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'He needed you to bet that he was going to die.' Meet the waterfall daredevil of the Northwest.

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Courtey of Guy Faussett
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Al Faussett, on the right, preparing to go down Eagle Falls on the Skykomish River on September 6, 1926.

 

Back in the 1920s, a career as a “daredevil” was not unheard of. Newsreels showed people dancing on top of skyscrapers and balancing on the wings of airplanes. At the age of 46, Al Faussett from Monroe, Washington, decided that being a daredevil would be his next career.

 

“Al’s wife had had enough of him and promptly divorced him when he decided his career was going to change and he was going to become a daredevil,” said Guy Faussett, Al’s great-grandson.

 

Faussett was a slim man with a head full of hair and a face that was creased from many hours of working out in the sun with horses and cattle. His work varied. He had been a logger, he dabbled in real estate and he earned extra money racing horses in town.

 

He was set on going over waterfalls.

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Credit Courtesy of Guy Faussett.
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A chute built for the Silver Creek Falls stunt on July 1, 1928 near Silverton, Oregon.

 

On May 30, 1926, Al Faussett hauled a dug out boat to Sunset Falls, on the South Fork of the Skykomish River in eastern Snohomish County. He went down this 104-foot watery death trap, as a test.

 

He survived.

 

Those few seconds of terror earned him more than $1,000 from the spectators lining the rocky riverbank.

 

“When you came and paid him a dollar to watch him to go over the falls, he had set up betting booths on the property and he needed you to come and bet that he would not survive this," Guy Faussett said. "Because that’s how he made his money. He needed you to bet that he was going to die.”

 

 

In this story we learn about the brief — but incredible — daredevil career of Al Faussett, who cheated death to earn a paycheck many times over.

 

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.