Going over Niagara Falls is not only dangerous but illegal, but there was a time over 120 years ago that one woman had the courage and confidence to not only go over the falls in a barrel, but to survive. Born in Auburn, New York in 1838, Annie Edson Taylor was one of eight children who lost their father back in 1850. As an adult, she eventually earned an honors degree to become a schoolteacher and after marrying and losing both a child and her husband, she ended up moving to Bay City, Michigan.

When she moved to Michigan, she had hopes to become a dance instructor, since there were no dance schools in Bay City at that time, Taylor opened her own. She moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1900 to teach music, but soon ran into money problems. In an attempt to make more money, she masked her age and came up with an idea she thought would make her rich.

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On October 24, 1901, her 63rd birthday, she was the first person to get in a barrel and plummet over the falls and survive. After being found, Taylor was conscious and except for a small gash on her head, was not harmed seriously in the stunt. The trip itself took less than twenty minutes, which she later commented on to the press:

If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat... I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.

Colorized Pictures of Early Kalamazoo That Will Blow Your Mind


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