top of page

Survives Falls in a Barrel, Dies by Orange Peel: The Story of Bobby Leach

Niagara Falls, known for its sheer beauty and its unparalleled power, is a magnet for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. However, few stories associated with the falls are as captivating or ironic as that of the man who took the plunge in a barrel and lived to tell the tale - only to meet his end in the most unlikely of ways.

Niagara Falls Bobby Leach steel barrel orange peel

Bobby Leach was not a stranger to daring exploits. This British daredevil was the second person to go over the Niagara Falls in a barrel, after Annie Taylor, and the first man to take up the daunting task. He made his dramatic plunge on July 25, 1911, in a specially designed steel barrel that he hoped would allow him to survive the 167-foot drop.

Although he sustained injuries - including two broken kneecaps and a fractured jaw - he survived this heart-stopping ordeal and spent several months recovering in the hospital.

Post recovery, he made a living by recounting his adventure and displaying his barrel across various venues in the United States, Canada, and England. This event, fraught with danger, was expected to be the most life-threatening experience he would face. However, it turned out to be a more benign occurrence that ultimately led to his untimely death.

Ironically, after surviving such a treacherous feat, it was a mere orange peel that caused Bobby Leach's downfall. In 1926, while strolling through the streets of Auckland, New Zealand, Leach slipped on an orange peel, leading to a badly fractured leg.

This seemingly insignificant injury, compared to his falls exploit, took a grim turn as complications set in and his leg had to be amputated. Tragically, just two months later, he succumbed to complications arising from this surgery.

Today, Bobby Leach's story remains one of the most fascinating and ironic tales related to Niagara Falls. His bold plunge over the falls was the very definition of danger, yet his demise came from the smallest of accidents, serving as a poignant reminder that life can be as unpredictable as the thunderous falls he dared to conquer. Despite his undoing by an orange peel, Bobby Leach will forever be remembered as a daredevil who conquered Niagara Falls a barrel.

bottom of page