Monday, June 17, 2024

These Falls Reverse

Dorothy, Rain & Patrick
To be clear, the Reversing Falls does reverse, but we didn't fully experience this unique event 
in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on our May road trip.

However, it's where we did have a great experience — a first-time meet-up with a fellow blogger Rain. As it happened, this was a first-time visit for all 3 of us. We met at the falls restaurant for conversation, refreshments and great views.

Of course if we had waited just longer, we might have seen this natural wonder in its totality, but time didn't allow that day. And, we would not be going by this area again on our road trip. Still, we saw at least a part of this daily event. While there, we read about the falls, watched a video, then walked on the Skywalk and watched the falls coming from the Bay of Fundy into the Saint John River.
The extended area from the restaurant at the falls is the skywalk area.
Us on the Skywalk at Reversing Falls

What are the Reversing Falls?
The Reversing Falls are a series of rapids on the Saint John River located in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, where the river runs through a narrow gorge before emptying into the Bay of Fundy. The semidiurnal tides (two high and two low tides of about equal size every lunar day) of the bay force the flow of water to reverse against the prevailing current when the tide is high. The rapids or "falls” are created by a series of underwater ledges which roil the water in either direction. This can cause a significant navigation hazard. Vessels can only enter or exit from the river at slack tide.
The Reversing Falls Rapids are created by the daily collision of the Bay of Fundy and the Saint John River. At different points in the tide cycle, there are three distinct interactions between these bodies of water.

At low tide the river empties into the bay causing a series of rapids and whirlpools. As tides rise they slow the river current for a brief period, slack tide. The Bay's tides continue to rise, gradually reversing the flow of the river; rapids form again, peaking at high tide. 

Slack tide generally is only 20 minutes and occurs when the Bay of Fundy waters begin to rise and slow the river's flow, eventually stopping it completely. This is the only time that sail boats and pleasure crafts can sail between the bay and the river.

At high tide, the Bay of Fundy tide continues to rise, gradually reversing the flow of the river, and rapids form again, peaking at high tide.

A full tide cycle takes 12 hours, 25 minutes. From high to low tide takes 6 hours, 13 minutes.

Now a tourist destination, the Reversing Falls have been an important industrial site for over a century. The Canadian Pacific Railway constructed the Reversing Falls Railway Bridge in 1885. This structure was replaced in 1922 and is now used by the New Brunswick Southern Railway. The railway bridge crosses the gorge immediately downstream from the falls, parallel to the Reversing Falls Road Bridge.
Irving Pulp & Paper, New Brunswick, Canada
The location of the falls was the site of a foundry and other light industrial operations on the east side of the gorge The large Irving Pulp & Paper Limited mill is on the west side. 
The paper company which has operated the pulp mill since purchasing it in the late 1940s, has encountered criticism for maintaining the facility at what is seen as one of Saint John's prime tourism spots. 

This criticism was most voiced in the 1980s and 1990s when the city government created Fallsview Park on former industrial foundry lands on the east side of the gorge. The park lookouts are considered a prime viewing location for the Reversing Falls Rapids. Unlike the Skywalk there's no cost to visit this park and use the lookouts.. 

Years ago, a popular travel book labelled the Reversing Falls with the distinction as being among the worst tourist attractions in the world. Admittedly, that does seem rather extreme. As we know from personal experience, reviews are subject to opinion and often even a bad review can attract more folks than not. In reading a number of online reviews from others who have also visited the falls, that review seems not to have deterred any.

Even though we didn't view the complete transformation, we enjoyed our visit. As the main purpose was a blogger meetup, this natural phenomena was an added bonus.

Since returning home, I've watched several online videos to see the full Reversing Falls effect. This drone video by Jesse Sullivan (only background music) is interesting if you are included to watch it. Total playing time is a bit over 7 minutes.

By the way, we did see a moose at the falls, luckily it wasn't on the roadways. This one was captive in the restaurant lodge area.
The Reversing Falls weren't the only natural wonder we experienced in Saint John, New Brunswick. A future post will show how it's possible to walk on the ocean floor, of course, at low tide. 


Tom said...

...I hope that I will be able to see a real moose before I leave this place.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

If ever you return to New Brunswick I would highly recommend experiencing the full tides at the Bay of Fundy, a truly remarkable natural phenomenon.

Bijoux said...

I’ve never heard of that. I’m glad you got to experience a bit of it while meeting a fellow blogger.

kathyinozarks said...

Good morning, this was so interesting to read about, was not familiar with this. awesome you got to meet up with Rain

Barbara Rogers said...

What a good time, meeting another blogger as well as seeing a natural phenomena! Yes, I know paper mills do detract from a scenic view, but they are going quickly by the wayside, due to no demand for printed newspapers daily.

MadSnapper said...

i find it odd I have lived so long without ever hearing of this place not about the tides or even the names of the places. Very interesting about them coming together. sorry you missed it. maybe next time

Anvilcloud said...

I can't remember if we saw it more then twenty years ago, but if we did there wasn't a center like this. I do have a vague memory of Magnetic Hill.

Sandra said...

Well, I learned something new today. I bet you had a wonderful time there.

Linda P said...

A great place to visit and meet up with a fellow blogger. I'm sure the whirl pools and the river were spectacular sights.

Marie Smith said...

We haven’t spent a lot of time in NB but we love what we’ve seen too.

Emma Springfield said...

How interesting. You do visit some of the best places.

David said...

Hi Beatrice, We've been to St. John's 3 times and I also visited the city with my parents while on a road trip way back in 1951. Back then the industrial stench was quite strong...with that papermill the major contributor. In 1951 there were still some derelict sailing vessels in the harbor that I still treasure today. On the positive side, about 35 years ago we did see the reversing waterfall. Also, after a 14 hour drive from northern PA on the same trip, we were so happy to finally arrive after dark, finding an A&W open...about the only thing open...and having a burger. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Ginny Hartzler said...

You find the most interesting and unusual things. WHY have I never heard of this?? What a great adventure! And I'm happy to see YOU, as well! I think Bloggers don't post pics of themselves enough.

Linda G. said...

I was not familiar with this tourist site. Nice picture of the three of you.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

How wonderful that you were able to meet another blogging friend and have a nice visit, even if you didn't get to see the full effect of the reversing falls. I've never heard of that before, and I am sure it would be fun to watch. I have, however, seen a real moose while living in NH and Maine. They are amazingly huge creatures, and can be quite scary if you encounter one on the roads, especially at night, as they are very hard to see in the dark and are the cause of many serious accidents. I have some fun stories about going on moose "hunts" to see if we could see one in the wild. Maybe for a post sometime I will talk about our moose encounters. No chance of seeing them here in Florida now, however. Just occasional deer crossing the road, and if we venture a little further south of us to the forest, we see bears occasionally too. But no moose. Maybe that's a good thing. I enjoyed your post and the story about the falls. You do see the most interesting places.

Rita said...

Nice you had a blogger meet-up! Hadn't heard of this, either. Watched the video. Hard for me to tell what I was watching other than violently churny water that was quite mesmerizing. :)

photowannabe said...

How fascinating. I have heard of this but never understood the actions. Thanks for the information.
I think this would be on my "bucket List" for sure.

My name is Erika. said...

This sounds interesting, especially since slack tide there is when waters start to rise. Everyplace else slack tide is right between high and low tide when the tide is not moving. I think it must be all that water flowing into such a narrow opening. And cool you were able to meet with Rain. I hope you share more of your trip. It's always fun to read about new places. hugs-Erika

Debby said...

That is pretty cool! I've never heard of this!

gigi-hawaii said...

Nice to see you with Rain. I follow her blog, too. As for Reversing Falls, wow, I never heard of it until now. I would love to see it.

Jenny Woolf said...

It's always nice to meet up with a blogging friend, and I'm glad it was such a good trip! The Reversing Falls sound very interesting, and I wouldn't be put off by a bad review at all. I don't mind the look of the paper works ... Niagara also has industrial surroundings and my view is always "it is what it is." I was terrified when I first saw a moose head on a wall in Canada. I had no idea they were so huge. I was just about to go camping during moose rutting season for one night. I didn't have a very good night just in case a passing moose took exception to my tent! !!

Jeanie said...

This looks like a fun and fascinating trip and the falls sound so interesting. Pity you missed the reverse but still pretty good as it is! And best of all, you got to meet Rain!

baili said...

wow many heartfelt thanks for this beautiful beautiful post dear Dorothy my friend !

i so enjoyed each bit of it ,falls are falls one of the most fascinating place to visit for me and i loved how you could spend some quality time there :)
place looks divine and thanks for sharing how it came into being .sorry i could not get what is the point of who criticize the place .
amazing you could meet Rain :) she is wonderful blogger friend and i bet you guys had lovely time together :)

special thanks for the link so i could see how majestic and magical event takes place !
best wishes for both of you for future trips !