Local History Digital Exhibits
In June 1911 Lincoln J. Beachey flew a biplane from Niagara Falls, New York to the Canadian Rapids. He flew right over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, along the Niagara Gorge and then under the arches of the Falls View Bridge. He commented afterwards "it was a flight filled with more dangers than you can imagine. ...I was never in such treacherous air currents" Beachey died just four years later performing stunts at the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco.
Bobby Leach born in Cornwall, England was a circus stuntman. How he arrived in North America we do not know. His goals were to complete a "triple challenge" of the Falls and the Niagara River.
- a barrel trip through the Rapids to the Whirlpool
- a barrel trip over the Falls
- a parachute jump from the Upper Suspension Bridge into the River, just upstream from the Rapids
In the summer of 1910 he made his first attempt, but became stuck in a eddy in the Whirlpool and had to be rescued by the famous Niagara Riverman "Red Hill Senior". On July 25, 1911 he made the trip successfully, but not undamaged. He received two broken knee caps and a broken jaw. His became the first successful navigation of the Falls. He returned to Niagara Falls in the 20s for his final stunt, parachuting off the Upper Suspension Bridge. Rumour has it that he did not parachute from the Bridge but rather from a plane and that the wind forced him to land in a corn field in Canada. While visiting New Zealand, Bobby Leach slipped on an orange peel, fracturing his leg. Gangrene set in and Bobby Leach died on April 26, 1926.
Sam Patch was the first of Niagara's many daredevils. In October 1829 the 22 year old jumped off a platform at the top of a 98 foot high ladder set up below Goat Island, not far from the Cave of the Winds. He survived. On November 6, 1829 he attempted a jump from the Genesee Fall in Rochester, New York. This time he did not survive.