Rushy Pond Siding-Waterchute and the Places in Between.
Prior to 1905 the first place in the immediate Grand Falls-Windsor Area to be permanently inhabited by European-Newfoundlanders was a place called Rushy Pond Siding.
Initially the settlement must not have consisted of much, housing for the section crew that took care of the railway line between Bishop’s Falls and Badger Brook. There wasn’t much at these settlements either, the closest real settlement on the line being Norris Arm. Situated so near the Exploits River, the site was also the location of a supply depot operated by one of the companies cutting pine for a mill in Botwood or Norris Arm (most likely the Exploits Lumber Company or its predecessors out of Botwood) during the 1890’s. Besides the railway section crew there was also a watering pipe or chute to fill the tanks of locomotives crossing the island, this is how the place also became known as Waterchute.
Rushy Pond Siding, Rushy Pond Waterchute or Watershute was a small community near the Grand Falls Golf Course. The name Rushy Pond often applied to the two railway sidings of Red Cliff and Rushy Pond (Waterchute). One of the first residents was a trapper by the name of William Beaton who was noted to have moved from here to Badger in 1905 (Evening Telegram October 16, 1905). The isolation of the area would be greatly diminished after 1905 with the building of the Grand Falls mill, which brought with it large scale logging and driving through the area. Besides woods operations there was development of a Company Farm close by between the actual Rushy Pond and the Exploits River. A road was built to this farm around this same time.
In the mid 1930’s the road between Grand Falls and Badger was completed, making the area more accessible from Grand Falls and Windsor. The little community had a population of 25 in 1935, 41 in 1945 and by 1956 the population had grown to 70 (though this may be because of a number of people having moved in to nearby Red Cliff, which was likely included in the enumeration.) At one point around this this time there was even a Church of England School located there. The school closed by the 1960’s and children remaining there attended school in Windsor. Some of the family names present at Waterchute included Bown, Hobbs, Dyke, Wickens, Elliott and Hong.
The 1945 census lists a number of people and families living on the road between Grand Falls and Badger besides those mentioned above. Besides the previously mentioned families at Waterchute, there were two families of Whites at Red Cliff, where they were farming, a family of Rowe’s at Leech Brook, the family of George Manual somewhere on the road, plus two older men living alone: a Mr. John Sheppard, who is listed as a snowshoe maker at place called “Sheppard’s Camp” and a trapper by the name of Nicholas Bourgeois living at Cassandra (Brook or Siding). Other than those farming or trapping, most of the men living along the Badger Road and at Waterchute either worked as laborers at the Grand Falls mill or worked in logging.
Ten years previous in 1935 a number of household heads were listed as trappers or farmers. It is interesting to note that men from the Trinity Bay area were noted to have spent the winters in the area trapping around the time of the First World War (Evening Telegram 1917) . There was still one person farming at Farmdale in 1935 even though the Company farm had closed a number of years earlier. James Wickens was a contractor foreman for the AND Company and appears to have had the largest house in the little hamlet.
For many years Waterchute was the last campsite along the Exploits for log drivers driving logs on the “Main River Drive.” There was an area where the divers would put up tents to sleep. From here the river boats would be loaded on railcars ans shipped back to Badger or Millertown. In most years the duties of the driving crews would end here.
Originally the Badger-Grand Falls road passed though the little community of Waterchute. Houses were located on either side of the road, with the majority of them being on the North side of the road. When the Trans-Canada Highway was routed through the area around 1964-65 the route planned to passed directly through where most of the houses were. Chances are, this caused most of the families to move from this location. The dieselization of the railway in the 1950’s eliminated the need for watering points. Some of the families moved to nearby Windsor. Today there are still around 70 or more people living at Red Cliff, mostly along the old Badger Road.
Today apart from a couple of cabins situated near the river it is difficult to tell there was once a small community at this location. Regretfully I do not have a picture of the community or any of the houses that were situated there.