Between October 24, 1901 and June 2, 2017, 16 different people, including two women, intentionally tried to “beat” Niagara by going over the falls in various types of barrels or devices. With the exception of one, all of these daredevils went over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. The last daredevil, Kirk Jones went over the American Falls on June 2, 2017, seated in the middle of a giant rubber ball. His body was found floating in the Niagara River later in the day outside his torn-up barrel. Interestingly, at 40 years of age Jones previously jumped over the falls on October 20, 2003 from the edge of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. He was wearing only a jacket and a pair of jeans and miraculously survived. When rescued he told reporters he was trying to kill himself. A few days later he changed his story saying he was trying to be a daredevil. As I write this blog, Kirk Jones is the last person to try to intentionally, “beat” Niagara Falls. He is also the only person to do so by attempting the trip over the American Falls.
Two of these 16 daredevils went over the falls twice, while two others went over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls at the same time in the same barrel. Six of these people lost their lives in the attempt.
I’ve told you a little about the last daredevil, now here's something more about the first.
A retired school teacher from Bay City, Michigan, 63-year old Annie Edson Taylor, was the first person to get the barrel rolling. She went over the Falls successfully in a Kentucky oak barrel. She sustained only minor injuries and once rescued is quoted as saying, ”No one should ever do that again!” Her quest for fame and glory never materialized.
Like the barrels themselves, their reasons for doing so were all different. For some, it was for hope of instant fame or fortune, and for others simply a personal challenge.
Remember it is illegal to attempt stunts such as these at the falls and also the fines are very heavy (if you ever get a chance to pay them!)