19 April 2010

Why the Edge of the World?

There has been a rumour going about that before Columbus, mariners believed that the world was flat. Of course, this is not true, but it lead me to speculate about the vikings making their way from Iceland to Greenland to Newfoundland. If they did believe in a flat earth, then surely we must be right at the edge.

Similarly, Newfoundland was the leading edge of North America to the Old World in the heights of ship travel and for most of aviation history. Alcock and Brown made their historic trans-atlantic flight from here, as did Amelia Earheart. Still today, adventurers and fools trying to cross the Atlantic in all manner of vehicles depart from here, including Steve Fossett. Newfoundland was also the edge of one world connected to the other in Ireland by trans-Atlantic cable communications. In both world wars, Newfoundland was the stepping-off point to the European theatre. The USA and Canada often treat us like Newfoundland is a far-off edge of the continent and not worth noticing. Until 911, when most of the airplanes forced to land were diverted here.

A short drive from my house lies 2 significant features. Signal Hill, the highest point in the city, looks far out over the North Atlantic. It was from here that Marconi sent his first wireless trans-Atlantic cable. The other location is Cape Spear, the most easterly point of land in North America. One thing is for sure, if Newfoundland is not the edge of the world, you can see it from here.

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