The year was 1859 and, on this date in history, Emile Blondin took to the rope up to 270 feet above Niagara and for 1100 feet walked across from one side to the other. His real name was Jean-Francois Gravelet and he was born in France. He saw his first tightrope act in France at the age of 5. He supposedly came right home and set up a rope with some chairs and began practicing. His father was a gymnast and helped him. After just 6 months, he was performing. Somehow he became an orphan and so he ran and joined the circus at age 9. One source I have found says that 5,000 people watched him do this first stunt on a two inch wide rope and another claims 100,000 on a 3 inch rope. So, who knows? A lot of locals didn’t want him to do the stunt because they thought it would turn the lovely falls into the backdrop for a circus type atmosphere. Much to their chagrin, the first walk was to successful, Blondin did it many more times with variations.
He did it blindfolded, with a man on his back, in a gorilla suit while pushing a wheelbarrow and he even wowed the crowds by taking photos of them while on the rope, which I am trying to fathom giving the size of photographic equipment in the 19th century…I’m not sure if I’m buyin’ that. It is also said that he cooked an omelet over the falls. Other sources confirm this and one even says that he crossed Niagara on stilts! I’m tryin to figure those two out too. In all, he crossed Niagara 16 times and performed other walks all around the world. His final performance was at age 68. He died at 73 a very wealthy man. Source suggest that he made $500 a performance but he had to have made more than that at the end of his career as his earnings for his final two years was about $400,000. In 2007, dollars, that would be $9.12 million.
So, why in the world would anyone want to do such a silly thing? I mean…what does it prove? What does it say about you? Well, apparently someone thought it was worth while because the practice goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. If you have some time, check out this website…The Blondin Memorial Trust.
Our weather will be influenced through Monday by an upper low with cold air aloft that will produce a few showers through he first part of the day on Monday. I think that it will move far enough east as trof moves through to take the rain activity to the east by Monday afternoon. Tuesday looks fabulous with lows for some people in the 50’s to start July. Lots of sun through Wednesday then Thursday we heat up and humidity returns as a front approaches and brings a chance for t’storms. The front then gets hung up to our south making it a bit unsettled for the Fourth of July Weekend. The ECMWF keeps the front just to our north…which would still mean a risk for scattered storms throughout the period…so choose your poison. The boys at the SPC don’t think much yet of severe chances for Thursday, but I bet they change their mind. Here was Sunday’s map of Day 4 and the discussion pertaining to the Ohio Valley for Thursday.
STRONG KINEMATIC ENVIRONMENT WILL DEVELOP EWD THROUGH THE NERN
STATES IN ASSOCIATION WITH EWD ADVANCING UPPER TROUGH. STORMS WILL
LIKELY DEVELOP IN THIS REGION DURING THE DAY AND EXPAND EWD. THOUGH
SOME SEVERE STORMS ARE POSSIBLE…CONFIDENCE IS NOT HIGH ENOUGH AT
THIS TIME TO INTRODUCE A RISK AREA DUE TO CONCERNS ABOUT DEGREE OF
INSTABILITY. HOWEVER…A RISK AREA MAY NEED TO BE INTRODUCED IN
OTHER STORMS WILL LIKELY DEVELOP ALONG FRONT OVER PARTS OF THE OH
VALLEY…BUT IT APPEARS WARM SECTOR WILL HAVE BEEN SHIFTED SOUTH OF
THE STRONGER FLOW ALOFT. THE THERMODYNAMIC ENVIRONMENT MAY BECOME
SUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A FEW SEVERE STORMS…BUT CONFIDENCE IN AN
ORGANIZED SEVERE EVENT IS NOT HIGH ENOUGH TO INTRODUCE A RISK AREA
AT THIS TIME.