Founded in the 1840's, Petites, Newfoundland, has been home to generations of weather-hardened souls who made their living on the sea. By 1859, a methodist church was constructed that later became the Bethany United Church. There were 212 people living here in 1946, and only 146 by 1956. In October, 2003, the last remaining residents of the community were resettled.
I had the privilege of visiting the remains of this abandoned town with my father, and spent two days exploring and photographing as much as I could.
There was a skiff of snow on the ground as we rolled along Highway 101 and pulled up to the closed gates. As we began walking along the road into the park, I thought back to my earlier visit to Greenwater Provincial Park and wondered if it would be as well preserved.
In little time we were greeted by a ruffled grouse, another similiarity to the aforementioned park. I was suprised, however, to flush about 5 more before we left.
As one who frequents Provincial Parks for camping, when I heard that there were a few that had been closed, permanently, I knew I would have to take the opportunity to have a look at how nature reclaims these spaces. I spend a lot of time in Gogama, and that seemed the perfect jumping-off point for a trip to the former Greenwater Provincial Park. As it turns out, once wouldn't be enough.
There is conflicting information as to the purpose of this building. Some information seems to indicate that this site was a World War II-era radar site. Perhaps a transmitter site, associated with the large antenna atop the nearby mountain-top.
Other information suggests that this building was part of the communications system assembled by railway that would bring Newfoundland into Canada, and part of the viewership of the CBC. Its proximity to the former railroad does seem to support that.
Belonging to the United States Air Force, construction of this radar station began in 1951 and was completed two years later.
In 1971, control of the station was handed over to the Royal Canadian Air Force, and it was promptly closed. Despite being part of the Pinetree Line, and having radar designed for use with the SAGE system, the station was never made part of the SAGE network.
Arriving in Stephenville, Newfoundland, it's easy to find yourself driving along an old runway. As you look around, you will see many buildings remaining from the former Harmon AFB, some of them dating back to its original construction in the 1940's.
While driving along that runway, I noticed one building in particular that seemed no longer to be in use. We pulled over to take a closer look. It was a fascinating, large hanger and after peering through various broken windows, I came upon a way in.
I had, unfortunately, read about this a few months after being in Stephenville for the first time. I marked it on my map for future reference with the idea that, someday, I would return.
We drove down the dirt road to the place I had marked on the map. From there, it was a short walk along the path until we found what we were looking for.
Construction of this lighthouse began in July, 1871, as granite was quarried from nearby. Advice and equipment were supplied by D&T Stevenson, an engineering firm from Scotland. With a light standing 95 feet above sea level, it could be seen as far away as 13 miles in clear weather.
From this time until the 1940's, there were six different lighthouse keepers stationed here. The building was then abandoned and slowly fell into ruin.