This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
October 24 is the 297th day of the year (298th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 68 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1901, a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel. After her husband died in the Civil War, the New York-born Taylor moved all over the U. S. before settling in Bay City, Michigan, around 1898. In July 1901, while reading an article about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, she learned of the growing popularity of two enormous waterfalls located on the border of upstate New York and Canada. Strapped for cash and seeking fame, Taylor came up with the perfect attention-getting stunt: She would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Desiring to secure her later years financially, she decided she would be the first person to ride Niagara Falls in a barrel. Taylor used a custom-made barrel for her trip, constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. Several delays occurred in the launching of the barrel, particularly because no one wanted to be part of a potential suicide. Two days before Taylor’s own attempt, a domestic cat was sent over the Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to test its strength. Contrary to rumors at the time, the cat survived the plunge unharmed and later was posed with Taylor in photographs.
On October 24, 1901, her 63rd birthday, the barrel was put over the side of a rowboat, and Taylor climbed in, along with her lucky heart-shaped pillow. After screwing down the lid, friends used a bicycle tire pump to compress the air in the barrel. The hole used for this was plugged with a cork, and Taylor was set adrift near the American shore, south of Goat Island.
The Niagara River currents carried the barrel toward the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, which has since been the site for all daredevil stunting at Niagara Falls. Rescuers reached her barrel shortly after the plunge. Taylor was discovered to be alive and relatively uninjured, save for a small gash on her head. The trip itself took less than twenty minutes, but it was some time before the barrel was actually opened. After the journey, Annie Taylor told the press:
If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat… I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.
She briefly earned money speaking about her experience, but was never able to build much wealth. Her manager, Frank M. Russell, decamped with her barrel, and most of her savings were used towards private detectives hired to find it. It was eventually located in Chicago, only to permanently disappear some time later.
Annie Taylor died on April 29, 1921, aged 82, at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York. She is interred in the “Stunters Section” of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.
69 – Second Battle of Bedriacum, forces under Antonius Primus, the commander of the Danube armies, loyal to Vespasian, defeat the forces of Emperor Vitellius.
1147 – After a siege of 4 months crusader knights led by Afonso Henriques, reconquered Lisbon.
1260 – The spectacular Cathedral of Chartres is dedicated in the presence of King Louis IX of France; the cathedral is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1260 – Saif ad-Din Qutuz, Mamluk sultan of Egypt, is assassinated by Baibars, who seizes power for himself.
1360 – The Treaty of Bretigny is ratified at Calais, marking the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War.
1590 – John White, The governor of the second Roanoke Colony, returns to England after an unsuccessful search for the “lost” colonists.
1648 – The Peace of Westphalia is signed, marking the end of the Thirty Years’ War.
1795 – Partitions of Poland: The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is completely divided among Austria, Prussia, and Russia
1812 – Napoleonic Wars: The Battle of Maloyaroslavets takes place near Moscow.
1857 – Sheffield F.C., the world’s first football club, is founded in Sheffield, England.
1861 – The First Transcontinental Telegraph line across the United States is completed, spelling the end for the 18-month-old Pony Express.
1892 – Goodison Park, the world’s first association football specific stadium is opened.
1901 – Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
1911 – Orville Wright remains in the air 9 minutes and 45 seconds in a Wright Glider at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.
1912 – First Balkan War: The Battle of Kumanovo concludes with the Serbian victory.
1917 – Battle of Caporetto; Italy suffers a catastrophic defeat at the forces of Austria-Hungary and Germany on the Austro-Italian front of World War I (lasts until 19 November – also called Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo).
1917 – The day of the October revolution, The Red Revolution.
1926 – Harry Houdini’s last performance, which is at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan.
1929 – “Black Thursday” stock market crash on the New York Stock Exchange.
1930 – A bloodless coup d’etat in Brazil ousts Washington Luis Pereira de Sousa, the last President of the First Republic. Getulio Dornelles Vargas is then installed as “provisional president.”
1931 – The George Washington Bridge opens to public traffic.
1944 – World War II: The Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, and the battleship Musashi are sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
1945 – Founding of the United Nations
1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.
1947 – Walt Disney testifies to the House Un-American Activities Committee, naming Disney employees he believes to be communists.
1954 – Dwight D. Eisenhower pledges United States support to South Vietnam
1957 – The USAF starts the X-20 Dyna-Soar program.
1960 – Nedelin catastrophe: An R-16 ballistic missile explodes on the launch pad at the Soviet Union’s Baikonur Cosmodrome space facility, killing over 100. Among the dead is Field Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin, whose death is reported to have occurred in a plane crash
1964 – Northern Rhodesia gains independence from the United Kingdom and becomes the Republic of Zambia (Southern Rhodesia remained a colony)
1973 – Yom Kippur War ends
1977 – Veterans Day is observed on the fourth Monday in October for the seventh and last time. (The holiday is once again observed on November 11 beginning the following year.)
* 1980 – Government of Poland legalizes Solidarity trade union
1986 – Nezar Hindawi is sentenced to 45 years in prison, the longest sentence handed down by a British court, for the attempted bombing on an El Al flight at Heathrow. After the verdict, the United Kingdom breaks diplomatic relations with Syria, claiming that Hindawi is helped by Syrian officials.
1990 – Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti reveals to the Italian parliament the existence of Gladio, the Italian “stay-behind” clandestine paramilitary NATO army.
1998 – Launch of Deep Space 1 comet/asteroid mission
2002 – Police arrest spree killers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, ending the Beltway sniper attacks in the area around Washington, DC.
2003 – Concorde makes its last commercial flight.
2005 – Hurricane Wilma makes landfall in Florida resulting in 35 direct 26 indirect fatalities and causing $20.6B USD in damage.
2006 – Justice Rutherford of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down the “motive clause”, an important part of the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act.
2008 – “Bloody Friday” saw many of the world’s stock exchanges experience the worst declines in their history, with drops of around 10% in most indices.