Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ocean Falls

What is it that makes Ocean Falls unique? It seems a quiet battlefield of crumbling old structures, whispering of more active and prosperous times in contrast with nature’s ongoing forces of change.
The dam at Ocean Falls still provides power to the communities of OF, Martin Valley, Shearwater and Bella Bella where once it supplied the needs of a large paper mill complex. Bare foundations and rock walls, empty skeletons of houses, dormitories, mill buildings, and a broken section of an Olympic-sized swimming pool litter the area, all reminders of the 5500 people who once lived and worked here. The old hotel once boasted of being the largest hotel north of San Francisco. The post office is still active, as are the marine ways, but most of the sparse population lives a few miles down the road in Martin Valley. Weekly car ferry service and a weekly supply barge from Shearwater connect Ocean Falls with the outside world, and summers bring a stream of cruising boaters.

Man’s imprint is slowly disappearing and being overrun by nature. Nature on the other hand is quite exuberant in Spring. Green shoots emerge from the cracks and fissures in the dam face. Blackberries, lupine, daffodils, and the remnants of old gardens blossom with enthusiastic vigor. Forsythia, quince and cherry add decorative sprinkles of color around the old community.

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