2846 Mountain Rd, Moncton, NB E1G 2W7
It is Atlantic Canada’s oldest attraction, the sign says. my mother went sometime in the 60s. The story she told me was about driving down a hill and coming to a complete stop, then you shift the vehicle into neutral and slowly remove your foot from brake. To quote my mom, “The Plymouth just drove backwards up the hill.” Straight-faced with her eyes lit up. She used her hand to represent the car in a backward upward incline, it was pure magic, no explanation.
I did it sometime in the late 80’s – it was on the same trip back home that I stopped at Lepreau Falls. On that occasion, I remember stopping at a booth and a attendant handing me instruction, which I followed. Yes my baby blue Chrysler Reliant slowly moved up the hill at crawl and 30 seconds later I was on top “That was it?” I said to myself, underwhelmed by the experience. With cars lined up behind me to take in the attraction, my experience was over and I had to move on disappointed.
This time my expectations are low but with over an hour till the Magnetic Hill Zoo opens, I have plenty of time to investigate this anomaly. I see a couple of cars parked in a lot behind a shed with colourful buoys hanging off the side. I take the trail on the left towards the duck pond.
The original entrance sign is now an interpretive plaque explaining the history and evolution of the attraction from a fascination, to a brand synominious with family fun with the addition of a waterpark, resort and a zoo. This entire community of Moncton is called Magnetic Hill – it even boasts a winery of the same name.
Once you commit and go through the one-way covered bridge, you have missed the attraction and you have to continue onward all the way to the exit then return on Mountain Road to the entrance and give it another try. It took me two attempts before I finally clued in and went to the left.
The short paved road switchbacks likes a snake to optimize traffic flow in this small area, which tells me they still get lineups of cars wanting to partake in this mystery. I recognized the attendance booth, no one is on duty and I keep going forward. I am the only car here this morning.
I drive down the secluded, tree-lined road and slink my way over into to left lane where a white pole marks the bottom of the hill and the startling line. When I am certain my truck is at a complete stop, I shift into neutral and remove my foot from the brake. My truck takes off like a shot clipping along so fast backwards I can’t look forward to watch what is happening because I am zigzagging and I have to correct my steering. Over the crest I go and apply the brakes before I land in in the ditch or attendant’s booth. It is a jolting, crooked stop. “That was fast!” I sit there and think I need to do it again.
Back to the bottom of the hill I go and line-up at the white post again. The truck slides into neutral and zoom I am off again, clocking way too fast to hold a straight line without looking over my shoulder. “What is going on?” I keep the truck to the middle of the road to avoid landing in the ditch. “One more time.” I head the truck back down the hill. “Perhaps the third time will be the charm.” I will figure out this illusion.
With my brake firmly held down, I shift into neutral and away the truck goes on my third attempt, I hit the brakes twice to slow down my momentum. It feels like my truck is running away downhill, however the slope in front of me is definitely uphill. I crack a smile, I guess that is the whole point. I have not figured out the magnetic hill mystery but I am satisfied I have gotten the full experience of it. It is nearing 10 am and the Lions of Magnetic Hill Zoo, Moncton, NB, Canada await me. Please join me next week on a walkabout through several animal kingdoms.
No payment was received for this post, it is my own experience
Happy Travels from Maritimemac.
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