Magnetic Hill defies gravity for 85+ years

Posted on October 15, 2021 | By Alexander Chafe  | 0 Comments

Imagine being able to shut off your car and watch as it drives itself uphill. Talk about an ideal way to road trip! On Magnetic Hill in Moncton, N.B. you can do just that. Or at least your mind will think so. What’s actually at work is a natural illusion. 

For over 85 years, Magnetic Hill has attracted visitors to the province, including Pope John Paul II in 1984. The now historic landmark is a significant contributor to the province’s tourism scene and economy. 



One of the first photos published of Magnetic Hill in the Telegraph-Journal’s 1933 news article (Photo credit: Moncton Museum)



Early Tourist Activity  

Local farmers knew of the natural phenomenon since the 1800s. However, the first published account of Magnetic Hill occurred in August 1933. Editor John Bruce and reporters Stuart Trueman and Jack Bayley wrote an article that helped promote Magnetic Hill as a tourist destination for the Telegraph-Journal. 

In the 1930s, commercial activity in the area began thanks to Muriel Lutes and her husband Lou Sikorsky. Muriel rented rooms to tourists in her 1875 home located close to Magnetic Hill, and sold homemade ice cream and buckwheat pancakes from a small shack at the end of her driveway. Credited for starting economic activity related to the now booming tourist attraction, Muriel retired in 1967. Her home is now back in the hands of family. In 1997, Muriel’s nephew, Dale Lutes, purchased the property and moved home to Moncton to open Magnetic Hill Bed and Breakfast with his wife. 



Magnetic Hill Bed and Breakfast, a home previously owned by Muriel Lutes (Photo credit: Magnetic Hill Bed and Breakfast)



Growing Commercial Activity

Over the years, several other commercial opportunities came to life at Magnetic Hill. In 1984, the Magnetic Hill Concert Site was built for one of the area’s most notable visitors, Pope John Paul II. The concert site was originally used for a mass ceremony (one of the largest in Canada) performed by the Pope. In the 1990s music acts started performing on site; past performers include U2, AC/DC, Faith Hill and the Rolling Stones. 

In 1986, Magnetic Hill Fun Zone’s popular water park was built. The largest park in the Maritimes, it has 11 water slides, a lazy river and three pools.  



A sign explaining how to observe the natural phenomenon at Magnetic Hill in the 1940s (Photo credit: Moncton Museum)


The Natural Phenomenon Explained

In 2010, scientist Kokichi Sugihara won an international award for a demonstration that replicated the natural phenomenon of Magnetic Hill. The illusion is known as a gravity hill. Although objects appear to roll upward, the hill is actually on a decline. But, without a horizon as a reference point, the downward slope appears to move objects uphill.

A 2010 CBC article quoted the manager of Magnetic Hill saying: “The secret’s out, but you have to come and experience it.”



Modern photo of Magnetic Hill Signage (Photo credit: Tourism New Brunswick)



Tourism Continues

What was once simply a curious stretch of road, continues to be a major driver of tourism and economic activity for the province. Today, visitors can enjoy a museum, souvenir shop, zoo, amusement park, winery, a nearby spa and much more at Magnetic Hill.

Next time you’re planning a road trip, consider traveling to feel the attraction of this popular tourist destination and all that the area has to offer.

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