The Incredible Shrinking Mill - Atlas Obscura

The Incredible Shrinking Mill

Port Colborne, Ontario

This mill on Lake Erie appears to shrink as a viewer approaches thanks to an optical illusion.  

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As you drive along the lakeshore heading east towards the town of Port Colborne, there’s a federal grain elevator mill in the distance, which appears quite large, framed by a group of trees and the road ahead. However, as the trees become closer, the mill recedes rapidly into the distance; the trick to your eyes and mind is incredible.

The principle behind this wonderful optical illusion is similar to the optical illusion experienced at “gravity” and “magnetic” hills and various vortex and mystery spots found throughout the world. It has everything to do with your ability to see the horizon line, which when first approaching the mill you cannot. Because of this it appears much larger than it is. As one drives towards the bay more of the surrounding horizon is revealed causing your perception to constantly readjust and give one the feeling the mill is constantly shrinking.

The effect is so strong that it can even be experienced in video. A good reminder that seeing isn’t always believing.

Know Before You Go

Take Cement Plant Road south to Lakeshore Road, turn left (east) and look straight ahead to the bend in Lakeshore Road.

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