Today was a busy day although we didn’t go very far. We drove from Clarenville to Spaniard’s Bay on the Baccalieu Trail. We stopped at a couple of lookout’s but didn’t do any hikes.
Our first lookout was in Sunnyside but since it was a cloudy grey day the view wasn’t very interesting. We decided to drive to the end of the road. The main road in Newfoundland goes from west to east but with all the peninsula’s and inlets there are off-shoot roads all over; a lot of which go a few kilometers to a small community and stop at the water’s edge.
At the end of the road in Sunnyside you could see the two hills on either side of the inlet and in the middle of the water between was a platform with five or six large cranes on it and many small floating platforms around it. We couldn’t figure out what it was so John stopped on the way back and asked a fellow coming out of his driveway on his ATV (lots of people use ATV’s to drive around in their town and as soon as the snow falls they switch to snowmobiles). The big platform was a 4 1/2 year construction project of a gravity base for an oil drilling rig. When completed it will be towed out to the Grand Banks and a rig will be put on it. Newfoundland currently has 4 oil platforms and they are pumping 500,000 barrels of oil a day in the Grand Banks.
Our second lookout stop was at Arnold’s Cove. We didn’t hike here but Poppy had to do a 1/2 mile of off-roading. The view was over the Placentia Bay and on a clear day you could see many of the islands. But today it was pretty grey and hazy so the view wasn’t too good. The interesting part, especially for John, was the view of the oil refinery on one side and the six gigantic oil storage tanks and two oil tankers docked at the shore. John loves that industrial stuff – that and nice farm land are his two favorite views, I think.
We were on the Trans-Canada Highway for quite awhile today but did a little jog south to the town of Whitbourne to see the railroaders memorial. 61 men lost their lives during Newfoundland’s railroad years. The railroad has been abandoned for years and no trains run here at all. But the railway line from Port aux Basques to St. John’s (900+ km) is now the T’Railway walking route
Shag Rock Our next stop was by far the most interesting. We were at Heart’s Content about halfway up Highway 80 on the Baccalieu Peninsula and stopped at the Provincial Historic Site Cable Station. In 1866 the trans-Atlantic cable came ashore at Heart’s Content from Valencia, Ireland and linked Europe with North America; thus providing instant communication between the continents.
Heart’s Content was a two-class town pretty much – the local fishing families and the cable families. The Cable company built housing, provided entertainment, arranged outings and events and did many other things for its employees but the local people were not invited or offered any of the benefits. During the war with so many of the young men overseas they began to hire women and they were so good at the work typing the messages and relaying them to other stations that they continued to keep them and hire them even after the war was over. The women were given the same wages, benefits and advancement opportunities. One 15 year old girl became a supervisor at 17. But…you had to quit if you go married. At the heyday of the Cable Station it employed 300 people. When the station closed in 1965 (Marconi’s wireless made cable obsolete) there were only 18 still working at the Station.
All the equipment was still in the original building as was the pool table in the lounge. There was tons of equipment with knobs and dials and wires and who-knows-what-all. I have no idea what most of it did but it was amazing engineering. SwitchboardThe wires attached to the switchboard!
The last stop was at Salmon Cove to see the 500′ heart-shaped grey sand beach. By then there was a bit of blue sky and the steep cliffs and rocks in the bay made a lovely scene. I took off my hiking boots and socks and waded into the Atlantic. It was freezing but crystal clear.