We continue our look at the daredevils of Niagara Falls here at the Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. We tip our hat to them, and in honor of their memory we invite you into the depths of the Fear Factory itself, where you might yourself feeling some of the same things that those people felt, high up and alone over the Niagara Falls.
It’s just that you’ll be creeping through the dark and cold halls of the Nightmares Fear Factory, instead.
We start with Maud Willard.
Maud Willard would show up on the scene and immediately decide that the best idea in this life-threatening situation was to pair up with the man who had defied death so many times. Carlisle Graham reappears in this chronicle, promising to swim behind the barrel within which Maud Willard would ride through the rapids. If this doesn’t seem like a particularly amazing idea, I would imagine they thought that the wake made by the barrel might calm the water enough to make swimming possible in places where boats had literally been sucked down into the riverbed? Or something?
We get to see a curious case of history repeating here, except this time, the dog survives. Maud Willard, who brings her dog, would get trapped in the rapids quite predictably, and over the course of six hours she would suffocate while her dog breathed through the airhole.
It survives. She does not.
Don’t take pets if you’re planning to ride in a barrel through the Niagara Gorge, is the lesson here—they may have just been waiting for their moment to commit the perfect crime.
On Monday, October 21st 1901, Anna Edson Taylor would literally jump down the length of the Niagara Falls. Believe it or not, she survives, and becomes the first and only attempt at this stunt to ever happen. Amazingly, she got away with it with just some bruising, a concussion, and a mild scalp laceration.
To me, the whole thing sounds straight out of Monty Python.
I forgot to mention that she did that while in a barrel. So I guess when they say “shot” the Falls, what they mean is that one rides some kind of vehicle over the lip of the Niagara Falls and then essentially lets fate decide if they ever see daylight again.
And here I am not even liking to fly in an airplane. The things these people will do to entertain you, right?
Despite having to be in bed for about three days, mildly hysterical and recovering from the shock of her long fall over the Falls (see what I did there?) she claims the trip was worth it but also warns against anyone else ever doing the same thing.
There’s a bunch of articles that suggest she sustained some kind of mental shock—her speech “wandered” and she looked vague, but some doctors are reported to claim that she would be just fine with a few days rest. This, I think, should be taken as the 1900s version of your gym teacher suggesting you walk off contusions, headaches, broken limbs, and so forth.
Eventually, Anna Edson Taylor would die blind, lonely and poor. Some friends would have a whip-round to get her permanent accomodations upgraded to the Oakwood Cemetary where she would rest alongside other members of the Niagara Falls Daredevil Pantheon such as Captain Webb and Carlisle Graham.
Come visit us at the Nightmares Fear Factory, where the ghosts of the fallen daredevils may well be waiting to meet you too.