Horwood Lumber Co. Pulp Mill and Hydro Facility in Campbellton
Campbellton, Indian Arm, Notre Dame Bay
Driving northeast from Lewisporte on route 340, you will pass through the small community of Campbellton. Continue driving through the community and you will be brought to the coast where a large concrete structure stands on the shore. This is the remains of an old pulp mill and power plant. This mill was known as the Horwood Lumber Co Pulp Mill.
It was built between 1911 and 1913 by the Horwood Lumber Company because of an increase in price for pulp in American markets. The company had owned many sawmills in the area already and therefore had 370 square kms in timber licenses for the area. In 1911 before construction of the mill, the Horwood Lumber Company also obtained a hydro lease for the Indian Arm Brook in order to build a hydroelectric dam to power the mill. The site was chosen for its proximity to the ocean and nearby Lewisporte which had a railway line passing through it to deliver parts and needed items. The mill officially opened in the summer of 1914 and during that time the Horwood Lumber Company sold one boatload of pulp to New York State in the United States.
The following spring, in 1915 disaster struck when a structural failure in the dam caused it to break. The mill was shut down for the summer. With the price of pulp still high the company saw it worthwhile to fix the dam. Minor repairs were done over the summer but the following spring the dam broke again. The price of pulp had fallen at this time and the Horwood Lumber Company had big financial and debt problems. They then decided that the mill would remain shut down for good. Many workers moved on to work in other mills, specifically the large mill that was being constructed in Glovertown at the time.
Today the powerhouse is the only building left standing. It was built reinforced concrete walls and structural supports and would have had a roof made from wooden slabs. Connected to the powerhouse was a large 100 meters long, 3-meter wide circular penstock that directed water into a large room causing two turbines to rotate inside. The turbines were directly connected to three turbines in the mill next door via a long horizontal shaft that remains there today. The turbines were also capable of producing electricity used to power many company houses and nearby sawmills.
Picture of the turbine room. Water rushing in from the penstock, which can be seen on the right, would have allowed the turbines to rotate, turning the shafts that lead out the hole in the background and connect to the grinders.
Wood would have been fed in through the square opening on the right forcing it into a spinning device that grinded the logs into small pieces.
The Dam and Channel
To get water to the powerhouse a dam roughly 350 meters long, and 5-8 meters high was built across Indian Arm Brook. The dam redirected water to the east side of the river where it was forced down a man-made channel to the penstock.
Before entering the channel it first encountered a manually operated sluice gate where workers could control the amount of water going into the channel or close it off and redirect water back into the river by using the second gate.(Photo Left)
The 350 meter channel was carved into the rock face by explosives and manual labour. It ranges from 5-6 meters wide and up to about 7 meters deep in spots. Many retaining walls were constructed to direct the water. Some of these were very large with lengths up to 50-75 meters long and as high as 4-5 meters. (Photo Upper Left).
The water leads down the channel and entered the intake where it was forced through a large 3 meter wide penstock. Part of the channel was destroyed when the road (route 340) was put through. Located just off the road nearest to the water is where the intake would have been.
It still remains partly a mystery why the dam broke. Obviously, it is likely that spring runoff and an increase in water volume was part of the problem. Engineers who have studied the dam and the mill agree that although the dam was built quick, it was built strong and thorough however it is possible that the dam was not properly secured to the underlying bedrock causing water to get beneath the concrete and erode underneath. It has also been speculated that a possible fissure under the dam allowed water to pass through and erode a stream underneath it.
These are what remains of an old "miniature" locomotive used to transport pulp loads onto the wharf and into the schooner "Nancy Lee" who was built specifically for transporting goods to New York State.
About the Area Today
The area today offers a great place to explore. Near the coast, the powerhouse has many large rooms that are able to be accessed however the 100 year old concrete is very eroded creating a high risk of falling debris. Like exploring any structure a helmet is definitely recommended. About three quarters of the old penstock can be explored however the part closest to the intake is doored off. Located on the opposite side of the road is a small dirt road that leads to a place to park. A trail then travels adjacent to the channel leading through some fishing camps and finally to the old dam.
Sources & Further Exploring
Manuel, W. & McFarlane, M. (1979). The Campbellton Pulp Venture: Its Technological History. Memorial University masters thesis. Retrieved from Memorial University's Center for Newfoundland Studies.
Smallwood, J. R., & Pitt, R. D. W. (1981). Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. St. John's, N.L.: Newfoundland Book Publishers. (Article: “Campbellton”. Available online through the Centre for Newfoundland Studies collections database)