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Grand Falls Genealogy Club
Bibliothèque Publique de Grand-Sault
200 rue Pleasant
Grand-Sault NB 

Tree Arbre
Grand Falls Public Library
200 Pleasant street
Grand Falls NB
 Club de Généalogie de Grand-Sault
Early descriptions of the Falls
Descriptions des chutes à travers l'histoire

Below are early descriptions of the falls as documented in various publications. They are presented here as close to the original as possible.
No translations have been made, as they would not do them justice.
Vous trouverez plus bas quelques descriptions des chutes telles qu'elles apparaissent dans des publications variées. Elles sont présentés ici sans modification. Nous n'en avons pas fait la traduction,  puisque ces dernières ne leurs auraient pas rendu justice.

Monseigneur de Saint Vallier, Évêque de Québec, 1686
Description des chutes telles que vues par Monseigneur de Saint Vallier, Evêque de Quebec(Jean-Baptiste de La Croix de Chevrières de Saint-Vallier). lors de son passage en 1686. La description est parue dans "Estats présents de l'Eglise et de la colonie Française dans la nouvelle France"  Publié en France en 1688 et par la suite en1856 à Quebec

Desc. Mgr de Saint-Vallier

Lieutenant Adam Allan 1798
Lieut. Adam Allan, Stationed at the Military post  at the Grand Falls in 1798 wrote the following poetic description of the falls which was annexed to his translation of .

           A Pastoral Comedy
    Originally Written in the Scotch Dialect by Allan Ramsay.
        Reduced to English by
        Lieutenant Adam Allan
    To which is Annexed a Description of the Great Falls of the
    River St. John, in the Province of New Brunswick.


               By A. ALLAN, ESQ. 1798.

        Yes, "the commanding muse my chariot guides,
         "Which o'er the dubious cliff securely rides.
        "And pleased I am no beaten road to take,
        "But first the way to new discovries make."
        A placid river, gliding easy on
        To its dire Fall o'er a huge bed of stone:
        Into an abyss,--dreadful!--even to thought,
        Where caves, immense by whirlpools, are wrought,
        And where huge trees, by annual freshets brought,
        Are by incessant motion ground to nought.
        See, where obstruction checks the torrent's way,
        The parts announced by a vast mount of spray
        Where, as the sun its daily course pursues,
        Reflects an arch of the most beauteous hues;
        Combining elegance, with scenes of horror,
        Delight, and wonder, with most awful terror.

        From this dread gulph of never-ending noise,
        Resembling that where devils but rejoice,
        The waters rush, like lava from the pits,
        Of fam'd Vesuvius, and Mount AEtna's lips;
        Foaming with rage, it forward presses on
        From fall to fall, o'er vertegated stone;
        'Tween banks stupenduous! seeming to the eye
        An eagle's flight, when tow'ring to the sky.
        This wond'rous charm takes the crescent form,
        The better its rude majesty to 'dorn;
        So that, where're you ramble for a view,
        Each change of station shews you something new;
        Verse colours faintly when restrained from fiction,
        Truth, here alone, has governed this description.

        Now on the wings of fancy let me rove,
        To paint the Falls* and margin of the grove,
        In depth of winter,--when the River's bound,
        And op'nings rarely but at falls are found.

        How changed the scene!--each horror now is fled,
        And frost's chill hand enchanting prospects made:
        Now every tree with ice is spangled oe'r,
        And every rock is crystall'd on the shore;
        The fall, too, now most gorgeously appear,
        Since purer waters aid its bold career;
        Strong banks of ice contract its former bounds,
        And under ice it echoes hollow sounds;
        Around the verge what curious objects rise,
        To feed the fancy, and to feast the eyes!
        Pilasters, arches, pyramids, and cones,
        Turrets enriched with porticos and domes;
        In artless order,--formed by surge and spray,
        And crystalline-garnet hues their rich array:
        A dazzling cascade ground throughout the whole
        Strikes deep with pleasure the enraptur'd soul.

FINIS 1798

Lieutenant John LeCouteur, 104th Regiment of Foot
The journal has been published as Merry Hearts Make Light Days, edited by Donald E. Graves (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1993).

The March from Fredericton through the upper St.John River valley, March 1813

On the 1st of March  we reached the grand falls of the river St.John, one hundred and fifty miles from Fredericton, where there is a small settlement.  We could not judge of its state of forwardness, every spot being covered with a mantle of snow but the inhabitants appeared to be quite happy and contented.  They said they went down to Fredericton once or twice a year, to sell or barter their furs for what commodities they required, and added that their wants were few and simple.

After dinner most of the officers went to see the fall; it presented a magnificent spectacle.  In summer it was eighty-four feet high and nine hundred feet in width but it was greatly reduced by the quantity of ice which environed it.  The spray, having frozen as it rose, had gradually so condensed itself that it had joined and formed a splendid, irregular, fantastical arch of surprising brilliancy and lightness, in all the rugged and mixed varieties of form which frost gives to falling water, suddenly arrested by congelation.  The banks on each side from the same cause were like solid, irregular, glassy buttresses supporting the arch; and the surrounding trees being beautifully fringed with frost.  When the sun rose on the ice and displayed the prismatic colors playing on it, the scene called to mind the idea of an enchanted palace of glass, fitter, indeed, for a person to gaze on than inhabit, which was strictly true, for desolation reigned around.  No beast, bird, nor even insect cheered the sight or enlivened the ear, the only sound that disturbed the icy death-like stillness around was the resistless, roaring river, rushing impatiently through its restricted and fringed bed of ice into the gulf beneath, whence surging on it hurried to a considerable distance before the frost had the power to conceal it under a bed of ice.

Charles T. Jackson, October 1836

First Report on the Geology of the Public Lands in the State of Maine

(The upper St.John, Madawaska, and Tobique Rivers)

The Grand Falls are produced by the falling of this river over high ledges of slate and limestone rocks, where
it makes a sudden turn in its course. This cataract is amost magnificent waterfall, and tumbles by a series of

three successive leaps over the rocks, to the distance of 125 feet, with a tremendous crash and roar, while it
rushes through its high rocky barriers, and whirls its foaming waters along their course. When the sun's rays
fall upon the mist and spray, perpetually rising from the cataract, a gorgeous iris is seen floating in the air, waving
its rich colors over the white foam, and forming a beautiful contrast with the sombre rocks, covered with dark
cedars and pines, which overhang the abyss.

Sir John Caldwell has just erected a saw-mill beside this waterfall, and has constructed a railroad of timber across the high promontory of land, so as to transport the deal boards aud logs from the mill, and to the river below the falls. Although it is sometimes agreeable to see the useful combined with the beautiful, I do not suppose that lovers of the picturesque will imagine the beauty of the falls enhanced, by the erection of saw mills by its side; nevertheless, if they prove advantageous to the public, we must yield in matters of taste, to the demands of com-merce. There is, however, nothing repulsive in the appearance of these works, and they may be shut out of the view, if found to detract from its interest. Travellers,who may visit the Grand Falls, will find many very magnificent scenes, which are peculiar, and will interest even those who have seen the more stupendous cataract of Niagara.

We are indebted to Sir John CaIdwell for many polite attentions, which we beg leave here to acknowledge.

Charles Hallock

1863 Trip to Aroostook, including Madawaska

From an article describing a visit to the Aroostook and St.John River Valleys, 1863, in the  October 1863 Harper's New Monthly Magazine.

Let us now turn toward the little white church
with its environment of trees, and the long line
of hills behind that surge upward in dark billows
of verdure. A new world in nature is before
us. Against the back-ground of foliage a dense
column of mist is ever rising, sparkling in the
sunlight, and spanned by a rainbow arch that
rests on abutments of fleecy clouds. A calm
pervades the landscape, and through the still nit
can be heard a hollow roar deep in the bowels
of the earth; and if one will suspend his breath
he can feel a tremor under his feet, as if caldrons
were fiercely bubbling. At night, in their little
room, the travelers heard the same dull roar,
and were lulled to sleep by the droning mono-
tone. Now the cause of the invisible phenom-
enon was about to be manifested to them in a
scene of wild commotion. They passed on, by
a winding path, through a grove of cedars and
spruce, the sound increasing momentarily, when
their steps were suddenly arrested by a tremen-
dous chasm which gaped heneath their feet, and,
looking over the dizzy verge, the great cataract
of the Grand Falls of the St. John burst upon
their view in all its grandeur of thunder, foam,
and ever-rising spray. Down a precipice of
seventy feet it leaped, shivering itself into mist;
then raged and whirled, piling itself into huge
drifts of foam; then dove into the unfathomable
depths of an inky pool; and, struggling a while,
finally burst through the surface, and foamed
away, over a succession of falls and rapids,
through a contracted channel, whose perpendic-
ular walls are two hundred feet high! Niagara
is grand and sublime, overpowering the sense by
its immensity of volume; but the Grand Falls
are fearfully romantic; for the precipitous cliffs
that confine the cataract are fringed with forest
trees, which overhang the very brink, and add a
wildness and beauty to the picture which Niag-
ara does not possess. But the stand-point from
which to obtain the most impressive view is at
the bottom of the abyss below. The descent is
difficult and even perilous. Man is a small
atom down there, looking up at the blue sky
above him through that great rift. The black,
impending rocks threaten to crush him; tall,
scraggy pines stretch out their long arms threat-
eningly toward him; the reverberating thunder
deafens him; his breathing becomes difficult;
and the seething torrent rushing by seems about
to sweep the rocky bed from beneath his feet.
The whole earth trembles. Not a bird or living
creature is to be seen. Even the fleecy clouds
above seem anxious to avoid the place, and scud
quickly across the gulf. In the spring, when
freshets above swell the impetuous volume of
water, the fury of the torrent is even more ter-
rific. Pent up within the narrow gorge, and
unable to discharge itself through the natural
passage, it is forced upward in immense surging
billows, subsiding and heaving with each suc-
cessive flood that plunges over the Falls.

Joseph Whitman Bailey, 1896
From "Travel diary of New Brunswick
1881 - 1897"

Joseph Whitman Bailey's description of the falls and gorge states: "Every traveller should visit the Grand Falls. As the water in its mad career, although ever the same in a general way, momentarily changes as regards the minor movements, and as the chief beauty of the scene depends upon that constant change, no photograph can represent, nor pen describe it. The main fall is almost perpendicular, and wider at the top than at the base. The principal part of the river flows in a black and oily‑looking mass through a depression near the centre, and immediately beneath a huge fragment appears, called the Split Rock, upon which waters thunder unceasingly and rebound with more than doubled fury. A column of spray ever rises from this part of the fall, completely obscuring the Split Rock at moderately high waters; and when the sun's rays fall upon it, a gorgeous rainbow floats in mid‑air, waving its many colours over the sombre rocks and foaming eddies. Distinct lunar rainbows are often seen. It is not so much the splendour, the speed and energy of the Grand Falls that impress me, as it is the incessancy of the display. For how many ages, we wonder, prior to man's advent on earth, did this vast torrent of tumultuous water thunder down the cliff?

On the right‑hand side the stream comes over the brink in a curtain, which at average water is about a foot in thickness; and on the extreme right it falls into a crevice at the base of a jetting crag, the latter facing the fall. The water is collected in the crevice and thrown sideways, other waters falling on top; and when a lot of spruce logs, passing down the side pitch, runs foul of another lot coming straight over, the spectacle is inspiring.

On the left a man may climb down to the waters’ edge, and there obtain, if not too badly spray drenched, a splendid view of the Split Rock. In seasons of extreme drought the river is said to contract until the flow is almost entirely within the depression above this rock already referred to.

A winding gorge about one mile long, the sides of which are generally perpendicular, and from eight to one hundred and fifty feet in height, has been formed by the erosive action and recession of the fall. The rocks are calcareous slates of the Upper Silurian age, with strata so curiously twisted and irregularly worn that one may climb everywhere with a firm, safe foothold. Immediately below the fall the gorge is quite wide, that is, as wide as the fall, but it narrows gradually to a point where a suspension bridge crosses, this widens again, and finally becomes narrower than ever at the lower end, and continues all the while to deepen as the distances from the fall increases. In several places steep ravines afford access to the bottom, where there are rapids of such a wild order that any attempt at navigation would prove fatal, and opposite Pulpit Rock, a stairway has been constructed. The cliffs are everywhere crowned by a thick growth of young spruce trees.

Pulpit Rock is a colossal mass overhanging the abyss, where the St. John is narrower than it is anywhere else between the confluence of the Baker and Southwest branches and the Bay of Fundy. The exact width cannot easily be measured, for the rapid below is the widest in the gorge. The whole river seems to throw itself in one seething and sprouting mass over some hidden obstruction, which is probably a many‑ton mass of rock that has fallen away from the cliff, thereby creating Pulpit Rock as we now see it. A rocky promontory, perforated with water‑worn wells extends from the stairway to the rapid. 'The Great Well' is about thirty feet deep, with a diameter of sixteen feet at the top, widening at the bottom. Many others are scattered over the rocks, some large, some small, and nearly all on this promontory. As it is only during very high floods that water covers them, they must have been formed in the post­glacial epoch when the gorge was in the process of erosion.

Some distance below the well, on the same side of the stream, a great cliff overhangs, so that when standing on the brow the water is hardly discernable at the base. Here the stream is nearly as narrow as it is beneath Pulpit Rock, and perfectly still under ordinary conditions, although dark and threatening in appearance. Below the cliff

we find the 'Coffee Mill', a whirlpool deriving its name from an extravagant propensity to spin logs around and around until they are ground to a point at each end, and generally rendered unfit for any industrial purpose.

When the annual flood is at maximum level, the falls present an appearance exceedingly grand and impressive. Standing at the waters' edge in the summer season, one sees the flood lines thirty or forty feet above, and clearly marked by the absence of all vegetation below this level."



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