Van Morrell

Van Morrell was born in Bangor, Maine on March 10, 1867, the son of French Canadian parents.

Do you see a metal ring on the ground?

This ring has been around since 1904 and symbolizes one of the greatest stories ever told.

On August 12th, 1904, thirty-six-year-old Van Morrell of the United States wrote his name in Grand Falls history. In fact, he did not write anything, but he walked with such skill and boldness that the people of Grand Falls will no doubt remember him for a long time.

On that day, there were to be two days of horse racing in the park. Van Morrell, who lived in Houlton, Maine, at the time, volunteered to demonstrate walking 120 meters on a steel cable stretched over the falls and gorge of Grand Falls. It was a pleasant summer day, partially overcast, but with sunny intervals. Many spectators lined up on either side of the banks and gathered on the rocks at the mouth of the Little River.

Van Morrell began his walk from the current site of the Malabeam Tourist Information Center. He carried a 20-foot (6-meter) long pipe to use as a balance pole.

As the crowd held its breath, Morrell slowed his walk over the jagged rocks and turbulent water. After walking only 34 feet, to the dismay of the spectators, he stopped, then began to back up and leapt through the crowd.

Van Morrell had miscalculated one thing, the afternoon sun in his eyes. So, as spectators waited, he crossed the traffic bridge and headed to O. B. Davis Park and slowly began his walk on the steel cable again.

This second attempt was so successful that he performed, on the same thread, other delicate balancing acts.

One story goes that when they passed the hat, he received 45 cents for his exploits.

Head to the Grand Falls Historical Museum where you can observe the balancing pole used by Van Morrel during his remarkable performance.

Do you like thrills?

You can experience the crossing that Van Morrel did on a zip line!

The Zip Zag company which is located next to the Malabeam Tourist Information Center would be happy to welcome you so that you can experience the raw majesty of the waterfalls and the gorge by zip line. Go see them!