Follow The Bouncing Ball...
The year, 1928, saw another of Niagara’s daredevils attempt to cheat death by tumbling over the mighty cataract. Jean Albert Lussier, then 34 years old, was a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts. He had fantasized about his adventure for twenty years, when at age 14, he saw Lobby Leach go over the falls in a steel barrel.
Lussier is one of the few men or women who attempted the feat and came out alive. His plan was an adaptation of Leach’s trick that would utilize a rubber ball, instead of a steel barrel. Lussier constructed a 758-pound steel reinforced, rubber barrel. His first plan called for an airplane to drop the ball into the Niagara River above the falls, but after having second thoughts, he decided to have a motorboat tow the ball into the river. The ball began its descent by rolling and bouncing through the upper rapids and eventually, rolling over the Horseshoe Falls. Lussier, tethered inside the ball, went over the falls headfirst. Those who witnessed the drop said the ball bounced up and down at the base of the falls as if it were bouncing on a sidewalk. A short time later, the ball was reclaimed below the precipice. Once ripped open, Lussier exited the ball, smiling. One hundred thousand people watched the stunt and Lussier’s reappearance was greeted with shouts and cheers of acclamation.
Lussier, although he had several large bumps and bruises, was not the worse for wear. He explained, “ I have spent more than a year and more than $7,000 on my venture. I have succeeded and I am happy. I could do it again, but once is plenty for me.”
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094