Friday, October 29, 2004

Wetbacks of the North

Mrs. Annie Edson Taylor (left) became the first woman to challenge Niagara Falls in a barrel.

On October 24th 1901, her birthday, Taylor rode her barrel over Niagara Falls. She was a 46 year old widow and was a school teacher in Bay City, Michigan. She weighed 160 pounds. (That dress weighs 160 pounds. - ed) Taylor's barrel was built with white Kentucky oak held together by seven iron hoops. It was 22 inches in diameter at the head, 34 inches in diameter in the middle and 15 inches in diameter at the foot. The barrel was four and a half feet long and weighed 160 pounds. For ballast a 100 - 200 pound anvil was placed in the barrels bottom.

She began her trip just off of the American side of the Niagara River upstream of Goat Island. She was dressed in a long black dress and a flowery hat. About 600 feet from shore Mrs. Taylor climbed into her barrel so that she was standing on the anvil. The barrel was packed with padding and a small mattress and the lid was then screwed into place.

At 4:05 p.m., when released, the barrel flowed toward the Canadian side and over the Horseshoe Falls. Mrs. Taylor successfully endured the trip without any major injuries (slight cuts and bruises only). It wasn't until 4:40 p.m. that rescuers could get close enough to Taylor's barrel along the Canadian shore to let her out. The top of Taylor's barrel had to be cut away. When released from the barrel Mrs. Taylor said " nobody ought ever do that again".

The rescuers were fully aware that they were committing an indictable offense in Canada, by aiding an abetting illegal immigration. Between 4:05 pm and 4:40 pm the Canadian Immigration Service searched dilligently for Annie but were unable to locate her. When asked how they could miss picking her up given such an obvious public stunt, a Spokesman for Immigration Canada said: "Well we can't be expected to search every Kentucky Oak Barrel that comes over those falls. "

Mrs. Taylor was also charged with the less serious offence of Unlawful Conveyance of an Anvil or other Blacksmithing Device Across International Waters While Committing a Stunt but was never captured by Canadian authorities.
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