The tragic history of people at Niagara Falls

Maybe a good way to cleanse our collective palate of dark and depressing human deaths is with one of the most ridiculous Niagara Falls stories imaginable. Settle in for the story of the schooner Michigan.

In 1827, a hotel owner named William Forsyth teamed with some of the hotel owners in the Niagara Falls area in an attempt to drum up some business. Like anyone, they wanted to find new and creative ways to generate some buzz and make a little more cash. And like so many businessmen, they settled on what they deemed a brilliant publicity stunt. They had Niagara Falls at their disposal, and everyone likes to watch things crash and burn, right? So clearly, their only course of action would be to purchase a schooner, set it loose with a fairly random selection of local animals aboard, and watch it plunge over the falls.

Thousands of people turned out to watch as the Michigan was set adrift. Two bears had been placed aboard, but they wisely decided to abandon ship, swimming safely to shore before the boat could reach the precipice. Unfortunately, things weren't so rosy for the other animals, including a buffalo, which had been locked in a pen on board with no hopes of escaping. Raccoons, foxes, and geese were also on board. Of all the animals that actually went over Niagara Falls that day as the Michigan fell to its destruction, only the geese survived. It really just hammers home the idea that if some lunatic hotel owner wants to drop you a couple hundred feet over a waterfall, it's a good idea to go ahead and get yourself some wings.

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