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November 5, 2017

The Challengers of Niagara Falls

There may be nothing more mystical in nature then those who actively court death seeking to defy it…many, many years ago, I visited a Niagara Falls museum that contained the history of people who had tried to go over the falls in a barrel or similar device and was captivated by the stories…the falls have a vertical drop of about 165 feet and many attempts have ended in failure, hence death…but on October 24th, 1901 a woman named Annie Taylor become the first person ever to conquer the falls in a barrel…and she did it at the age of 63…she climbed out after the drop battered and heavily bruised but she had done it…she expected fame and fortune but it was not to be…sadly, she wound up dying trying to scratch out a living doing various things…another attempt was made by a gentleman named Bobby Leach…he made his attempt in a barrel constructed of steel…he survived, but for his efforts he ended up with two broken kneecaps and a broken jaw as souvenirs…ironically, years later he slipped and died from complications of gangrene…there was a man who didn’t go over the falls; but the first man to swim the English Channel, Matthew Webb, tried to swim through the Niagara whirlpool rapids…most considered it suicidal, and were proven right when Webb didn’t make it…another Englishman named Charles Stephens had the novel idea of fitting his barrel with an anvil that he thought would provide necessary ballast…he tied himself to the anvil…after the barrel had gone over the falls, his crew found only his right arm in the barrel when they retrieved it…in 1930, a daredevil suffocated to death after his barrel became lodged behind the powerful falls…the barrel was stuck there for over 14 hours and the man ran out of air…recently, a man had the idea to ride a jet ski over the falls and then parachute to safety…unfortunately, the parachute didn’t work and the man fell to his death...another time, a man tried to go over the falls in a canoe…the canoe was found at the base of the falls, but the body of the man was never found…there have been other attempts…some successful, some not, but all extremely dangerous and all courted the grim reaper of death.