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Patch soon moved to New Jersey after hearing about employment opportunities. Not long after he arrived, he soon began to continue his leaping. Patch’s first real significant jump was over a ledge in the Passaic Falls, which was over 80 feet tall, in September of 1827. Only in a shirt and underwear, Patch jumped into the river as a nobody but emerged as a somebody.


  • Modern-day photo of the Great Falls at the Passaic River.
  • A historical photo of the falls from the book "Sam Patch, The Famous Jumper" by Paul E. Johnson.

Sam Patch, born in 1807 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, became the first known recorded daredevil in history. Despite his notoriety later in life, Sam Patch was not always in the business of taking risks. He originally worked in New England traveling from mill to mill in order to find work in a rapidly industrializing economy. He even attempted to start his own mill business, but these challenges appeared too daunting for the mill hand.

Sam Patch made a second jump from this location due to his anger to Timothy Crane, who was a business changing the social economic status of places like Paterson, New Jersey. Crane planned to build a bridge over the falls, and Patch committed to ruining Crane's opening day. 
Rumor had it that Crane had Patch locked up in a basement, but unbeknown to him, Patch was let free. So instead of applause at his opening of the bridge, he was meant with shouts as Patch was standing at the South bank of the falls. He apparently said words to the people around him, and then leaped the "straight seventy-foot drop" into the water below him. 

Ella, Morton. "America's First Professional Daredevil Leapt Over Niagara Falls-Twice." Atlas Obscura. June 09, 2016. Accessed April 10, 2019. 

Paul E., Johnson. Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003.