Many folks have tried going over Niagara Falls in many different ways, but Annie Taylor was the first to go over in a barrel. It was October 24, 1901 and she was 43 years old, or so she said. Genealogical records confirm she was actually 63!!

A school teacher from Bay City, Michigan, she was strapped into a special harness in a wooden barrel and towed out into the mainstream of the Niagara River and cut loose. Seventeen minutes later, the barrel was hooked and dragged onto the Canadian Shore. As the first to conquer the falls emerged from the barrel, she said, "No one ought to ever do that again."

Twenty years later, still living in Niagara Falls, Annie Taylor died penniless.

On 24 October 1901, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She felt her job as a schoolteacher in Bay City, Michigan was too insignificant, and believed that going over the falls would bring her fame and fortune. Taylor used a pickle barrel for her trip, constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. 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 from the American shore, north of Goat Island. The Niagara River currents 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 Taylor was discovered to be alive. She briefly earned money speaking about her experience, but never achieved the heights of fame she sought. Taylor died on 29 April 1921 at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York and is buried in the "Stunters Section" of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

There are varying reports on whether or not Taylor completed her trip with a pet cat in the barrel. According to the Buffalo Evening News from a week following the stunt, Taylor was accompanied by a black cat named Iagara. The IMAX movie The Falls corroborates this by placing a black kitten called Henry into the barrel with Taylor, and adds the humorous note of a terrified white kitten emerging from the barrel at the end of the trip. Joan Murray's biography of Taylor, Queen of the Mist, indicates that Taylor used a cat to test her barrel's fallsworthiness before going over herself; the book indicates that the barrel survived but the cat did not. Publicity photos of Taylor with her barrel include a white kitten but do not indicate if the animal went over the falls with Taylor.

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