On the 24th October 1901, Annie Edson Taylor successfully rolled from Niagara Falls. The daredevil of yesteryear was not only the first person to accomplish this feat, but also the first woman, and in addition Taylor was 63 years old!
Though it may seem that Annie was an intrepid thrill seeker, her motive to roll over the Falls wasn’t for fun! In fact, her decision to do this was entirely down to wanting to earn a large sum of money to support her through her retirement. Prior to her barrel adventure, Annie’s income came from her employment as a teacher, where she traveled around the USA teaching dance, even opening her own studio. In an interview for the Detroit Free Press, Annie said, ‘I looked around for something that nobody had ever done before as a means to make some money… The idea of going over Niagara came to me in an instant.’
On the day of her barrel roll, Annie placed herself into the barrel, which had been custom-made with a comfortable mattress inside, complete with a safety harness attached. The wooden barrel, which was constructed of oak and iron, was pulled along by a rowing boat, before being set adrift. It took twenty minutes for the barrel to float down the river and be carried over Horseshoe Falls, and an extra hour for her to be cut out.
In 2011 Annie’s trip down the falls was turned into a Broadway musical called ‘Queen of the Mist’.