How the first man to go over Niagara Falls twice was thwarted by Hydro in initial attempt

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Published August 16, 2023 at 3:21 pm

Dave Munday’s first daredevil attempt to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was thwarted not by the Niagara Parks Police but rather the Ontario Hydro power plant.

If you follow Niagara Falls’ daredevils, the name Dave Munday is a familiar one. He was the first person to successfully go over the Falls in a barrel twice and survive both trips.

There is one other man who has done it but Munday’s successful 1985 and 1993 plunges over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls beat his only competitor Steve Trotter’s 1986 and 1995 drops by months in one case and a couple of years in the second drop.

However, few have ever heard of Munday’s first attempt on July 28, 1985 because it got thwarted by officials. It wasn’t the Niagara Parks Police who halted him, though.

It was, quite surprisingly, Ontario Hydro who stopped him cold. You see, as he embarked on his journey, a vigilant police officer spotted the truck transporting Munday’s barrel, just upstream from the iconic Horseshoe Falls.

Knowing he couldn’t get to him in time, he radioed over to Ontario Hydro, explaining the situation.

Hydro instantly sprung into action. The power plant engineers lowered the water level by an astonishing five feet (152 cm) in a mere three minutes. This ingenious move trapped Munday in a hydropower pool, effectively stopping his waterfall dreams.

The hydro pool, part of the power plant’s water intake system, became Munday’s unwelcome pitstop. Stranded in the lower waters, Munday, a skydiving instructor, helicopter, and aircraft pilot, could only wait for rescue.

In the spirit of “try try again,” his next two trips would be successful. In a silver and red aluminum barrel, the thrill-seeker became the ninth person to go over the Falls on October 5, 1985. He videotaped the trip and was fined $1,500 for his actions.

His second journey was on August 26, 1993, in a retrofitted diving bell, during which he was knocked unconscious by the plunge and had to be rescued by a Maid of the Mist boat.

So, in essence, Munday owns two Niagara Falls records: the first man to go over twice and the first man to be foiled by a utility company.

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