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Monday, 8 July 2013

The Reichenbach Falls

Arthur Conan Doyle was tired of Sherlock Holmes, and wanted to kill him off. He did so by sending him to Meiringen in Switzerland, where he and his arch-enemy, Moriarty, struggle before they apparently both fell to their deaths. Before that, Holmes was allowed to write a note to Dr. Watson, who had been lured away:


I write these few lines through the courtesy of Mr. Moriarty, who awaits my convenience for the final discussion of those questions which lie between us. He has been giving me a sketch of the methods by which he avoided the English police and kept himself informed of our movements. They certainly confirm the very high opinion which I had formed of his abilities. I am pleased to think that I shall be able to free society from any further effects of his presence, though I fear that it is at a cost which will give pain to my friends, and especially, my dear Watson, to you. I have already explained to you, however, that my career had in any case reached its crisis, and that no possible conclusion to it could be more congenial to me than this. Indeed, if I may make a full confession to you, I was quite convinced that the letter from Meiringen was a hoax, and I allowed you to depart on that errand under the persuasion that some development of this sort would follow. Tell Inspector Patterson that the papers which he needs to convict the gang are in pigeonhole M., done up in a blue envelope and inscribed "Moriarty." I made every disposition of my property before leaving England and handed it to my brother Mycroft. Pray give my greetings to Mrs. Watson, and believe me to be, my dear fellow

Very sincerely yours, SHERLOCK HOLMES.

Well, as every Baker Street Irregular knows, Holmes didn't die, but the cunning Swiss tourism people still celebrate the death that didn't happen.

What most people don't know is that Moriarty also survived, only to be killed by an explosion in Australia when Holmes was assisting Henry Cruciform in experiments on an explosive called nitrogum, which was based on eucalyptus oil. This is a story I plan to tell, Real Soon Now.

Cruciform and Holmes met, the same night that Holmes "died", so I went to Meiringen in pursuit of the details today.  I mean, how else can I make a more convincing story of it?

Actually, I was looking for two main things: the geology and topography of the area, and unrelated to any present work plan, the way the cunning Swiss have managed to lock onto the story.  Consider the following:
A statue of Sherlock Holmes outside the Sherlock Holmes
Museum, which we only entered far enough to see if they
had a shop that sold caps (I needed one, but as I had
predicted, they only had deer-stalkers).
This was nearby

And this.
Here is a close-up
And this wasn't far off.
And as this shows, the whole thing is a fafle: this pipeline carries the water up that comes down the falls.  Maybe.
And my faulty German says they are planning to claim Schwimmbad, the Sailor.

Serious stuff
The falls are, in fact, quite remarkable.  The train from Luzern to Interlaken arrives in Meiringen one hour and 17 minutes after leaving Luzern (Swiss trains are like that).  You walk out of the station, turn right, find the main road, turn right along that an follow it until you see a bridge.  Cross over and go along the left-hand (western) side to avoid a nasty roundabout.

Approaching the roundabout, head at about 10 o'clock, using the pedestrian crossings as rural Swiss drivers are a bit feral, and get to the funicular that takes you up (it is 20 Swiss Francs return and well worth it, as there is more climbing at the top.

On the way there, we saw this through the train window, and wondered how modern the Swiss were. The next two shots show the reality: the Swiss like to play games and dress up!

What we saw at Meiringen

Can you tell the passengers from the tourists?
And here are two shots of the falls themselves.  I will add more shots later.
Spray made good photos difficult, but there is a lot of water.

And as you can see, there is serious power there: note the hole through the rock.

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