Beauty amongst the ruins

Sunshine bathed Ocean Falls on Saturday afternoon and is doing the same this morning (May 29), and I now understand that the rain DOES fall copiously in Ocean Falls–about 173 in. per year, on average! So we are blessed to be able to see the surrounding mountains and waterfalls.

On Friday night we walked up the dock to the small building called The Shack, where there are tables and chairs and colorful posters picturing the varieties of fish in the area, I was able to dispose of our recyclables, and Wi-fi was very good. On Saturday afternoon we donned our “fowlies” (rain gear) and walked up to the shore to explore. We met some helpful folk who told us about life in the area and pointed out the huge, now- crumbling hotel (400 rooms, once one of the largest in BC), the site of the Crown Zellerbach pulp and paper mill and some remaining buildings (the mill, closed as unprofitable in the 1970s, was once the largest in BC and owned the town that had around 4000 residents at its height and now has about 25 year-round residents ), the huge dam and its operations headquarters, the large salmon hatchery that supplies smolt to various fish farms around the area, the ferry and barge docks (almost all goods arrive via the weekly barge), the boat repair works and tiny gift shop (not yet open for the tourist season), the small operational hotel and ice cream store (also closed at the moment), and the cryptocurrency “mine” that uses gigantic amounts of the electricity supplied by the dam. None of the current businesses seem able to revive a town that was abandoned around 1980 and most of whose homes and commercial buildings were demolished or left to decay and be reclaimed by the forest. Ocean Falls’ story is a depressing one that has been repeated in small company towns all around this part of coastal B.C. as profit-motivated extractive industries gradually destroyed their sources of revenue (fish, timber, clean water, minerals, human labor). In the summer, the town does seem to recover a bit, with about 100 people serving the needs of tourists and boaters.

We walked through the remains of the village and up to the top of the dam, where we were able to view the billowing falls below it and the beginning of 19-mile-long Link Lake behind it. The walk in the drizzle was very beautiful; Walt took pictures of the ruined corporate structures that will accompany an essay he’s working on, and I took the photos of the “rock gardens” along the way that you see below.

By the time we were back near the head of the bay, the sun had pushed aside the clouds and I was able to take the photos below of a vivacious stream leaping down a hillside and of the view from the area above the docks back down Cousins Inlet.

We spent the afternoon reading about Ocean Falls and enjoying the sunshine and sending email; there was no one at the laundry facility (they wash and fold your clothes for a fee), so I decided to wait with that task. I loved watching the clouds play around the mountain that the locals call “Mt. Baldy” and picking out the waterfalls that trail down its flanks.

Can you see the waterfalls on the mountainsides? You can see the dilapidated hotel and the ferry terminal on the left, the dam in the center, some of the old pulp mill buildings toward the right, and the blue cryptocurrency facility on the far right.
Most of the clouds have gone to play elsewhere, and Mt. Baldy, with its black granite, forested, waterfall-laced lower slopes and its snowy crown is in full view. I will add an evening view of the mountain later.

After supper I baked a triple-berry crumble and we planned our Sunday journey. Rain-free weather is predicted!

Mt. Baldy, wrapped in a cottony cloud-scarf, looks over Ocean Falls as the day ends

Don’t forget to look back at earlier posts for added pictures!

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