An independent woman widowed at an early age, Taylor supported herself through various, sometimes creative endeavors. She became a schoolteacher, earning an honors degree through a four year course. Taylor would go on to open her own dancing school in Bay City, Michigan and later a music school in Sault Sainte Marie, also in Michigan.
Taylor’s true claim to fame came on October 24th, 1901 on her 63rd birthday when she became the first person to go over the Niagara Falls in a barrel. Traveling to the edge of the falls in a rowboat, she climbed into the barrel and friends screwed the lid shut. A bicycle tire compress was used to pump air into the barrel and then plugged up with a cork. After the plunge the currents carried the barrel toward the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and rescuers reached her shortly afterward. The stunt was successful with Taylor incurring only a minor injury, a cut on her head. Although she did survive this daredevil stunt, the adventuress did not make her fortune as planned. She did earn money speaking about her experience for a short time but when her manager, Frank Russell ran off with her barrel, most her savings was spent on private investigators attempting to track the barrel down.
In her later years, Taylor posed for photographs in New York City with tourists and sold souvenirs.
Although it never came to be, Taylor talked about attempting the plunge a second time in 1906. She also had plans to write a novel and reenacting her first plunge on screen which was never actually seen.
She supported herself working as a clairvoyant and providing magnetic therapeutic treatments to local residents.
Annie Taylor died on April 29, 1921, aged 82, at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York. She is interred in the "Stunters Section" of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.