Collection Facts

Extent: 
13 items
Dates of Original: 
1885 - 1905; 1920 - 1933; 1860 - 1880
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

For over 100 years, Niagara Falls has drawn daredevils to brave the rapids. People have gone over Niagara Falls in barrels, swam across the Niagara River, navigated the rapids in a boat and walked over on a tightrope. Women and men have sought fame and fortune; others needed to challenge themselves against the harshest conditions that could be found in nature. What makes Niagara Falls’ daredevils unique is the combination of “people vs. nature” mentality and a circus-like atmosphere that brought tourists from far and wide.
Orrin E. Dunlap (1861-1953) was a photographer and writer based in Niagara Falls who offered a unique perspective on the daredevils of Niagara Falls. Dunlap was also the managing editor for the Niagara Falls Gazette from 1890-1895. This collection includes both his own and other photographer’s images. It consists of 189 photographs and offers a rare view of these daredevils.
The manuscripts digitized in this collection represent only a small portion of the library's holdings. Dunlap’s writings about Niagara Falls daredevils were published in the Niagara Falls Gazette as well as other newspapers, magazines and books.

Scope of Collection

Daredevils of Niagara - Photos & writing from the Orrin E. Dunlap Collection is a collection of photographs and manuscripts. The collection also includes: advertisements, articles, legal documents, ephemera, and a rare book on Monsieur Blondin. The daredevils pictured include: Charles Blondin, Annie Edson Taylor, Bobby Leach, Walter G. Campbell, William Kondrat, Charles Alexander Percy, Clifford Calverly, Charles G. Stephens, William (Red) Hill Sr., and Carlisle Graham, among others. Most of the collection dates to the late 19th century and early 20th century.