The Great Blondin, First Tightrope Walker to Cross Niagara Falls
Jean Francois Gravelot (The Great Blondin) Amazed Crowds with Tightrope Feats
On June 30, 1859, at 5 pm, Blondin made his first journey across theFalls. He wore a dark wig, a vest of purple plush and a pair of white Turkish pantaloons. For this crossing, Blondin utilized a 1,300 foot long , 3 inch diameter manila rope stretched from what is now Prospect Park in Niagara Falls, New York to what is now Oakes Garden in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
He began his first walk from the American side and completed his crossing in 20 minutes. Blondin used a thirty-foot long balancing pole that weighed 40 pounds. He stepped onto the tightrope and started his long descent down the cable, which, at midpoint, was fifty feet lower over the gorge. There he stopped, dropped a bottle tied a piece of twine into the Maid of the Mist tourist boat below, hauled up some Niagara River water, drank it, and resumed his journey, uphill this time. He arrived on the far bank triumphant, though bathed in sweat. He rested briefly, accepted a glass of champagne, performed a little dance on the rope, and walked back across in just eight minutes. The appeal of the event rested on the crowd’s secret delight in the possibility that Blondin would fall.
For two summers, Blondin performed above the Niagara. During his subsequent performances, he crossed the Falls on a bicycle, on stilts, and at night. He swung by one arm, turned somersaults, and stood on his head on a chair. Once he pushed a stove in a wheelbarrow across and afterward asked reporter, who had covered many of his walks,
"Do you think I can cross the falls?"
"Of course!" said the reporter
"Are you sure?" said Blondin
"Yes, I know you can do it." said the reporter
"What about me pushing a wheelbarrow across?" said Blondin
"Of course you can, I just saw you do it." said the reporter
"Is there any doubt in your mind as to my ability to cross the falls safely?" said Blondin
"You are the Great Blondin, I have seen you cross the falls many times and there is no doubt in my mind that you are fully capable of crossing the falls safely with the wheelbarrow." said the reporter.
"Good!" said Blondin "Now get in the wheelbarrow!"
How many times has God showed us that he is fully capable, all powerful and totally in control yet when he asks us to get in his wheelbarrow and let him take us to new heights, we run in fear?