Jean Lussier

On July 4, 1928, Jean Albert Lussier took the plunge over Niagara Falls. Lussier was a 36-year-old machinist from Springfield, Massachusetts.

Lussier was born to French-Canadian parents in Concord, New Hampshire. At an early age, he moved back to Quebec, but returned to the USA to become more fluent in English.

He became interested when he heard of the tragic death of Charles Stephen at Niagara and soon afterwards went on vacation to Niagara Falls to learn more about trying a trip himself.

He started to design and build a vessel of his own, which was not exactly a barrel, but a rubber ball. Instead of the usual type of wood barrel design, he was the first daredevil ever to choose an inflated apparatus.

With inner and outer steel bands for reinforcement, Lussier’s rubber ball was six feet in diameter. Three dozen inner tubes lined the inside of the ball with a space for Lussier in the center. To keep it from spinning, a 150 lb rubber ballast was built into the bottom of the ball. After his plunge over the falls, Jean Albert Lussierbeing helped out on shore.

By moving to Niagara Falls, New York, he would later attempt to capitalize on his adventure and sell pieces of his “rubber ball” to tourists for 50 cents a piece. He would find discarded inner tubes when the original rubber was worn out. It seemed to the locals that he had a never-ending supply.

Lussier would describe his journey over the falls later as smooth, and often talked about making a return trip over the falls. Lussier died in Niagara Falls, New York, of natural causes in 1971.

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