Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Going Over Niagara Works


Charles Stevens, 1920

The next daredevil to challenge Niagara Falls was Charles Stevens. Charles was also from England and was also something of a stuntman. He was a barber who performed high dives and parachute jumps and was well-known as "The Demon Barber of Bristol."

He went to Niagara Falls in 1920 to go over the Falls in a very heavy, Russian-oak barrel. Bobby Leach and William Hill, Sr., a local man who had rescued many from Niagara's swirling waters, tried to convince Charles to send the barrel over the Falls on a test run first, but he refused. His stubbornness was the death of him.

He became the third barrel rider to go over the Falls and the first to die doing so. His barrel was large and heavy, with straps for his arms. He strapped an anvil to his feet for ballast, put his arms through the straps and reluctantly agreed to take a small tank of oxygen. When the barrel hit the water at the base of the Falls, the anvil broke through the bottom, pulling Charles with it. All that was recovered was his right arm, still strapped in the harness.


More to Explore