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Rolling back up the hill


There’s a hill in New Brunswick that has been one of their most popular tourist attractions since the 1930s. It is a freak of nature that boggles the mind as when you park on this hill it is said that you defy gravity by sliding uphill.
While no scientific explanation is needed – the effect has nothing to do with magnetic fields and everything to do with the power of illusion – it is a well-known fact that the Swan Valley has their own version of a magnetic hill but finding someone who knows the actual location is a little trickier.
“I moved to the Valley back in June 1996 and recall hearing about the magnetic hill near Thunder Hill,” said local resident Stephen Tanner. “Although I have been up to Thunder Hill on many occasions I had no idea where the optical illusion was located.
“Recently, Swan Valley RISE organized a hiking group and our first hike was planned for the Tread the Thunder trails, located on Thunder Hill. When the group gathered for our first hike, Stan Anderson happened to be in the area and when he heard where we were going he mentioned the magnetic hill.”
Tanner said that Anderson described the location, citing that as you approach Thunder Hill, heading west on P.R. No. 487, there is a dip in the road just past a yellow left turning sign. If you stop at the bottom of the dip in the road and place the vehicle in neutral, your vehicle will move back up the dip as if being pulled by a magnet.
“I had heard of the famous magnetic hill in New Brunswick and was excited to finally try out our local version,” said Tanner.
“The dip in the road was easy to find as there is only the one yellow turn sign as you approach the hill. We drove down the dip in the road, approximately 50 to 100 feet, and skeptically placed the vehicle in neutral.
“To my delight, the vehicle began moving back up the dip we had just driven down,” he continued. “Eventually I had to break to stop the car from continuing.
“I know the vehicle wasn’t actually being pulled up a hill by a magnet and that we were actually going downhill, but the landscape creates an optical illusion that tricks your mind into thinking you are going uphill (in reverse).”
Tanner added that what really is happening becomes very clear when you drive down from Thunder Hill and you can see the dip is really going downhill along with the rest of the road.
“It is worth experiencing if you are ever in the area,” he said. “Just be sure you are alone on the road and it is safe to backup in your lane.”
Local groups focusing on tourism like SV RISE and the Swan Valley Chamber of Commerce have been long working to get signage put into place to make the spot easier for visitors to find.
“The barriers in the past have been getting permission to get the signs put up,” said Chamber Executive Coordinator Stacy Grindle. “SV RISE is currently applying to get some grant funds for tourism signage in general and that is one of the locations we would like to finally get marked.”