… upon the afternoon of the 4th we set off together with the intention of crossing the hills and spending the night at the hamlet of Rosenlaui. We had strict injunctions, however, on no account to pass the falls of Reichenbach, which are about half-way up the hill, without making a small detour to see them.
It is, indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening, coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green water roaring for ever down, and the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing for ever upwards, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and clamour. [FINA]
The fourth of May is a date well known to Sherlockians and Watsonians the world over. On this day, 128 years ago, Holmes and Moriarty fought a final, apparently fatal struggle at the edge of the Reichenbach Falls. What really happened there has been the subject of a number of essays and pastiches over the years.
Today, there are a number of memorial sites one can visit in and around Meiringen. A life-size statue of Holmes, sculpted by John Doubleday, was unveiled by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London in 1988. Nearby, a Sherlock Holmes Museum opened in 1991.
Also in 1991, in honour of the centennial, the Bimetallic Question of Montreal and the Reichenbach Irregulars of Switzerland erected a commemorative plaque near the Falls. There are a few other plaques to be found in the area, including one noting the location of the “Englischer Hof” (otherwise known as the Hotel Rössli, Meiringen).
Have you visited the Falls, either with a group or on your own? The closest I’ve ever been is the airport in Geneva, but I’d love to get there one day!
”Chips” writes that he will be spending the day assembling a puzzle of this iconic illustration: