Taylor’s grave. (Knightflyte/Wikimedia Commons)
Taylor didn’t take her trip over the Falls in any old pickle barrel. After strapping herself into a barrel just over five feet in length outfitted with a leather harness and cushions to keep her somewhat comfortable as she smacked into the water, the barrel was towed into the middle of the Niagara River and set adrift to begin the maddening 20-minute journey through 200 feet of rocky rapids toward the falls.
After she went over and made her way to the shore, she posed for photos and gave a short series of interviews in which she stressed how very much she regretted everything. “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat,” she told the press. “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces, than make another trip over the fall.”
She didn’t even get much out of it. She earned modest sums speaking about her experience, but most of it was spent on private detectives to track down her former manager, who stole her barrel. She might have even considered the whole thing a net negative, as she blamed her later vision and other health problems on the trip over the falls. She spent the rest of her days working a series of odd jobs (and we do mean “odd”—she worked as a clairvoyant for some time) until she died penniless in 1921. She was buried alongside other daredevils in the “Stunter’s Rest” plot of Oakwood Cemetery near those cursed waterfalls, so at least that’s pretty cool.