Niagara Falls is many things: a heart-pounding source of power, an old-fashioned honeymoon destination, a tacky tourist mecca, and a seemingly magnetic attraction for daredevils of all kinds. The Canadian and American falls have seen their share of hoaxer, hucksters, and heroes—especially barrel riders, who attracted crowds as they bobbed down the roaring Niagara River and evoked oohs and ahs from the crowd on the shore as they were carried over the Falls. If they died, the crowds dispersed and the stunt became even more thrilling for the next attempt. If they survived, the barrel riders became immediate, national celebrities—at least for a while. In the next episode we will tell the bizarre tale of the first successful barrel jumper in history, a person who survived the vertical drop over the falls in 1901. Her name was Annie Edson Taylor, who at 63 years old resembled a stern schoolmarm because she was one. But that just one of many unexpected details in the story of her odyssey from the school house to an ingeniously padded barrel and into Niagara Falls immortality.

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