Driving One of These Monsters is Easy!
After we had flown south again, but only half-way, to the Wabush/Labrador City area, we toured another of the IOC complexes. Again, there were more open-pit mines and large rock haul trucks to transport the raw ore to refining facilities. This time, I got to have a seat in the cab of one of the 120-ton Wabco haul trucks to see what it would be like controlling such a huge beast!
- Business Travel
Churchill Falls - Part 24 - What's next - Muskrat?
So now that I have given you a virtual tour of one of the world's largest hydro electric projects on the Churchill River and some sights from around the town what is next for the pressured Grand River?
Governments of the day are now promoting more development of the river while environmental groups in the area fight against it.
Down river much closer to the mouth of the river, development is being proposed at a site called Gull Island and Muskrat Falls. Both areas can be seen by traveling past Churchill Falls enroute to Happy Valley - Goose Bay.
Here in this picture is one I took of the Muskrat Falls. It's not as dramatic in height but the pressure and grade of the river still has the force to create an economically viable project.
In the years to come I'll tell you a story of what happens. Will it be of another contract gone bad for a financially inept province? An environmental disaster? Or an environmentally friendly project that delivers benefits to the people of Labrador? We will have to wait and see! :-)
Churchill Falls - Part 3 - The Falls Today
As you can see in this picture that I personally took the falls doesn't have the force it once did when it was aloud to flow free.
That being said I still find it to be a beautiful falls and very scenic area. I don't recommend you try this but when you are almost to Churchill Falls you come to the Brinco Bridge that crosses the river.
From there once year we hiked down the edge of the river and there are several massive pools that you can do some cliff like diving. Be warned the water is very cold in those pools though and I have no idea which ones they were now so don't do it!! Diving into unknown waters is obviously not safe.
Another time we hiked down over the rock face that you see in this picture and took pictures looking back up at the falls. This too is not safe and I don't recommend. The rock face is very slippery in places and we were silly to do it without any aids. You can see toward the middle of the picture that eventually the rocks take a very steep drp and you don't want to end up down there!!
Churchill Falls - Part 23 - Hydro Output?
Enroute toward the power generating station there is a Churchill Falls sign as seen in the picture.
These tells you how many megawatts of power is being generated at the time. It is constantly fluctuating.
I think it is a neat little sign that they have installed there.
Churchill Falls - Part 13 - The Beautiful River!
As you can see from this picture when you look past the engineering project there is one beautiful and scenic river!
I havn't boated on this river yet but will try my best to do so soon. I know local people are on it all the time and aboriginal elders from the Happy Valley - Goose Bay area make annual treks down the river in canoe as they often did as trappers years ago.
To explore the river either way you will be in for a treat and that activity alone is worth doing your homework for and just doing it!
Churchill Falls - Part 17 - Reflector Hill
To enter Churchill Falls from Wabush you have to take the first exit off the Trans Labrador Highway.
As soon as you turn you will see a hill with a satelite reflector on the top. That is Churchill Falls Reflector Hill. It makes for a nice short little walk in town and gives you the view you see in this picture.
Be a little bit cautious that harmless black bears may be in the area from time to time.
You can see in this picture as well the layout of the town. The town itself was also well engineered and all the houses are identical with a couple of variations. Remember this is a company town.
Some other intesting things of note, that residents and employees pay very minimal prices to live in the Company house, like $150 CDN per month and your utlities are included in that so its a great place to bank some money!
The Company even comes in and provided appliances, paints the places and even gives fertilizer for your lawn!! :-)
Churchill Falls - Part 2 - Former Glory
Prior to the development of the Churchill River you can see from this picture it was a magnificent falls. Very very powerful and massive.
It was referred to as the Grand Falls and still by many this day. It was the Premier at the time Joey Smallwood who decided it best named after Sir Winston Churchill and thus the name of the company run town then followed.
The river was used by trappers and the aboriginal people of Labrador for transportation and trapping in the region. It was also referred to as "The Height of Land" back in those days.
Occassionaly now people do get to see the falls power again as the company release the gates at the dam and let it flow free.
The environmentalist out there understand that a hydroelectric project required massive amounts of flooding and dams to divert the water to a power generating station.
Churchill Falls - Part 16 - Town Center and Hotel
Churchill Falls is a company town and there is one main building in the town that holds the local school, a pool, gym, theatre, excercise room, department store, grocery store, post office, library, restaurant and hotel.
It's all in the building you see in this picture. This is also where you get picked up for the company tour of the site.
It's right in the center of town so seeing and finding it is not an issue.
I have eaten the food there and its very good and the hotel is a comfortable hotel to hang your hat on this journey!
Churchill Falls - Part 18 - Blueberry Lake
In the summer time you can also hang out at Blueberry Lake its right in the town just across from the main town center and behind the community multi-denominational church.
I have spotted ducks and geese in this pond on many occassions. There is a small beach you can hang out at. The water is a little cold and maybe dirty for swimming but you can check it out for sure :-)
Churchill Falls - Part 19 - Black Bears!
In all my visits to Churchill Falls I have yet to see a black bear but it wouldn't be hard if I wanted too. They hang out at the dump all the time for regular feedings.
On occassion though these bears do come into the town so you want to be careful. Here in this picture this trap was located right behind the gas station.
There will be a buzz around town if their near and this particular visit Kiana and I missed out on walking to Reflector Hill because we were afraid of an encounter!
Churchill Falls - Part 22 - The Airport!
Churchill Falls also has a very large runway that was needed during the time of construction. It was a very busy airport, today its a small town and little air traffic into the community.
There are limited scheduled passenger flights.
Interesting to note however the Company does own, maintain and operate its on King Air fixed wing aircraft and three helicopters used to monitor the transmission lines.
These guys are a good resource to get tips on where the caribou are located because they see them all the time.
The King Air is used just for executives and the residents get use to it for medical referrals when its coming or going.
Churchill Falls - Part 4 - The Look Out
Ok in Part 3 I didn't recommend very good activities, hehehe. Here is one I can recommend. Just prior to the Brinco Bridge when approaching it from Wabush you will see a small clearing beside the road and a path into the woods.
There can be some flies on this walk but if you follow the path you will eventually find this lookout of the falls. I remember it to be about 15 minutes or so to walk in there maybe more. But when you get to the lookout you get the best views of the Churchill Falls.
I hope you enjoy :-)
Churchill Falls - Part 5 - The Gorges!
This picture was taken from the lookout that I recommended in my Churchill Falls - Part 4 tip. As you can see with all the water diverted the falls pushing much less water into this part of the river.
I found the gorges to be very scenic none the less. You can see that the mighty river created some very dramatic and scenic cliffs in the area.
Churchill Falls - Part 7 - The Underground
To get underground your guide will then take you to the CNA building referred to by locals or the Generating Station. Above ground at this location you will get some interpretation and get to see the control room. No pictures where aloud there but its just like the place Homer Simpson works on the show the Simpsons :-) Seriously, hehehe
Then you get in the elevator and head underground. About 200 ft or more! Your ears will pop a little but nothing serious.
Down here you will see a maze of tunnels the area that really does make the site an impressive engineering project.
Here in this picture you can see the guide explaining how the generators work and the massive equipment that was used to truck these units to their location!
It's a bit noisy in places underground and you will be given ear plugs for that.
Churchill Falls - Part 12 - The Water Exit
So know that the water has done its work, you see it finished underground at the surge chamber but then it flows back out into the river as seen in this picture.
When you are in the town directly across from the switch yard you will see a gravel road that heads toward the river and then down. This will bring you right to the rivers edge. This is where I took the picture.
It is also a popular area for residents to launch their boats enroute many local people also plant their gardens in this area as the land is nice and fertile.
So this concludes my virtual tour of the Churchill Falls engineering project itself. I will show you around the town a little now and some more of the great scenery in the area!