When you think of Victorian daredevils, the name Annie Edson Taylor doesn”t usually ring a bell, but it should. Taylor was a rare breed of daredevil who got into the game not for the thrills, but because she was trying to secure a future for herself in the uncertain world of Industrial Revolution America.
Taylor never had it easy. As a child, she was one of eight siblings. Her father passed away when she was young. Undeterred by his loss, Taylor began studying to become a teacher as soon as she was old enough.
Taylor eventually concluded that in order to avoid the poor house or the streets, she needed to do something dramatic to secure her fortunes. In 1901, she had an idea: she would perform a massive daredevil stunt by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Two days after the test, it was Taylor”s turn to go over the falls.
The barrel Taylor rode in was around 4.5 feet high and 3 feet wide. The barrel”s inside was padded to avoid blunt force trauma upon landing.
Suddenly, there she was! Taylor was briefly knocked unconscious when the barrel went over the drop, but she survived with nothing more than a small gash on her forehead.
Needless to say, Taylor became an overnight sensation.
However, just as things looked like they were starting to go Taylor”s way, her agent immediately betrayed her. Russell stole the barrel Taylor used to go over the falls shortly after her stunt.
Taylor tried to reclaim her fame over the next few years. She went over the Cararact Falls in 1906, but no one paid much attention this time around.
In a final effort to stave off poverty, Taylor set up a souvenir shop in Niagara Falls. She spent the final years of her life signing autographs, posing for photos with tourists, and selling replica barrels.
(via Messy Nessy Chic)
I think we can all identify with Taylor and her struggle for a secure future. No one is quite sure what happened to Russell, but hopefully he got what was coming to him after swindling Taylor out of her earnings. Regardless, Taylor will go down in the history books as the first daredevil to tackle Niagara Falls.