1954
Manila Conference attendees issue “Declaration of Peace”, 1966
World War I
Battle of Caporetto , 1917
World War II
The United Nations is born, 1945
This Week in History, Oct 24 – Oct 30
Oct 24, 1901
First barrel ride down Niagara Falls
Oct 25, 1881
Pablo Picasso born
Oct 26, 1881
Shootout at the OK Corral
Oct 27, 1904
New York City subway opens
Oct 28, 1965
Gateway Arch completed
Oct 29, 1998
John Glenn returns to space
Oct 30, 1938
Welles scares nation
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