Bagaduce Reversing Tidal Falls
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Tides passing in and out over the shallow bottom ledge under the bridge crossing the Badaduce River in North Brooksville creating an impressive reversing waterfall effect that is very popular with whitewater boaters.
The Bagaduce River flows through the small town of North Brooksville and empties into Penobscot Bay at Castine Harbor, Maine. The locals generally view the Bagaduce River as an extraordinary body of water that graces the shores of Penobscot Bay, well known for its local wildlife. Today, traffic on the river consists of recreational craft, fishing boats, and training vessels of the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. The Bagaduce River has a watershed of 81.9 square miles with over 93.7 miles of waterway. While it is not the size of the river but a combination of the shape of the valley, bedrock geology and tides that work together to form this unique tidal phenomena.
The greatest influence on the reversing falls is the tremendous tides cause the periodic rise and fall of the ocean in this area. Tides are caused by the gravitational interaction between the Earth and the Moon. The moon’s gravitational attraction causes the oceans to bulge toward the moon with another bulge occurring on the opposite side. When this bulge is coupled with the shape of the Gulf of Maine the tides become extreme. Since the earth is rotating while this is happening, two large tide events happen each day.
The reversing salt-water falls occurs under the bridge on Route 175/176 in a narrow section of the river near North Brooksville. What makes this an ideal location for a bridge, good footing in an elevated narrow section of the river also make the correct conditions to create this reversing falls. This set of falls is formed when the water rushes through a narrow gap between the ledges on both sides of the bridge. As the salt water passes over rocks under the bridge it causes the "waterfalls" effect. The reversing falls actually are rapids, which are caused by shallow bottom in a narrow passage of water. The boulders and ledges, in addition to the narrow passageway between the bridge cement structures form a bottleneck, causing a rise in the depth of water on the neap side of the falls. As the tidal current slows, the roar of the water gradually diminishes until at slack tide, for a short period of time, the water under the bridge is like a mirror. Gradually, the direction of the water changes, the seaweed is swept in the opposite direction, and before you realize it ripples appear with the waves growing in size quickly.
Remember normally that the water flow to the ocean. At low tide, the wide river above the bridge empty into the bay under the bridge in a waterfall or rapid. As the tide rises above the falls, the seawater forces its way against the waters flow. The rapids slow to a stop for a short period of time giving the appearance that the falls have reversed. This process repeats itself twice a day. Because the water is constantly churning things up at the Reversing Falls it often attracts seals and eagle due to the waters provide abundant food for the animals that makes visiting this earthcache a special treat.
To log this Earthcache: You must visit the area and answer an earth science question. There is no container or logbook for you to sign just a beautiful and unique natural feature to observe. You must post a photo of yourself/your hand and your GPS with one of the water features in the background and then to log this cache you must record the time of your visit as it relates to the tides and what you observe, an example of a log might be, Arrived at 4:30 p.m. which was 1 hour after high tide, and the water was running upstream forming turbulence with wave up to two feet high. There were several seal fishing at the time of our visit. Over time as the logs accumulate visitors will realize if they want to have the best view of this tidal falls phenomenon the time that they should visit. Tidal charts are available at: (visit link) you will want to use Castine for reference.
You may see something that you do not expect. One of the more interesting legends of the Bagaduce River is the reported sighting of a 300-foot long Sea Serpent in 1782, by British troops. The source of the story was with the Reverend Abraham Cunningham, as he related an account, "British on their expedition to Bagaduse" having seen a "Sea Serpent" reportedly "300 feet long." If you examine in Bernard Heuvelmans’s classic “In the Wake of the Sea Serpent”, the "Chronological Table of Sightings" beginning on page 575 you will see this area was the number one East Coast location for Sea Serpent sightings in the second half of the 18th century. Sea Serpents sightings were reported in Penobscot Bay a vast number occasions in the period of 1817-1818. But after that as population increases the sighting decrease until no longer are there any reports of Sea Serpents today. Perhaps it was the reversing falls that attracted the Sea Serpents to the area.
If you enjoy this earthcache you may want to check the Maine Geological Survey located at (visit link)
They have developed a number of information sheets or field localities giving a great deal of information about geologic features. They also have a number of books and maps about Maine’s natural history/ geology that you might find interesting.
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