Blondin-WW

The most famous of Niagara’s daredevils was Jean Francois Gravelot; better know as “The Great Blondin”. He was born February 28th 1824 in St. Omer, Pas de Calais in Northern France.

Blondin first came to Niagara in early 1858 and instantly became obsessed with crossing the Niagara River on a tightrope. On June 30 1859, Blondin successfully walked across the river on a tight rope. During the summer of 1859, he completed eight additional crossings. His most difficult crossing occurred on August 14 when he carried his manager Harry Colcord on his back.

For the crossing, Blondin used a 335 metre long with an 8 centimetre diameter manila rope. The rope stretched from the current site of Prospect Park in Niagara Falls, New York to the current site of Oakes Garden in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He began on the American side and completed his crossing in 20 minutes. Blondin used a 40 pound, 9 metre long balancing pole.

During the summer of 1860, Blondin returned to Niagara for a second successful year of tight rope walking across the Niagara River for hundreds of thousands of sightseers. One of his acts included pushing a wheelbarrow along as he crossed. On September 8th 1860, Blondin completed his final tight rope crossing of the Niagara River. Others followed in the absence of Blondin but none was more daring or famous.

A fine article on Blondin can be found in the Smithsonian Magazine.

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No. 125. Niagara. Blondin on the Tight Rope.

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Blondin on the high wire.

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Blondin on the high wire.

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Blondin on the high wire at the Crystal Palace, London, 1861.

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Blondin on the high wire at the Crystal Palace, London, 1861.

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No. 151. Blondin’s Tight-rope feat. Spectators viewing his Performance.

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No. 151. Blondin’s Tight-rope feat. Spectators viewing his Performance.

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No. 137. Blondin’s Tight-Rope feat: Crossing the Niagara River.

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No. 137. Blondin’s Tight-Rope feat: Crossing the Niagara River.

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Blondin’s Tight-Rope feat: Crossing the Niagara River.

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137. Blondin’s Tight Rope Feat.

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No. 137. Blondin’s Tight Rope feat: Crossing the Niagara River.

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No. 137. Blondin’s Tight Rope feat: Crossing the Niagara River.

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No. 137. Blondin’s Tight Rope feat: Crossing the Niagara River.

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Railway Suspension Bridge. M. Blondin in the daring act of ascending one of the wires that secures the bridge, preparatory to crossing over it on the tight wire, and other wonderful feats.

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Blondin on the high wire. Image is mounted with an incorrect verso.

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No. 35. Niagara Suspension Bridge. Blondin’s wire is in the foreground and crowds of spectators are on the bridge.

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View at Niagara Falls, with Blondin’s Rope; and Suspension Bridge, with a train of cars upon it. No. 64. There are also spectators on the bridge.

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Blondin, 1860.

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Blondin reading newspaper on high wire.

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Blondin carrying his manager on his back on the high wire.

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Blondin crossing Niagara River.

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Blondin on the high wire.

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383. Blondin’s Rope Ascension over Niagara River.

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53. Blondin on his Rope.

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Blondin’s Rope across the Niagara River.

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A la Blondin.

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A la Blondin.

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A la Blondin.

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Blondin on the High Wire.

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Blondin with Woman in Wheelbarrow in studio pose.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 2.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 1.

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Rope Ascension over Niagara River.

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No. 19. Blondin’s Rope Ascension over Niagara River.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 8.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 7.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 9.

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Blondin crossing Niagara with his manager on his back.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 11.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 6.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 16.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 15.

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Blondin on the Rope.

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No. 55. Blondin on his Rope.

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Blondin’s Rope Ascension over the Niagara River, No. 2.

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No. 29. Rapids below Suspension Bridge. Blondin’s wire is in the foreground.

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No. 54. Blondin carrying man on his back.

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Blondin on the high wire.

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Rope Ascension over Niagara River.

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