Even more impressive than the stilt-walking feats of Sylvain Dornon were those of Jean François Gravelet, aka Charles Blondin, the greatest funambulist of his generation. In 1859, Blondin became the first man to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope — a distance of a quarter of a mile, suspended some 160 feet above the water. He repeated the feat 17 times, each crossing more daring than the last. He walked across the falls blindfolded, in a sack, carrying a a stove, pushing a wheelbarrow, and once even did it with a man on his back. Finally, on September 14, 1860, he crossed on a pair of stilts. Blondin died at age 73, in his bed.
Thanks to Kircher Society for this post!