“Urban exploring is not about breaking the law or vandalism,” says Scott Osmond, urban exploration enthusiast. “It’s a way to explore places that once meant something to someone…”
Osmond is the founder of HiddenNewfoundland.ca. “It was tough to find a good source for all of these places so I decided to make my own!” says Osmond.
HiddenNewfoundland.ca was created to bring to light some of the province’s hidden gems and lesser known locations. While it began exclusively as an urban exploring site, it now encompasses all things hidden and adventurous.
“There are far too many hidden waterfalls, resettled communities, gorges, caves, etc. in Newfoundland to simply not include them as well,” says Osmond.
First off — let’s talk safety. “Abandoned structures and buildings pose enormous risk,” says Osmond. “Asbestos, unstable slopes and buildings, dangerous chemicals, airborne bacteria are all very real dangers faced by many places on my website. The other issue is a legal one: How can someone avoid breaking the law while exploring? “The best way to do this is to do some research, use common sense, and simply not entering [private] property…” says Osmond.
“By doing research, contacting land and building owners before entering and abiding all signs around, it is possible to experience these places safely and of course, lawfully.”
There are lots of great places for first-time explorers, depending where you are on the island. In the St. John’s area, Osmond recommends checking out the Red Cliff Radar Station near Logy Bay or the Argentia Naval Air Station near Placentia.
“Both places allow for some terrific photos and learning opportunities,” says Osmond.“These areas are also quite large, so you can explore without having to go inside, as some of the structures are in rough shape.”
In central,there are old military installations around Botwood. “While some remain in disrepair, others have been maintained and allow for safe exploring through tunnels and bunkers such as the battery at Phillips Head,” says Osmond.
There’s also the Horwood Lumber Mill in Campbellton, where you can explore the concrete structure of the powerhouse and the original grinders from the mill, as well as inside the penstocks and turbine room of the hydro plant that powered the mill. ”Nearby is the eerie concrete dam which was what ended the mill nearly one hundred years ago,” says Osmond.
In western Newfoundland, Osmond recommends the Harmon Air Force Base.“Old hangers, buildings, and magazines bunkers are scattered throughout the town and can be found for those willing to look,” he says. Many places here are in serious disrepair and should be avoided, but the magazine bunkers located north of the town are said to be safer.
Wherever you go, the basic rules of hiking apply: don’t be an idiot. “Urban exploring is not about vandalism, taking souvenirs or breaking the law, it is learning about the unknown and capturing the beauty and adventure that can be found in some of these places,” says Osmond.“The biggest rule of urban exploring is to leave these places exactly how you arrived in them.”