Friday night, Nik Wallenda, from the infamous Wallenda circus family, crossed the brink of Niagara Falls on tight rope. He was the first daredevil to attempt crossing at this point, and despite swirling winds and driving mist- he was successful.

For centuries the Falls has been a magnet for the daring- many of which were ladies!

Maria Spelterini, described as a "buxom 150 pound beautiful woman of Italian descent, famous for wearing outrageous costumes," was the first woman to cross the Niagara gorge on tight rope; she did so in 1876 when she was 23. 

And as if being the first woman wasn't enough, Maria traversed the rope many times- some journeys with peach baskets on her feet, others with her hands and feet hand cuffed.

Niagara Falls saw another first in 1901 when Annie Edson Taylor went over the falls in a barrel. 

Claiming to be 46 at the time (actually in her sixties), Annie survived the voyage and became forever known as the "Queen of the Mist."

I don't think the kitten went over the falls with her, but it sure is cute!

1901 became known as the "Year of the Women" as two other ladies took voyages in barrels that year.

Martha Wagenfuhrer was the first to navigate the Niagara Rapids, in a barrel, in September 1901.

aptly dressed for sailing in a barrel!

The following day, Maude Willard attempted to duplicate the stunt. While she successfully made it through the rapids, her barrel got hung up and she suffocated.

      For many, motivation for these deft defying stunts was monetary. Destitute, Annie Edson Taylor sought fortune through her ride over the Falls- though she died, years later, a pauper. Others sought fame.
No matter what the motivation- can you imagine bottling yourself up in a barrel and heading over a massive cataract? Or how about putting peach baskets on your feet and walking a tightrope above angry water? Not this gal!

If you're interested in checking out more of Niagara's daredevils, male and female, visit Niagara Falls Public Library's Stunters & Daredevils page (the home of all the wonderful photographs above).

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