Clio Logo

Soon offers came from all around the world from those interested to see Sam Patch jump from high falls though he never left Western New York to pursue the opportunities. He instead traveled to Rochester where he was invited to jump the Genesee Falls.


  • Modern-day photo of High Falls, where Sam Patch performed his final jump that lead to his death.

In October of 1829, he appeared at the top of “High Falls” ready to jump only a 90 feet plunge, something that was seen as easy for him considering his track record. Before his jump, he threw his pet bear. The bear, which had become a favorite part of his act, emerged alive serving as a sign to Patch that the leap would be safe. Standing above the churning waters of the Genesee Falls, Patch leaped into the chasm. Onlookers wondered if he lived after the first jump. Several minutes passed before anyone saw Patch emerge from behind the falls but after ten minutes Patch appeared to an uproarious crowd. 

Sam Patch should have given up on Rochester, moved and saw other falls… maybe he would have lived past the age of 29. However, he decided to once again attempt a jump into the Genesee River. Before the jump, many claimed Patch had entered into the wrong crowd and began heavily drinking. Others believed that the new platform used for the jump that sat ten feet higher than the previous one might have contributed to his death.

Patch started with a speech, not unlike other leaps, and then once again threw his pet bear in, who successfully survived the jump. Sam Patch was not as lucky, spectators at the time claimed he stumbled or fell while others said his dive was as immaculate as the other. People waited for him to arise from the water, hoping it was apart of the act but his body did not emerge for quite some time. 

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

Johnathan, Croyle. "1829: Sam Patch, America's First Daredevil, Meets a Sad, Violent End in Rochester." Newyorkupstate.com. November 16, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2019. 

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