Doing dangerously silly things is usually the province of men, who for hormonal reasons are much more prone to teasing alligators, climbing icy mountains and trying to go fast in a rocket-power shopping cart.
Imagine the surprise of the world, therefore, when on October24, 1901 an elderly woman climbed into a barrel constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress and floated down the Niagara River toward the famous falls. Annie Edson Taylor, on her 63rd birthday, clutching her lucky heart-shaped cushion, was the first person to survive a trip over the mighty cataract.
Her motive was financial but she made little money from her perilous drop, especially after her manager ran away with her barrel.
Of her stunt she would say: “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.”