Magnetic Hill, New Brunswick

Magnetic Hill near Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada is what is known as a gravity hill. It all started when someone was pulling a cart and stopped at what they thought was the bottom of the hill and felt the cart begin rolling upward.

"Bring Out Your Dead!" Guy on left is NOT dead yet!
Yes, this exact kind of cart. Seriously this whole post
served as a reason to use this photo. [photo: Gareth Payne]

Naturally, back then, it was thought to be supernatural, the work of witches who turned people into newts. Now we know better. Now we get in our cars, drive to the 'bottom' of the hill, put the car in neutral and experience the same mind bending force pulling us in the opposite direction of where our senses tell us we should be going. This is the result of an optical illusion and it's best seen in person rather than in pictures. This last thing is the reason I've been struggling with this post. Gravity hills and their ability to trick the eye cannot be captured in still pictures.

Magnetic Hill, New Brunswick

The above picture is capturing a lot more than the hill itself. The gravity hill is the unpaved road just above the black border that has been inset into the picture. The rest of this patch of New Brunswick is an amusement park devoted to tourism. It even has its own zoo and recently had its own experience with a monkey being liberated from its confinement, something that seems to be happening everywhere, only in this case it was stolen. It was still a miserable SOB. [Please remember this if you're going to free monkeys from captivity or acquire one as a pet. They're wild animals and they are omnivorous and while you may see them as distant cousins, they see you as meat bags. Let's just leave them in the wild where they belong. Sorry, I've digressed again. Curse you Magnetic Hill post!!!]

Gravity hills are fairly common and occur where the level horizon is hidden in some way. Trees, walls and things that normally act as a visual clue may be leaning slightly. We expect such things to be straight and so we are fooled. An optical illusion makes a downhill appear to be an uphill. But seeing is believing, so even when you know the cause, you still can't help but think that when you're rolling uphill, you're actually rolling downhill.

The Magnetic Hill Winery with a distinct lean. That's the way it is around these parts

What I noticed when driving around the area of the province where Magnetic Hill is, is that the buildings all look like they're leaning. So whatever optical illusion contributes to the hill, is also affecting the surrounding area to a large degree. The houses on the surrounding hillside clearly appear to be leaning. It's alien and surreal. 

Of course you can't pass by the place without trying the hill and it's interesting but a little anti-climatic. The advertisements exaggerate the hill's incline - can you believe it?! - and so when you start rolling it's a gentle kind of thing in reality. Which is fine, the illusion is still starkly observable, regardless, and that's the whole point.

Magnetic hills have no actual magnetic or supernatural force influencing the illusion. Don't believe it if you see it advertised. No humans, newts or ducks are harmed in the enjoyment of gravity hills. Well, maybe a duck. Once.

Magnetic Hill, Moncton, New Brunswick website here

List of Magnetic Hills around the world here

Here is the best video I could find showing you the hill effect. Why they make you roll up the hill backwards is unfathomable. Yes, I'm sorry, I see the Book of Mormon reflected in the window. Upside: this video is totally safe for work!


kuschk said...

There's a magnetic hill not far from here just outside Vernon. Anticlimactic to say the least.

Angie said...

I have one, too. Shullsburg, WI, about 20 miles away.


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