Imagine walking across the Niagara Falls on a tightrope with the heavy winds, the thick mist and the thundering sounds around you. The thought itself is enough to send a shiver down one’s spine but some really courageous daredevils have attempted this. While it's a risky proposition, the first to person to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope was Jean-Francois Gravelet, also known as Charles Blondin.
Niagara Falls Daredevil Charles Blondin
He had done numerous stunts but this was clearly his biggest one. Blondin always prepared well for his acts. For his Niagara Falls stunt, he went all out to create awareness about the act before the actual performance. He contacted the Niagara Falls Gazette which carried the news of the daredevil performing the tightrope walk. Soon, other newspapers too became aware about the stunt and the news spread like wildfire.
On the day of the stunt, thousands of people gathered to watch the daredevil perform the risky act. Blondin had to walk on a 1,100-foot long cable with a balancing pole and cross the gorge at a height of about 160 feet. While the cable had a steep climb at both ends, it sagged at the centre. There was no safety equipment in case he plunged into the river so that made the stunt quite hazardous. But Blondin, with his many years of daredevilry, was no stranger to danger. He was so sure of the success of his stunt that he even offered to carry a volunteer on his back while crossing the gorge. But he had no takers.
The crossing started late afternoon with Blondin dressed in pink tights and a yellow tunic. He made the dangerous stunt look easy while walking on the three-inch thick cable. In fact, he made the stunt quite entertaining by actually lying down to rest for some time. He also stood on one leg on the cable high above the flowing waters. Blondin comfortably completed the stunt in approximately 17 minutes to loud cheers from the crowd. And he also went back across the rope in a much shorter time. The daring stunt got rave reviews all over North America and Europe.
Multiple Trips over Niagara Falls
Blondin didn’t just stop at one attempt. He went on to cross the gorge near the falls a few more times. Each time he would bring up an innovative way to cross it. These included walking the tightrope blindfolded, carrying his manager on his back and pushing a wheelbarrow on the cable. Several people tried the stunt after him but ‘The Great Blondin’ was definitely the trailblazer. Recently in 2012, Nik Wallenda became the first person to do a tightrope walk directly over the Niagara Falls and not downstream from it.
Charles Blondin paved the way for other adventurous individuals and his name will be right on top whenever there is a mention of the daredevils of Niagara Falls.
Look out over many of the spots that Blondin walked across during your upcoming Niagara Falls stay. This piece of Niagara Falls History is truly given context when standing beside the sheer power of the Falls.
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