Well, the sign of a good summer is the lack of online activity as far as I'm concerned. I'm still on the road 'building boats' but managed to get a few trips to the cabin and a few after work activities. Not enough activity ... but...as the weather cools ...
Anyways, last trip we went on a short hike, related as follows:
On a beautiful August morning we set off from the cabin on Random Island to hike up to the site of the 1953 US B-36 ‘Peacemaker’ crash, a trek we’ve been meaning to make for a couple of summers now. Finally the stars aligned and the opportunity presented itself so off we went, not really knowing what to expect. The drive took about an hour from Weybridge, off the island and onto the old Bonavista Highway for a short distance. Veering off to follow the road out the north shore of Smith Sound nearly down to its termination in Burgoyne’s Cove, Trinity Bay.
Burgoyne’s Cove is on the map mostly because it is the location of one of the best ‘purple & green’ slate quarries around these parts. The rock in the quarry has adorned houses and public buildings far and wide, and also is historically sort of famous for helping to add to the proof of tectonic plate theory (the rock has been matched with slate found in Wales in the UK, showing that the Atlantic Ocean has been widening for ages and ages).
More recently and more tragically, Burgoyne’s Cove is also known for the crash of a Cold War era US Bomber with the loss of all 23 airmen aboard. The aircraft was on a top secret mission to test the north American air defense systems as a part of number of bombers flying a mock bombing run at the United States. The operation was to fly from the Azores at 500 feet, effectively below radar, and once over continental US, climb to 40,000ft and head over several cities and states. The crews were to fly by ‘dead reckoning’ which relies on celestial navigation and accurate weather forecasts.
Sadly, on the night of March 18 the mission had neither the stars nor the weather in their favour. The plane was hundreds of miles off course and flying blind when they slammed into the ridge of hills above Burgoyne’s Cove and Nut Cove. The tale is related in much more detail in a book by Tom Drodge entitled ‘Under the Radar: A Newfoundland Disaster’ published in 2011, for any who may want to delve deeper into the tragedy. A further tragic footnote to this event is the loss of another US aircraft sent out to search from the base in Stephenville, which has never been found. Also there are many accounts online should one want to read the musings of visitors such as ourselves.
The entrance to the trail is marked by a small sign, leading to an almost immediate uphill climb through deep woods, loose rocks and exposed roots. It’s well marked and there are several benches to rest along the way. It is a steep climb for probably a kilometer or more. Then, near the top, the trail widens into a plateau and we began to see debris. I was expecting a few twists of metal, not the thousands of bits of wreckage strewn over the hilltop! It is quite sobering to think of the violence that happened here that night, in the storm and snow.
We took a lot of pics but there's too much to show here. If you really want to get a good look at this site, and it is worth the climb, you should visit. The day we were there we ran into 4 other people who shared much the same feelings. One fellow was talking of returning with a drone to fly over the entire area. Maybe it will pop up on YouTube one of these days. Who knows?
Also there have been many other visitors over time. I'm sure we all have come away with a solemn feeling in our hearts. It's indescribable really, except to say "Rest in Peace gentlemen."