Daredevils of Niagara Falls - A Comprehensive History of the Falls, the People & the Places
Over The Falls
Annie Taylor
Bobbie Leach
Charles G. Stephens
Jean Albert Lussier
George A. Stathakis
Red Hill Jr.
William Fitzgerald aka Nathan Boya
Karel Soucek
Steve Trotter
John (Dave) Munday
Jeffrey (Clyde) Petkovich and Peter DeBernardi
Jessie Sharp
John (Dave) Munday (second trip)
Steve Trotter (a second time) and Lori Martin
Robert “Bob” Overacker
Kirk Jones

Tightrope Walkers
Clifford Calverly
The Great Farini
Maria Spelterina
Steve Peere
Samuel John Dixon
Henry Balleni

Henri Rechatin

Shooting the Rapids
Carlisle Graham
Capt. Joel Robinson
George Hazlett & Sadie Allen
Martha E. Wagenfuhrer
Maud Willard
Red Hill Sr

Swimming the Rapids
Captain Matthew Webb
William Kendall

Sam Patch

Lincoln Beachey

The Maid of the Mist
The History of the Maid of the Mist
The Legend of the Maid of the Mist

Miracles at the Falls
The Roger Woodward Story
The Old Scow

Ice Bridges
Tragedy at the Falls

Niagara Falls Bridges
The Early Bridges
Collapse of the Fallsview Bridge
The Second Fallsview Bridge
The Queenston-Lewiston Bridge
The Rainbow Bridge
The Whirlpool Bridge

Historical Niagara
The History of the Falls
The First Inhabitants
European Discovery
The War of 1812
Navy Island
The Early Tourist Trade
North America's First Museum
The Burning Springs
The Schooner Michigan

The Spanish Aerocar
Dufferin Islands

Incline Railways
Prospect Park Incline Railway
Whirlpool Rapids Incline
Falls Incline Railway



Carlisle Graham

On Sunday, July11th, 1886 Graham Carlisle, a barrel maker from Philadelphia became the first person ever to shoot the Great Gorge Rapids in a barrel.

Capt. Joel Robinson had already piloted the Maid of the Mist from it’s landing below the Horseshoe Falls to Queenston in 1861.

Carlisle Graham would make his trip in a five and a half foot barrel of oaken staves and handmade iron hoops.

Graham, being six feet tall was forced to stoop over once inside to allow the water-tight lid to be secured into place.

With the exception of his arms Graham was encased in waterproof sheeting. Metal handles would allow him to grip the barrel.

Carlisle Graham’s trip took 30 minutes. When rescued Mr. Graham was unhurt but he had become extremely ill and dizzy from the trip.

Carlisle Graham standing next to his barrel

On August 19th, 1886 Mr. Graham attempted another trip through the rapids. This time he was planning on leaving his head outside the barrel. Graham survived this second attempt but sustained hearing loss.

The day before Graham’s second trip another stunter James Scott of Lewiston, New York attempted to swim the rapids and lost his life.

Carlisle Graham would make several more trips through the Great Gorge Rapids. His third trip was on June 15th, 1887 while his fourth trip in a newly designed seven foot barrel was on August 25th, 1889.

On July 14th, 1901 Graham made his fifth trip. This time he would not be so lucky. His barrel became caught in a whirlpool eddie and he came very close to suffocating. By this time Carlisle Graham had gained much notoriety and he had become quite a showman. He talked about making the trip over the falls, but never actually followed through.

On September 7th, 1901 Graham had masterminded a double performance with a friend, Maud Willard of Canton, Ohio. She would ride the barrel through the Whirlpool Rapids and into the Whirlpool itself. Graham was then to intercept the barrel at the Devil’s Hole Rapids and swim alongside the barrel to Lewiston.

Maud Willard performed her stunt, but unfortunately was caught in the Whirlpool Rapids. Graham went on to perform his part of the stunt by swimming all the way to Lewiston without Willard.

Upon returning to the Whirlpool later in the evening Graham found that his barrel with Maud Willard inside was still trapped in the Whirlpool Rapids. Maude had been inside for over five hours!. When the barrel was finally caught and pulled into shore it was discovered that Miss Willard had suffocated. Her pet fox terrier, who had accompanied her on the trip was unharmed.