- Annie Edson Taylor
Annie Edson Taylor (
October 24? 1838 – April 29 1921) became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Fallsin a barrelon 24 October, 1901. A schoolteacher by trade (she had received an honors degree in a four-year training course), she spent most of her working years in between jobs and locales, her net worth having been wiped out due to various disasters twice. She also became a certified dancinginstructor, although she found fewer students as she grew older. Desiring fame & fortune to see her way through her later years, she decided she would be the first person to ride Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Taylor used a custom made barrel for her trip, constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. [ Parish, Charles Carlin, "Queen of the Mist:The Story of Annie Edson Taylor, First Person Ever To Go Over Niagara Falls and Survive" (Empire State Books, Interlaken NY, 1987, ISBN 0-932334-89-X), pgs.47.] Several delays occurred in the launching of the barrel, particularly because no one wanted to be a part of a potential suicide. Previous to Taylor's own attempt, on October 19th a domestic cat named Iagara was sent over the Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to test its strength. Contrary to rumours at the time, the cat survived the plunge unharmed and later was posed with Taylor in photographs. [ Parish, Charles Carlin, "Queen of the Mist:The Story of Annie Edson Taylor, First Person Ever To Go Over Niagara Falls and Survive" (Empire State Books, Interlaken NY, 1987, ISBN 0-932334-89-X), pgs.55.] Finally on 24 October 1901, the barrel was put over the side of a rowboat, and Annie climbed in, along with her lucky heart-shaped pillow. After screwing down the lid, friends used a bicycle tire pump to compress the air in the barrel. The hole used for this was plugged with a cork, and Taylor was set adrift near the American shore, south of Goat Island.
Niagara Rivercurrents carried the barrel toward the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, which has since been the site for all daredevil stunting at Niagara Falls. Rescuers reached her barrel shortly after the plunge, and Annie was discovered to be alive and relatively uninjured, save for a small gash on her head. The trip itself took less than twenty minutes, but it was some time before the barrel was actually opened.
After the journey, Annie stated to the press:
She briefly earned money speaking about her experience, but was never able to build substantial wealth. Soon after the plunge, Annie's manager decamped with her barrel, and most of her savings were used towards private detectives hired to trace the barrel (it was eventually found in
Chicago, only to permanently disappear some time later). She spent her final years posing for photographs with tourists at her souvenir stand, attempted to gain financial support from the New York Stock Exchange, briefly talked about taking a second plunge over the cataracts in 1906, attempted to write a novel, re-construct her 1901 plunge on film (which was never seen) and worked as a clairvoyantand provided magnetic therapeutic treatments to local residents.
Annie Taylor died on
29 April 1921, aged 83, at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York and is buried in the "Stunters Section" of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.
Pop culture references
Annie Taylor (and her lucky
pillow) are mentioned as a legend of the Nickelodeon series " Legends of the Hidden Temple". The heart-shaped pillow (actually a replication) is an item that the contestants must retrieve from the labyrinth.
Singer Casey Baker wrote a song entitled "Daredevil" about Annie Taylor's trip over the falls.
The band The Lives of Famous Men also wrote a song about Annie Taylor and her famous stunt titled "Annie Taylor," the opening track merging with the title of their new EP, "Modern Love, The Wooden Vehicle."
An actor portraying Annie Taylor appears in the IMAX film . [http://www.imaxniagara.com/IMAX-theater/the-movie.cfm]
Several poems have been written about Annie Taylor, including K.M. Heideman's [http://www.niagarapoetry.ca/Heideman.htm "Woman in a Barrel, About To Go Over Niagara Falls"] , John Joseph O'Regan's [http://www.niagarapoetry.ca/oregan.htm "Queen of the Mist"] , P.M. Reynolds' [http://www.niagarapoetry.ca/reynolds.htm "Mrs. Anna Edson Taylor, Goddess of Water"] and Joan Murray's book-length poem "Queen of the Mist".
* "Women of Bay County", Joan Totten Musinski Rezmer,editor, Bay County Historical Society: Bay City, Michigan, 1980.
*"Queen of the Mist: The Forgotten Heroine of Niagara", Joan Murray. Beacon Press, 1999
* "Queen of the Mist", experimental documentary/poetry video by Rohesia Hamilton Metcalfe - based on the book of poems by Joan Murray and made in collaboration with the poet, 1996
* [http://bay-journal.com/bay/1he/people/fp-taylor-annie.html Annie Taylor]
* [http://www.panix.com/~hamiltro/films_videos/fvmores/qom.shtml Queen of the Mist]
* [http://www.niagarafallslive.com/daredevils_of_niagara_falls.htm Daredevils of Niagara Falls]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7698828 Find-A-Grave biography]
* [http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/search.asp?search=1&db=5&idx=ti&query=annie+taylor Annie Edson Taylor images from the Niagara Falls Public Library (Ont.)]
* [http://www.niagarapoetry.ca/default.htm Niagara Falls Poetry Project - contains a number of poems about Annie Taylor]
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