Niagara Falls is an epic landmark in America, associated with a lot of old movies and characters trying to ride down it in a barrel. Or in a canoe or some other mode of transportation that would be incredibly dangerous.
Sadly and tragically, the reality is that there are a lot of people who ACTUALLY end up falling to their death in the historic waterfall. The number of people who jump to their deaths at Niagara Falls each year ranges from 20-40, depending on who you ask.
A gruesomely high number of bodies - 5,000 to be exact - have been found at the foot of the falls between the years of 1850 and 2011. The area, like many other common suicide locales (such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco) is very difficult to secure entirely. There are a lot of potential jumping points, as awful as that sounds.
An interesting side business that the captains and crew of the 'Maid of the Mist' tour boats who operate at the bottom of the falls apparently have picked up is the retrieving of the corpses of the jumpers... chilling.
Here are some truly insane stories of people who accidentally died at Niagara Falls! (Plus some animals that weren't so lucky)
- A professional baseball player named Ed Delahanty was killed in probably the craziest manner possible - he died in 1903 after falling from a nearby train bridge after he was kicked out of a train for "disorderly conduct." That story is so 1903...
- In 1930, a man went over the falls in a barrel... did he survive? No, he suffocated after being trapped for 18 hours behind a curtain of water that his barrel got stuck in.
- In 1951, a man also attempted to go over the barrel (it's a head scratcher, really) and he called the barrel "The Thing." It broke on impact and killed him gruesomely.
- As recently as 1990, Jessie Sharp went over the falls in a kayak and didn't wear a life vest because he thought he might get trapped. His body was never found.
- In 1995, Robert Overacker used a Jet Ski to ride over the falls... smart? No, he had a parachute on it but it didn't open and he fell to his death.
- In 2011, an exchange student from Japan crawled over the railing and sat next to a rock by the river. When she was trying to return she slipped and fell to her death.
- Probably the craziest story... in 1827, a hotel owner bought what they call a schooner... loaded it with a buffalo, two bears, two raccoons, a dog, two foxes, geese, and an eagle. Why? Because he could. He sent it over the falls and the two bears managed to escape and swim to safety before going over. The other animals all died.
Yikes. I guess I have to check out Niagara Falls now?