|The Lighthouse Marking The Barrens|
Belleoram, NL (Map)
First Day of Summer 2014
In 2013, I was down in Belleoram in the Bay d'Espoir region to hopefully go out to St. Jacques Island. During this visit beers were had as they're usually had down there, but in the course of being at my friend Frankie's parents' house, I wandered into the living room and noticed an old panoramic picture of Belleoram.
In the picture a lighthouse stood at the end of the pier but because I thought I knew everything about this light, I didn't ask anything more - that is until my friend's father said the Coast Guard simply dropped the old lighthouse off in the barrens when they replaced it. Suddenly I had an excessive amount of questions.
The father insisted that yes, the government came with a helicopter and simply dropped the lighthouse into the barrens just behind town, creating a well-known landmark which almost every Belleoram resident now knows about.
In contrast to what you know of me, I didn't immediately walk out the door and set off to see the lighthouse in 2013, as I imagined it to be a grueling and lengthy endeavour for which we didn't have time.
Returning in 2014, I brought topographic maps and aerial photographs. The only problem being that the Newfoundlanders I've come to know aren't big on maps or aerial photos, but I hoped to get clear enough instructions that I'd be able to find this beacon marking the barrens. This was now the 3rd time in 3 straight years I'd been down to Bay d'Espoir, while slacking on my travelling friend's favourite areas of Bonavista & Fogo. I felt the pressure in that if I was going to use another of our limited summer holiday weekends for Bay d'Espoir, that I better find success and it better be worth it.
My friend and his father argued about the best course of action because there was a shorter bushwhacking route with obvious geographic & man-made features, or there was a longer ATV trail that involved mud and skirting bogs. The ATV trail would get us there without going off path, but it also involved 3 turns.
Having long ago learned that while ATV turns sound easy enough, you then get out in the woods and minor paths leave you standing there weighing whether the minor notch in the woods counts as a turn.
"At the first turn go left it says...well, is this enough of a turn? Is this correct?" You're left to stand in mucky water and wonder.
We decided on the shorter undefined path, but with geographic and man-made features to follow.
Going up Kenny's driveway, the man who brought us out to St. Jacques Island last year, then onto a gravel road from his driveway, there was then the water station, check, then we dipped into the woods and found a path leading away from the water, check. The path had a few trees down, but not enough to make one turn around. Before I knew it, it was out into the barrens where a path led north and within a minute or two..."look at that over there! ...circular, rusting, near the path."
The old Beach Point Lighthouse. Number 60 for the province! 20 to go!
Of course this raises the question if lighthouses in this condition should count towards my grand goal of seeing Newfoundland lighthouses. Right now I don't count South Head or Long Island, two lighthouses where the Coast Guard decapitated the structure and dropped the lantern room off in the nearest town's community park. Both of those lights are in better condition & see greater maintenance, so maybe I should fight giving Belleoram's lighthouse extra points just because I had to work for it. Less favouritism & stricter rules. People seem to like hard & fast rules.
I'll have to think about South Head Lighthouse at Bottle Cove or Long Island Light at Petite Forte. Maybe the total number is 82 instead of 80.
Leaving the ATV path and fighting down into the thick trees and uneven underfoot rock, I noticed that others must've done the same in order to have a boil up.
Or they climbed in here while on ski-doo, which would be much easier.
The excitement of having a Newfoundland boil up - starting a fire in the woods to enjoy some beans and tea or something similar - in an old lighthouse was not lost on me. I'm sure the same excitement wasn't lost on the ski-doo'ers either, as there's no way they simply saw this round tube as a windbreak for tea/Coors Light, instead of the historic lighthouse that it is.
Climbing to the second level past the sharp edget of the cut hole in the floor, I thought about whether I would have realized this was a lighthouse if I happened to stumble upon it instead of knowing before hand.
The small portholes, the metal latches for doors and windows, the bolted together pieces of metal by angle iron. They were all reminiscent of other lighthouses of this age that I'd been inside or around. The thing is that I'm not sure I would have even looked this closely at a simple rusting tube in the woods.
Concerning the lighthouse's age, there have been at least 3 lights that have served Beach Point in Belleoram. Seeing as my friend's father is 77, that means he's been alive since 1938 and would probably remember a lighthouse demolition from maybe the mid-1940s onward. The first Beach Point Lighthouse was built around 1873 after the lightstation was established in that year. The Rooms (the museum in St. John's) has a picture of this first lighthouse, one which might've had a circular interior, but doesn't seem like it is the lighthouse I was standing inside today.
I didn't remember enough about how the old lighthouse looked in that panoramic picture either.
It's obvious that the second lighthouse at Beach Point is the lighthouse now in the barrens. A small, circular tower that was constructed in 1931, it lines up much better with what I was seeing here, with what you see from the Lighthouse Explorer's picture of this tower. The lighthouse information website I use doesn't have a date of demolition of this second Beach Point Lighthouse, but seeing as the replacement is one of the tubes that looks like a culvert absent of any curves, I'd guess that it was replaced in the 1970s or 1980s.
I searched the nearby bush for about a half hour for any other pieces, thinking that even the smallest lighthouse has more to it than what I was finding here. If the Coast Guard was going to pick up parts and drop them off with their helicopter into the barrens, wouldn't they have did the whole job like this?
If the lantern room and gallery are in these barrens, they'll remain a mystery to me because my search returned nothing. The pieces could have been dropped upon the nearby substantial hill, into the pond or countless other places; where you'd never find them like this convenient spot right by the ATV trail.
The last thing I'd like to add is that I put serious thought into whether I should make this update. I've seen some people's blogs where they bitch & moan about abandoned cars in the woods, stating that it ruins their nature experience. For me, adding an abandoned car makes me want to go into the woods and see it, and in fact, there's some woods right by Corner Brook where I would have never explored except that I learned of an old car there. I could understand this empty woods thought in a place with limited woodland like Toronto or New York, but i don't get it in the vast and accessible wilderness that is Newfoundland.
Regardless, some people want every "eyesore" cleaned up and complain about such things. I truly hope that this blog isn't viewed by the wrong person, who then calls on the Coast Guard to come back and "fix" this "problem". Hopefully the isolation of Belleoram and the time in which the people have grown used to this lighthouse being here will help alleviate government agencies of the uproar that would result in action. Or the Coast Guard could say some contractor did it and throw up their hands in complacency, where I'd then give them a virtual high five.
The scenery here is so beautiful that I also wonder about hiking trail possibilities. Then again, I'm probably the only crackpot who would drive 6 hours each way to see this, while others wouldn't even drive 20 minutes.
So forget hiking trails, here's hoping to the old Beach Point Lighthouse simply continuing to exist like this over the coming decades & centuries. I can feel that guilt in my heart from putting it on the internet - and I'll have blood on my hands if they clean it up - but I can't see how a government agency would spend thousands to come remove this; the same government agency that spends thousands and millions to remove lighthouses and keepers' housing from incredibly remote islands.
Wait a second. Please don't, please leave it be.
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1 - Lighthouse of Canada: Central and Western Newfoundland - The Lighthouse Directory, Russ Rowlett @ UNC
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