Morning coffee at Signal Hill yielded an interesting view of Fort Amherst. If you look carefully at the centre of the image below you will see the lighthouse, the first in NL guarding the entrance to St. John’s harbour, as it has since about 1777. It beckoned, as these things tend to do.
Before leaving Signal Hill lets take a quick look around. The most imposing thing there, besides the hill itself which is, in fact awesome (stick around and you’ll see some more) is Cabot tower. It was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400 anniversary of the ‘discovery’ of Newfoundland by Zuan Chabotto (also known as John Cabot). This, of course in spite of the fact that the Norse were the first Europeans here. L’Ance Aux Meadows being the authenticated site of Leif (pronounced lay-iff) Eriscon’s short-lived colony, founded about 1100 years ago. More importantly we have also been home to several Native American cultures down through the millennia. Whatever. Cabot Tower it is.
The sign shows the direction and distance to places across the Atlantic. Any way you look there’s a lot of cold, deep ocean in between!
Signal hill is the site where, in 1901 Marconi is said to have received the first trans Atlantic wireless signal, although, in truth this was not independently confirmed until the following year. Many think this is where the hill got its name but the fact is it was known as Signal hill for hundreds of years previous to that event. Local businesses maintained spotters who would wait at the top of the hill for sight of their vessels coming in. Sightings and other information would then be relayed to the incoming ships and to the workers in the port via signal flags placed at the top of the hill so the appropriate preparations could be made for the arrival.
On one side is the Atlantic and on all other sides the city of St. John’s fans out. The pictures above show more or less South. This one is more-or-less looking West. You can see the north side of the harbour and a bit of the south side. The road along the south side leads to Fort Amherst.
The serpentine road leads down to the harbour.
If you look in the top middle of the photo you will see Kenmount hill. My house is four fifths of the way up that hill but just on the other side. That hill is home to, among other things, at least four moose and one coyote. In the winter it’s great for cross-country skiing or just plain hiking. Once in the woods you become completely unaware of the city that surrounds you. But, that’s for another time.
Here’s what you see looking a bit more toward the North. The airport is just beyond the wooded area at the top of the photo.
Enough of the hill. We’re going down to the harbour and skirting around to the South Side.
Here we are down by the water’s edge on the south side. The tide is fairly high and all you’d have to do is jump over those rocks if you’d like a nice refreshing dip. See the fishing boats tied up at the Prosser’s Rock wharf? Cabot tower is right above that bluish-green crab boat.
Turning the camera the other way and panning across the harbour you can see the stupid wreck of a tug we got as a bit of a trade for the Lyubov Orlova. The Orlova was a cruise ship left stranded here when its owners went bankrupt. It rusted away, tied up on the other side of the harbour, just behind that tug for several years until it was finally bought to be scrapped. A month or so ago the new owners engaged that tug to bring it to where it was going but the Orlova had its own plans. Once in the ocean it broke free and began drifting. The crew was unable to retrieve it and the tug was ordered back to St. Johns where it is currently impounded for safety reasons. The last I heard of the Orlova it was drifting toward Ireland and, maybe, taking on water. It will likely sink before making landfall. Quite an ignoble end. And now we are left with that dumb tug in return. Eyesore for eyesore.
Out on the wharf by Prosser’s Rock it looks like this.
Those things piled up are Crab Pots. The boats and their crews venture offshore into rough, fairly deep water in search of snow crab. It’s tough, dangerous work.
You can only drive for so far before the road comes to an end. I walked until I got to here. Look right across at Cabot tower. It’s about 160 metres straight up that granite cliff face. Want to climb? Me neither!
The gut that leads out of St. John’s harbour is called, appropriately enough, “The Narrows.” It’s a bit of a tight squeeze for larger vessels. It also keeps most of the Atlantic swells out.
Here’s what it looks like in the opposite direction.
A few seconds of video shows the view better.
Walking the rest of the way out to Fort Amherst was the plan but mother nature was not in the mood. The road up was almost pure ice and the wind started having more control over my movements than did my legs. Since I did not have the right boots on it made sense to conclude that the fort would have to wait for another time. You’ll have to settle for a bit more video looking out in the general direction of the lighthouse.
Time to skate back to the van.
The road here is very narrow. It’s a bit of a drive ahead and I’m somewhat disappointed but that’s better than a slip-dip in the harbour. Another time.