1859 – Charles Blondin walks a tightrope over Niagara Falls

One of the most celebrated tightrope walkers of his era, Charles Blondin was an extreme sports legend more than a century before extreme sports was invented by bored rich people. Blondin’s most famous exploit was walking a tightrope that had been stretched across Niagara Gorge not far downstream of the falls (near the current location of Rainbow Bridge).

The tightrope was 340m in length, 8.3cm in diameter and hung 49m above the river below. Blondin first performed this feat on June 30, 1859, and repeated it several times thereafter, always adding some variation to increase the challenge. Recorded variations include blindfolded, in a sack, trundling a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying a man (his manager, Harry Colcord) on his back, standing on a chair with only one chair leg on the rope, and sitting down midway while he cooked and ate an omelet – he pushed a wheelbarrow containing the necessaries out onto the rope to do this, and also lowered parts of the cooked omelet to passengers on a boat below him.

Beat that, extreme sports fans.

Referenced in:
Blondin Makes an Omelette — Gareth Liddiard