Back on this very day in 1901, a schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
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.
Knocked violently from side to side by the rapids and then propelled over the edge of Horseshoe Falls, Taylor reached the shore alive…20 minutes after her journey began.
But 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 to attempt the same challenge.