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Churchill Falls isn't actually on the highway, much to my surprise. The highway passes straight on by the top of the town and there's some kind of U-shaped road system that leads off into the town and then back onto the highway a little further down.

childrens play area churchill falls trans labrador highway 500 labrador city happy valley goose bay canada october octobre 2010

Having lost my photos of Labrador City I decided to take 10 minutes out and go for a nosey around the town to see what it has to offer.

There are plenty of children here I suppose (but then with seven months of winter to contend with, there's nothing else for the adults to do in the evening) and it's pleasant to see them being catered for. Many adults, especially those in power over their fellow-citizens, seem to forget that they were once children when it comes to the allocation of civic funds.

houses housing accommodation churchill falls trans labrador highway 500 labrador city happy valley goose bay canada october octobre 2010

You will note the trim almost suburban appearance of the housing areas out here. This is typical of many of the small towns up here in Labrador and Upper Québec. It has something of an appeal for anyone who is into this kind of thing, I suppose, but not for me.

I'm still rather disappointed with all of it, as I said at Labrador City. I was brought up as a child to expect to see log cabins and igloos, with dog sleds parked outside in the driveways.

barren landscape soil churchill falls trans labrador highway 500 labrador city happy valley goose bay canada october octobre 2010

One of the pastimes that won't be practised by the inhabitants of towns up here is gardening. You only need to take one look at the soil around here to work out that nothing whatever will grow here. Not even any weeds. And probably not even a Combrailles Courgette either.

Still, I suppose that it saves on having to mow the lawns or sweep the leaves. In fact, a couple of hundred sacks-full of leaves and lawn clippings, all nicely composted, would do wonders for the place.

It's all really a little bit grim. Sub-arctic tundra and all that.

Seeing as that seemed to be all there was about the town, I went off to search for some more information. The town's website tells me that construction began in 1967 to "meet the needs of approximately 3000 workers" who were building the dam and "by 1969 permanent houses were nearing completion and a permanent community was in the making". And that, dear reader, is your lot. Not only is there no heritage, the local council appears to have no interest at all in creating one.

Of course, the power plant is something else. The area round here was surveyed as long ago as the end of the 19th Century as being a potentially valuable source of hydro-electric energy although there were no suitable clients in the area and the transmission of current over long distances was not feasible given the technology of that period.

It was the discovery of iron ore out in the west of Labrador and the refinements to the transmission of energy that gave the necessary impetus and like most things around here, it was the early 1950s when things began. In fact, the Prime Minister of Newfoundland, the same Mr Smallwood whose reservoir we discussed earlier, was described as "having an obsession" with the project.

It was not until the mid-1960s that construction began and the project was completed at the end of 1971. The turbines are housed in a cavern carved out of the solid rock and it is said that they produce 1% of the world's hydro-electric power.

Of course the project was embroiled in controversy after controversy and if I listed everything about them here these pages will never end. But then again my pages are embroiled in controversy after controversy and that has never worried me in the past.

So having been all around the town and seen nothing of any particular importance I head back around the rest of the circuit and rejoin the highway. Of course my mileage counters need recalculating now but as I'm going to be fuelling up pretty soon then that will take care of itself.

john cabot street churchill falls turning petrol station trans labrador highway 500 labrador city happy valley goose bay canada october octobre 2010

And here I am back on the highway but I'm not going to be on here for long as I need to head back into town. It seems that I managed to miss the petrol station and that's not something that you ought to do around here, as I have said previously. Fuel up at every posibility.

This turning here, which is the first on the left as you come from Goose Bay, or the second on the right as you come as I have done from Labrador City, is the important turning. The petrol station is about a mile or so down there, next to the Hidden Cave one assumes. The road is called John Cabot Street by the way and I can tell you with the utmost confidence that John Cabot never even reached within 500 miles of this place.

The petrol station was quite interesting, being a pump with ... errrr ... shall we say "prices reflecting its rural isolation in the wilderness", a corner shop and a coffee house. And the coffee was quite reasonable for North America. Another function of the place is as an information exchange about conditions on the highway. I enquired about conditions trvelling eastwards and was told that "someone in here about an hour ago said it was still passable" and in exchange I made my report about the road to the west.

I also mentioned my encounter with the moose and the guy behind the counter said that I was lucky to see it. Apparently it wasn't an everyday occurrence up there.

electricity distribution centre power lines churchill falls trans labrador highway 500 labrador city happy valley goose bay canada october octobre 2010

Just outside the town, it is 289 kilometres to Goose Bay and the next left turn, according to my satnav is 175 kilometres away. There is also the huge hydro-electric plant. The generators are up there in that hill somewhere.

One of the controversies about the plant was that Quebec Hydro insisted on the right to distribute the energy and pay a price that can best be described as "favourable". And with a contract that runs up until 2040, there won't be any more money coming into this area of Labrador for quite some considerable time.

Mind you, the Québec Government argues that much of its own water flows through the generators, and the disputes roll on and on and on. But regardless of the argument, the current flows down these cable overhead and along the road that I have travelled and off into the mines at Fermont.

I stopped right underneath the cables to take a photograph and the crackling of the HT wires was astonishing. The noise was indescribable. Another quite surprising thing was that Casey's electric windows wouldn't work under here. I had to wait for a good mile or so before they would actually wind themselves up and it was cold outside.

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