Annie Edson Taylor was born in 1838 in Auburn, New York. She was a school teacher, but by the time she turned 60, she was struggling financially. In an effort to become financially stable, Taylor came up with the idea to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel as a publicity stunt. She believed that the fame and fortune that would come with her survival would help her secure a better future.
On October 24, 1901, Taylor climbed into a wooden barrel that was lined with an inner layer of iron and padded with a mattress. She then sent the barrel over the Horseshoe Falls, the most dangerous of the three sections of Niagara Falls.
To her relief, Taylor survived the barrel ride and was pulled from the barrel by rescuers. However, she suffered a minor injury to her head and was in shock. Despite her survival, her fame and fortune were short-lived, and she was not able to make much money from her stunt.
Annie Edson Taylor died alone in poverty, in a boarding house in Niagara Falls, on April 29, 1921, at the age of 82.