TAKE A STEP BACK IN HIS­TORY

The Casket - - NAVIGATE ATLANTIC - BY CYN­THIA MCMURRAY

Travel through time and ex­pe­ri­ence life as the min­ers and their fam­i­lies did as you tour one of the six mine sites built to ex­tract the vast and valu­able ore de­posit named “Wa­bana” by Thomas Cant­ley,then sec­re­tary of Nova Sco­tia Steel and Coal, a name thought to be an Abe­naki In­dian word mean­ing “the place where day­light first ap­pears.”

Learn about the first min­ers in 1895 and how they had to shovel the heavy ore into 20 or more trol­ley cars ev­ery shift, a truly back­break­ing task. Hear the many sto­ries about the famed min­ing horses, like Jack­son, the last horse to come out of #3 Mine where he had spent most of his adult life, pulling the heavy trol­ley cars to the base of a hoist­ing slope where the ore was even­tu­ally shipped to Syd­ney, Nova Sco­tia where it was smelted in a gi­ant steel mill or trans­ported as far away as the United States and even Ger­many.

If wartime his­tory in­ter­ests you, learn about Bell Is­land’s place dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.tour guides, some of which are di­rect descen­dants of the Wa­bana min­ers, will take you back in time, al­low­ing you to you to ex­pe­ri­ence the ter­ri­fy­ing Ger­man U-boat at­tacks in 1942 and the tor­pedo at­tack on the is­land, which is ac­tu­ally the only lo­ca­tion in all of North Amer­ica to see an at­tack dur­ing the War. See the ac­tual medals of the Ger­man com­man­der of the U513 that tor­pe­doed and sank two ore ships just off Bell Is­land.

If you are look­ing for a real look into the work­ing­man’s cul­ture and his­tory in New­found­land, a trip to Bell Is­land should be on your must-see list.the Bell Is­land mines be­came one of the largest pro­duc­ers of iron ore in north-eastern North Amer­ica, ex­tract­ing al­most four bil­lion tons of ore from its shafts that ex­tend far be­neath the seabed of Con­cep­tion Bay, cre­at­ing one of the most ex­ten­sive sub­ma­rine iron mines in the world.

The mu­seum and mine tour are open un­til Sept.30 and run daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., although the last tour leaves at 5 p.m. For rates and to book your tour, visit the mu­seum’s web­site at www. bel­lis­land­mine­tour.com or call­ing (709) 488-2880. A few tips for visit: wear a warm jacket and com­fort­able shoes and take a taxi across on the ferry in­stead of your car — it is faster (line ups for car cross­ings can get long dur­ing the sum­mer) and less ex­pen­sive.

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