Annie Taylor was the first person to successfully descend Niagara Falls…on her 63rd birthday!
It’s a pretty crazy stunt to go over Niagara falls. The number of people who have done so and survived isn’t very high.
One of the ways people choose to try it is in a barrel. This is the way that the very first person went over the Falls. That was Annie Edson Taylor, who would do so in 1902.
There were several delays in the launching of Taylor’s barrel, as not many people were interested in being part of what would likely end up being literal suicide.
The barrel itself was custom made for her trip, constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress.
To help ease the nerves of some, a cat was sent over the falls in Taylor’s barrel.
Despite rumors otherwise, the car survived, and there are pictures of Taylor and the cat after its trip.
Two days later Taylor became the first person to ever successfully travel down Niagara Falls. It was her 63rd birthday.
Taylor's main motivation for the stunt was that she wanted to secure her later years financially, and avoid the poorhouse.