Some people don’t get the credit they deserve for their bold choices and brave actions. Sometimes they don’t want any credit and do a good deed just for the sake of doing it. Other times though, when a person is about to make history, I believe they deserve some credit. That is the case for 63-year-old Annie Edson Taylor. She was a fragile Victorian daredevil to say the least. She was the first woman to take a barrel ride down Niagara Falls, and survive to tell the world her story. You may have heard about her and her name, but I am sure you don’t know the powerful story that lead her to the 175 foot drop down the popular waterfall. Let’s talk a walk together down history lane to learn more about the poor credited Annie Taylor.
Annie, unfortunately didn’t have a very pleasant life. It seemed like life was out to get her a lot of times. Luck just wasn’t on her side. She grew up in a family of 8 kids. She lost her father at a very young age. She decided to push forward and went to school to be a teacher. Annie fell in love and got married. Unfortunately tragedy struck again when her only child died followed by her husband shortly after. But again, she wasn’t going to give up.
Due to her drastic losses, she was just trying to get by as a widow. She moved from city to city and worked at a multitude of different jobs. She knew, in order to avoid complete poverty, that she needed to do something drastic to change her life.
She had read in the news about crazy dare devils and their mind-blowing stunts. She then decided that was her calling. She pitched her crazy idea to an agent named Frank Russell. They went to Niagara Falls to try to convince the officials that she should do this stunt.
Because a few other daredevils have attempted this nutty stunt and didn’t survive, Annie had to prove herself to the officials. In order to do so, she wanted to do a test run with a cat. Miraculously, the cat survived the fall with only a few minor head injuries.
Now, it was Annie’s turn. As she hoped, according to the New York Times, there were thousands of people at the bottom of the falls there to witness the event. There was a lot of skepticism that she would even survive. So much so that even her agent, Frank, was told if she didn’t survive he would be prosecuted in her death.
The task of finding people to push the 200lb barrel out into the waters delayed the event. But eventually Annie was in position in her 1.4 by 1 meter barrel. It was weighed down by a 200lb steel anvil to keep the barrel standing upright. And just like that she was off, descending down the massive drop, possibly a suicide attempt.
A dreadful 20 minutes after the fall, the barrel was seen bobbing in the water. Annie had miraculously survived the plunge uninjured, except for a small gash on her head. She was knocked unconscious after the drop but walked herself safely back to the river bank. She is quoted telling reporters ‘I prayed every second I was in the barrel except for a few seconds after the fall when I went unconscious. Nobody ought ever to do that again. 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’
Unfortunately, for Annie, her bad luck found her again. Her barrel was immediately stolen by her agent Frank and he traveled and lied to people telling them the woman who completed the stunt was half of Annie’s age. Annie spent the rest of her money hiring private detectives to find the barrel, but unfortunately it was never discovered.
Annie, finished her heroic life by posing for post cards at Niagara Falls, not the goal she had in mind. She did attempt to do the Cararact Falls, and write a book about the experience. But unfortunately for her, the footage was lost and her proof was no longer valid. I think it is safe to say that Annie deserves more than she was ever given credit for.