do you remember

Jan 17, 2012

This August 2011 photo was published on the GanderOurTown website and is being presented here for discussion by our classmates. Thank you to this website photographer/webmaster Jim Johnson for granting permission to use this photo in this way.



Hello Faye.  Nice mystery!!
On the attached map from about 1953-54, the area in question would be roughly under the 2nd “N” in National. There are no buildings or structures indicated in this area but they might have been torn down before the map was done,  Maps did however take a fair amount of time to produce in those days so they would still have  reflected earlier information. I would therefore get the impression that was not a major site.  
It was however an area of  junction of the main railway line, of a spur line going to the Air force side and of the road going to  the old Naval radio site (and later of the first road from the Army side to the new town.)

To my mind several things could be excluded:

  • not a normal bldg structure, which would have been of wood and at ground level as per the other bldgs in Gander
  • probably not an anti-aircraft platform, as these were round and not heavy enough to require a concrete base

A good look at the photo leads me to the following :

  • it was small enough not to be considered a map feature worth inscribing
  • having a base of what looks like 12 concrete columns, it would have supported something VERY heavy
  • the very large beams in the photo would also support the heavy weight theory
  • very few items in old Gander needed to be kept of the ground
  • one main reason to keep stuff high up would be to profit from gravity flow for liquids.
  • on the ground by the concrete pillars we con see  what looks like telegraph or hydro poles, as usually found very near a railway line
  • these concrete pillars are near a junction of railway and road, making it an ideal site for a small offload facility of some sort

My conclusion : given the height, solidity and location, it was a structure holding an tank for diesel fuel offloaded from a train and then trucked as necessary to the Naval radio station. That theory depends on the actual distance from the track which can not be seen in the photo
Robert Pelley, GA Class of 1962

I believe that the pillars in question could well have held a liquid container tank of some description. When I was a little fellow, we spent many hours in the woods down in that area, however I have only a hazy memory of the stuff in that area. It was a few years ago you know!!
Dave Robertson, GA Class of 1961

My guess would be a fuel tank for the trains or storage for vehicle fuel unloaded there.
My dad couldn’t recall the location but there were some buildings in the area.
There is an old picture/graphic of Gander base going around which may have it on?
Looking forward to an answer
Thomas Philpott, SP Class of 1967

I believe these concrete pillars held huge storage tanks for gas or oil as Imperial Oil depot was  nearby on the railway or rail siding.
Joe McGuire,
There used to be a fuel storage depot somewhere in that area next to the tracks and the road that crossed the tracks. The tanks were elevated so that tanker trucks could be filled by gravity from them. It is possible that the concrete was the supports for the tanks.
Robert Newhook, GA Class of 1962

We also had pillars like that behind our apartment building on Pattison Rd. (the Met Building). I never could understand what purpose they served.
Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of 1961

Back during the early years of the old airport there was a ESSO bulk plant located in this area in which a train siding led into an area where  gas/oil from Lewisporte would come in and be off loaded. The concrete pillars shown in the pic were where the holding tanks were mounted. This plant was located along side of a road that led from the airport into Beaverwood, Plumberville and the old Navy site. The plant was later torn down and Edgar Baird set up a lumber yard in the same location. 
Jack Pinsent, GA Class of 1960

My guess would be the remains from some military outpost, As I lived in Gander during all of the war I remember many of them, Sometimes we walked to them & some we only heard about. Other than that it could be a building in Cobbs Camp. Tho' I don't think there was anything that permanent in Cobbs.
Eileen Elms, GA Class of 1951

I believe that the concrete monoliths are the supports that held up a building in an Imperial oil plant yard.
The first man that I remember running the plant was Mr. Bill Locke. When he was finished it was taken over by Mr. Albert Gould,and I worked there with him for one year, I think it was 1964.
The plant had a railway siding where I unloaded Furnace oil, Diesel oil, and Gasoline tank cars, which came from Lewisport.  
Leo Lannon, SJ Class of 1957

This looks like it was the base of an oil storage tank at the site of an Imperial oil depot at the intersection of the railway track and the Old Receiver Road.

I walk dogs on an old proximal segment of that road and it lines up with the photographic site. If Clyde Burt is not on this circulation, he might offer comment. There was time when I was in high school that the S .Bus would pick up kids in Beaverwood and take us out to Hunt Memorial from the Town site. Also any of the Baird kids on line might tune in as I think Edgar Baird later had an establishment just north of this, there is still a pile of sawdust left in the woods thereto.
Keep it up
Pete Blackie, GA Class of 1957 I was all set to tell my Stonehenge much for that!
Angus Taylor, GA Class of 1963

Faye, one explanation of the photograph: The area in question was where the railway tracks bringing the aviation gas to Gander from Lewisporte.  In the area there were numerous storage tanks for the fuel and the concrete structures appear to have been supports for the storage tanks or a transfer platform where the fuel was moved to trucks that refueled aircraft. 
Gar Pardy, GA Class of 1956

I agree with Gar Pardy – there was one such platform for refueling tanker trucks down behind Bldg 50 where I lived.  It was not used while I lived there, so, it must have been used during war time. I remember that when the buildings were being demolished around 1955 or later, the DOT came and dug up a number of huge fuel tanks from there. 

The platform back of Bldg 50 had huge pipes that could be turned  and tipped up and down like huge guns.  Needless to say, it served the kids in the area with endless hours of play.  Sometimes, it would be a fort when we were playing cowboys and Indians, other times it would be a battle ship when we were hunting German submarines in the North Atlantic and other times it would be a submarine stalking German destroyers.  Arch Young could give the best “AAA-UUGGAH!  AAA-UUGGAH!  AAA-UUGGAH!  DIVE!  DIVE!” of anyone I knew – almost as good as what one would hear in the movies! 

 There was another one of those down on the Army Side up behind where Chalk's store used to be, I think.  It served as a good parking area in later years.

 The only difference is that these two I mentioned did not have concrete pillars for a foundation – they were all made of wood.  I’m wondering if these pillars are not more recent than even the old airport days – probably when the town first was being developed – would they be close to Navy Road?  Interesting.
Ron Mosher, GA Class of 1959

I'm with Ron and Gar with this one. The area in the photo was also near where the old airplane dump used to be located.
Jim Butler, GA Class of 1959

Thank you everyone for the great conversation on this photo.  It is fantastic to see so many of you willing to share your memory and assist us with questions. It reinforces for me that there is still a lot of untapped memories out there that need to be answered for posterity.

Stay tuned, and I welcome suggestions of future topics or asking others to share memories of people/places/things in Gander that need to be recalled. Also photos are most welcome…any questions contact me
Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Class of 1959



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