Reichenbach Quasquicentennial

"The Great Falls of the Reichenbach" - Turner, 1804
“The Great Falls of the Reichenbach” (Turner, 1804)

… 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]

Plaque marking the location of the final struggle between Holmes and Moriarty, placed by the Bimetallic Question of Montreal and the Reichenbach Irregulars of Switzerland


The fourth of May is a date well known to Sherlockians and Watsonians the world over. On this day, 125 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).

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London has arranged several journeys (or “pilgrimages”) to Meiringen and the Falls, most recently in 2012. The Reichenbach Irregulars have announced plans to host a conference called “Reichenbach and Beyond” in 2017.

Have you visited the Falls, either with a group or on your own? Share in the comments!

(The closest your “Selena Buttons” has been is the Geneva airport, but one day, who knows?)

Paget illustration for “The Final Problem”, 1893


5 Replies to “Reichenbach Quasquicentennial”

  1. Thank you for posting this. I certainly enjoyed the artwork. How great it would be to go see the falls–I’ve thought of it as being like a pilgrimage of sorts that I should undertake. I’ve never had the opportunity but hope to some day. I’ve seen some of the photos of the groups visiting the falls in full 1895 dress. The costuming is amazing.

    1. Those costumes *are* amazing. Sometimes, I think about how neat it would be to wear one of those fancy dresses to an event. And then I remember that I am entirely too lazy to be that fancy.

  2. Well, you must come next year. I can now tell you that we’ll have a double event: our Swiss friends will take care of the Reichenbach side, while we of Uno Studio in Holmes will do the “A week later” event in Florence on the following weekend. Start booking your tickets to Europe…

    1. That is so tempting! I’ve actually been to Florence, just once, on a mini-break while I was studying in the UK, and I would love to go back.

  3. Wow…’a week later’ event in Florence. Oh how I wish I could go! I hope you write up something with photos for this site so we can share in the fun from afar.

Comments are closed.