Maria Spelterini

Stereoscopic image of Maria Spelterini Crossing Niagara Falls, 1876. Photographed by George Curtis. Science Source / New York Public Library

Italian tightrope walker Maria Spelterini became the first and only woman to cross the Niagara gorge on a tightrope. Her first crossing was on July 8, 1876 as part of a U.S. Centennial celebration, and crossed again on July 12th, 19th, and 22nd, backwards with a paper bag over her head and wearing peach baskets on her feet, blindfolded, and with her ankles and wrists manacled respectively.