Anderson's Cove Prospectors

In 1952, Roy W. Rawley, an American from Arkansas, came to Anderson's Cove on a prospecting trip. Two employees of Newfoundland Forspar at St. Lawrence had been there earlier but no information about their findings was released. Rawley sent out a prospecting team consisting of Henry Herridge, Howard Herridge, Cyril Pope and Will Pope. The latter was a former game warden and well acquainted with the countryside.

Others hired by Rawley were Gilbert Thornhill, Albert Pope as foreman, and Ray Keeping who had a forge at Long Harbour Beach.

Rawley took the first four men to Lobster Cove to teach them about using dynamite. There, on the beach, they practiced wiring dynamite caps. They had to be sure they could handle burying the caps in the sand, then using the long handle on a large battery to blow them.

'Now I'm going to send you up on the hill,' Rawley said. He was talking about Stood's Hill on the opposite side of Long Harbour from Anderson's Cove. Now they were ready for blasting.

The American gave them 50 feet of wire for connecting the dynamite caps to the battery. It took several days to drill enough holes in the cliff. The dynamite was put into the holes, the caps wired and connected to the battery and then it was set off.

'With the first blast we almost got killed,' Henry recalled.

That first blast sent rocks as big as barrels up in the air and they fell everywhere. The foreman said, 'I don't think we'll try as big a one the next time.' There hadn't been enough wire and the men had '…just skinned it.'

Since Rawley had gone to St. John's, they decided to wait until he returned before doing any further blasting. This time, he gave the men 100 feet of wire. He also instructed them to put sticks, boughs, etc. on top of the dynamite to prevent rocks from flying everywhere.

Eventually they blasted a tunnel about 12 or 13 feet into the cliff. They found plenty of florspar. A big diamond drill was brought in and a bunkhouse built at Pissin'-Mare Cove. It was so named because of a single stream of water running down over a high cliff at the back of the cove. It was also a good spot to find blueberries. The bunkhouse was built in that spot of trees and was equipped with a Delco generator to supply electric lights.

After the drill was brought in all the men were working. The florspar was taken out in round pieces about the size of a broom handle in diameter, and seven or eight inches long. Rawley took each sample the drill produced, examined it carefully, then wrote it up in his log.

One day Henry, Gilbert and Cyril were informed by the foreman that Mr. Rawley wanted to see them. Each man was to take with him what he thought was a piece of florspar and a piece of quartz.

Meanwhile, unknown to the others, Henry had been talking to a geologist a few days earlier. Dr. Smith was also prospecting in the area.

'What would you call a good piece of florspar? Is there any in that hole?' Henry asked.

'Oh yes, there's lots of good stuff and plenty of quartz, too,' Smith replied, then showed him samples of both minerals.

All three men now chose their samples and took them to Rawley. Each identified his samples as he handed them over. Mr. Rawley examined each piece but said nothing. The following day, Henry was called up to see the American again.

He wanted Henry to go prospecting and told him to choose his own buddy, whoever he wanted with him. He chose Howard and they set out. Their rate of pay was 89 cents an hour and they usually worked 10-hour days. While out prospecting, they took their guns along in case they might bag a couple of partridge for supper that day.

Their first prospecting trip was up Long Harbour to Gisborne Lake. They walked in the country, rowed across the lake in a dory, and continued on to Grand La Pierre. When they returned, it took three hours to walk from Grand La Pierre to Gisborne Lake, and one hour from the lake out to Long Harbour. They camped overnight on each side of the lake.

For their next trip, Rawley got Ren Pardy to come from Harbour Mille and take them to Terrenceville in his boat. Henry was put in charge, as boss over his buddy, and they were told to get whatever food supplies they wanted.

'If you want meat, get meat, even if you have to drive a cow on ahead of you,' Rawley instructed them.

At Terrenceville, Tom McCarthy's taxi was waiting to take them to their destination. When they reached Winterland, they had to stop for Howard got carsick. They continued on to Grand Bank where they got lost. It was McCarthy's first time in the town. Finally, after several attempts, they found the road leading out of Grand Bank towards Fortune and resumed their journey. At Clawbonnie, Now Fair Isle Motel and Restaurant, a huge bull moose on the road delayed them.

They finally arrived at La Beach Path where they set up camp. They made several trips out to Fortune to restock their supplies. On one such trip, they were walking along when a man in a large dump truck, whom they later learned was Clyde Lou Douglas, picked them up. They usually went to the large store of George T. Dixon Ltd. Where they were served by Jean Ayers (later Smith). The firm's pickup truck took the men and their supplies back to their campsite. After a couple of weeks in this area they moved on.

Arrangements had been made with McCarthy to pick up their rock samples for transportation back to Rawley at Long Harbour. When McCarthy picked up the two prospectors at La Beach Path, he was accompanied by Mike Landon, the Wildlife Officer then stationed at Garnish. Their next stop was at Famine, located between Grand Bank and Grand Beach.

On their second day at Famine, as they were peeling vegetables for supper, some cattle and horses came around, attracted by the vegetable peelings that were being thrown out. Both men huddled at the far side of their tent when the cows poked their curious noses inside. Being unused to such animals, they were both too scared to drive them away. Eventually, when no more handouts were forthcoming, the animals wandered off again.

When they walked up Famine Brook they saw signs indicating the presence of minerals. Henry had learned from Dr. Smith that rocks with holes in them usually means there are minerals in the area. Such rocks are often called 'lucky rocks'. There was nothing to be seen farther up the brook, however, so they went down to the shore and walked towards Grand Beach.

Down on the shore they found a large vein of florspar in the cliff face. Some of this was pure and some was in colours, such as white or purple. All the samples they took were tied up in bags and then labeled with tape. The Famine samples were the best they had found and were quickly dispatched to Rawley.

After about a week at Famine, once again they were in need of supplies. They wanted to put bologna on the list but neither man was sure of the spelling so they wrote down what they thought it sounded like. However, as they were going across Famine Bridge, Howard spotted a bologna case out in the brook. He went after it so they could spell the word right.

One evening a Mr. Hiscock from Grand Beach came by with his horse. He was on his way home from Grand Bank but stayed at the camp long enough for a cup of tea. When Hiscock reached home later, he spoke to Gertie Rideout (nee Bambury of Pool's Cove). He told her about visiting two men in a prospecting camp at Famine, saying: 'Someone must have lots of money because they got plenty of grub packed up in the camp.'

In two or three weeks at Famine, they sent about 100 pounds of samples back to Rawley. Then McCarthy came to take them home, with the word that it was all over. Their samples had shown some really good quality florspar but Rawley could not touch it. When Henry and Howard got back to the mining site, everything was being packed for shipment back to the United States.

The official explanation was that the vein of florspar discovered at Famine ran all the way across the BurinPeninsula to the St. Lawrence Mines. According to the story, Newfoundland Florspar had claim to it, although just how that affected the Long Harbour operations was never quite clear.

Rumors circulated that Rawley had actually been looking for something quite different which he had not found. Still other stories suggested that the whole operation had simply been a tax write-off for some American super-company.

Whatever the reason, the Long Harbour mining operations lasted only a few short months. When everything was packed and shipped, Roy W. Rawley left the area without further explanation. The mine was closed. The bunkhouse was later sold and torn down as well. All that remained was a hole in the side of Stood's Hill.

© F. Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, December 05/January 06

Non Fiction
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