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. Unfortunately, he did not survive his stunt attempt. 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. 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 their attempts.
63-year old Annie Edson Taylor, a retired school teacher from Bay City, Michigan, 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.
It is illegal to attempt stunts at the Falls and aside from the obvious risks, there are heavy fines.