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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 16th, 2012, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
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Niagara Falls Tightrope Walks

http://www.niagaraparks.com/media/ni...g-history.html

TIGHTROPE WALKERS OVER THE NIAGARA GORGE


JEAN FRANCOIS GRAVELET (THE GREAT BLONDIN)

Professionally known as “The Great Blondin”, Gravelet was the first of many tightrope walkers to appear at Niagara Falls. He was a professional artist and showman trained in the great tradition of the European circus. At age 31 he came to America and made the announcement that he would cross the gorge of the Niagara River on a tightrope.

On June 30, 1859 the rope was in position and at five o’clock in the afternoon, Blondin started the trip that was to make history.

Watchers saw him lower a rope from the tightrope to the Maid of the Mist, pull up a bottle and sit down while he refreshed himself. He began his ascent toward the Canadian shore, paused, steadied the balancing pole and suddenly executed a back somersault.

Never content merely to repeat his last performance, Blondin crossed his rope on a bicycle, walked blindfolded, pushed a wheelbarrow, cooked an omelet in the centre and made the trip with his hands and feet manacled.

Yet even these stunts failed to satisfy Blondin’s urge to test him. He announced that on August 19 he would cross the gorge carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back. It was to be the supreme test of Blondin’s skill and stamina.

According to Colcord, the trip was a nightmare. In the unguyed centre section, the pair swayed violently. Blondin was fighting for his life. He broke into a desperate run to reach the first guy rope. When he reached it and steadied himself, it broke. Once more the pair swayed alarmingly as Blondin again ran for the next guy.

When they reached it Blondin gasped for Colcord to get down. Six times in all Colcord had to dismount while Blondin had to charge the crowd on the brink to prevent the press of people forcing them back in the precipice.

He died in England at the age of 73.

WILLIAM LEONARD HUNT

A resident of Port Hope, Ontario, known as Signor Farini, William Hunt duplicated almost all Blondin’s stunts, but never managed to steal the limelight from Blondin.

The Niagara Falls Gazette reported Farini’s September 5, 1860 washing machine stunt, “He strapped an Empire Washing Machine to his back and walked slowly to the desired place in the centre of the rope”.

He secured his balancing pole and machine on the cable. He then drew water from the river nearly 200 feet below, in primitive style, with a pail and cord.

Several ladies, desiring to patronize him in his character as a washerwoman, had given him their handkerchiefs to wash. Before long his washing was done, the handkerchiefs wrung out and hung up to dry on the uprights and crossbars of the machine. With the washing flapping in the wind, he adjusted his load and returned.

HARRY LESLIE
After the 1859 and 1860 performances of Blondin and Farini, there was a lull until June 15, 1865 when Harry Leslie, billed as “The American Blondin”, crossed the Whirlpool Rapids gorge on a rope.

ANDREW JENKINS
On August 24, 1869 Andrew Jenkins crossed at the same site, riding a velocipede.Walking a tight rope at Niagara Falls

MARIA SPELTERINA
A 23-year-old Italian woman, Maria Spelterina was the only woman to cross the Niagara gorge on a tightrope. In 1867, she walked backwards, put a paper bag over her head, and wore peach baskets on her feet to inject some drama into her crossings.

STEPHEN PEER
Stephen Peer of Niagara Falls, Ontario made several crossings, but a few days after his walk on June 25, 1887, his body was found on the rocks below. It was assumed that he had fallen while attempting a night crossing wearing his street shoes.

SAMUEL DIXON
On September 6, 1890, Dixon, a Toronto photographer, attired in terra cotta coloured tights and black silk trunks and wearing his lucky Civil War cap crossed the gorge on the same cable used by Stephen Peer. He made a number of crossings performing various stunts on the wire.

CLIFFORD CALVERLEY
On October 12, 1892, a Toronto steeplejack, Clifford Calverley, crossed several times on a 1.9 cm (3/4") steel cable. On one of his crossings he established a record when he made the trip in 6 minutes, 32 ˝ seconds.

JAMES HARDY
James Hardy at 21 years of age was the youngest person to cross the gorge on a wire and made several crossings in July 1896. His performances were the last tightrope walking displays permitted in Niagara Falls.

Mulder: "So you're agreeing with me?"
Scully "No! You're bat-crap crazy."


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 16th, 2012, 02:16 PM
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Re: Niagara Falls Tightrope Walks

Yeah, it was pretty amazing. I was there with about 100,000 of my closest friends
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2012, 04:38 PM
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Re: Niagara Falls Tightrope Walks

This stuff fascinates me for some reason.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2012, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Niagara Falls Tightrope Walks

His wearing a harness made this a bit "ehh" for me. Knowing that if you fall you'll be safe takes an immense amount of pressure off. I mean, for a few million I'd get up there with a harness. Without one though - there's no way.

Mulder: "So you're agreeing with me?"
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2012, 05:38 PM
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Re: Niagara Falls Tightrope Walks

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Originally Posted by pov View Post
His wearing a harness made this a bit "ehh" for me. Knowing that if you fall you'll be safe takes an immense amount of pressure off. I mean, for a few million I'd get up there with a harness. Without one though - there's no way.
Oh, see, I didn't even know that. I had heard about his attempt a few days before but I didn't know he was wearing a harness.

I remember the day Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978. It was on the evening news. Sadly, there is a video of it on youtube.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2012, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Niagara Falls Tightrope Walks

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Oh, see, I didn't even know that. I had heard about his attempt a few days before but I didn't know he was wearing a harness.

I remember the day Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978. It was on the evening news. Sadly, there is a video of it on youtube.
Yeah. Then after the walk the end he said "Yeah, I wore a harness but I didn't use it" which seemed strange to me. And yeah, they showed the video of his grandpa falling. Plus they showed another video in which 2 other family members died when the "Wallenda pyramid" fell. So I can't give him that much respect for the stunt since the mental pressure of knowing that if you slip, you die is a major part of the mental feat.

Quote:
ABC, which televised the walk live, insisted that Wallenda wear a harness connected to the wire to spare its viewers the possibility of seeing the daredevil fall to his death.

But Wallenda's family — the Flying Wallendas acrobatic troupe — is famous for working without a net or its equivalent. And few if any of the other dozen people to walk over the Niagara River near the falls used such a safety device.

Before the walk, Wallenda said he only wore the harness because he needed ABC's financial support for cover the costs of his project, which topped $1 million.

Mulder: "So you're agreeing with me?"
Scully "No! You're bat-crap crazy."


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2012, 09:38 PM
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Re: Niagara Falls Tightrope Walks

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Originally Posted by pov View Post
Yeah. Then after the walk the end he said "Yeah, I wore a harness but I didn't use it" which seemed strange to me. And yeah, they showed the video of his grandpa falling. Plus they showed another video in which 2 other family members died when the "Wallenda pyramid" fell. So I can't give him that much respect for the stunt since the mental pressure of knowing that if you slip, you die is a major part of the mental feat.
yeah....wearing a harness doesn't make it that impressive. even i would've tried to do it (and fallen within the first 2 metres ) with a harness.
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