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St. John River: Big Noise

Foghorn is invented for Partridge Island

More on the St. John River:
St. John River:
The Good and the Bountiful

Cargo of Misery:
Disease and death stalk desperate newcomers

Company Town:
Boss Gibson's Marysville

Natural delicacy of the river valley

Fir Trade:
Forests are vital to New Brunswick's economy

Fries to Go:
Fast food for the world

Home Children:
Tragic chapter in our immigration history

Big Noise:
Foghorn is invented for Partridge Island

Return Flight:
Bald eagles recover old nesting sites

The Sand and the Fury:
The complex ecology of the Fundy tides

Starting Over:
Loyalists seek refuge from revolution

Vive la République !:
The unique cultural mélange of Madawaska

The foggy entrance to Saint John harbour was a hazard to big sailing ships. Captains often could not see the shore and depended on sound to help them find their way. A cannon was placed on Partridge Island in 1791 and fired to guide incoming ships through heavy fog for which the harbour was known. However, an acceptable level of marine navigation safety had not yet been achieved.

Scottish immigrant, Robert Foulis, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1821 to pursue his career as an engineer. He was a multi-talented genius and inventor who help designed the first steamboats for use on the Saint John River.

It was while perfecting his invention of a gas lamp for lighthouses that Foulis thought of using steam to power a whistle loud enough to penetrate miles of fog. Foulis also invented, among other things, a method of using the whistle as a means of receiving and transmitting messages or telegraphy.

In 1859 Foulis' foghorn, which used a system of coded blasts, was erected at the western end of Partridge Island. In 1860, when it first echoed out to sea, it was just in time to make the harbour safe through a thick fog that lasted for more than 65 days.

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