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Cape Race, Newfoundland

The Illustrated London News, vol.39, no. 1104, p. 193.

August 24,1861

The great point of interest on the south coast is Cape Race—the subject of Illustration—as it is the point of land which nearly all the steamers running to New York, Boston, and Portland endeavour to make. The coast at Cape Race is bold and rocky, the cliffs rising precipitately out of the water, cracked and split asunder in many places by some great convulsion of nature; a huge black rock lifts its head up out of the deep water immediately in front of the Cape; the eternal wash of the Atlantic has worn deep hollows, and in some cases masses of rock stand out isolated from the great granite wall that breaks the ever-restless ocean that thunders against it. On top of the cliffs, a short distance from the edge, is a well-built lighthouse painted white and striped with red vertical stripes, which distinguishes it from the lighthouse on Cape Pine, an important point of the coast, about thirty miles west of Cape Race, where the lighthouse is striped with horizontal red stripes.

Cape Race is also the terminal point eastward of that remarkable system of telegraph lines which extends throughout the whole of the United States and the British possessions. The Americans delight in the telegraph, and use it continually for every sort of purpose, and in a way and extent that Europeans have no notion of. From this lonely rock, standing out in the Atlantic amid fogs and storms, European news is flashed to the most distant parts of America. From Boston to New Orleans the newspapers have it, print it, and the intelligence is old when the ship arrives at New York, three or four days after passing Cape Race.

As there is no place on this iron-bound coast where ships can touch at, peculiar means must be adopted to catch the European news on its way west. The Associated Press of America therefore employ vessels to cruise constantly in the neighbourhood of the Cape, and board the outward-bound steamships. Having got the important intelligence, they hasten to the shore, and forward their dispatch by wires passing through Newfoundland, across the sea between it and Breten Island, and afterwards the Gut of Chanseau, through Nova Scotia, across the head of the Bay of Fundy, to the United States.

This arrangement of telegraph brings Europe practically within seven days of America. Thus the Cunard ships leaving New York on Wednesday are off Cape Race the following Sunday; being there boarded by the telegraph-boat, they receive the New York news up to that time; on the following Sunday that ship arrives at Cork harbour, Ireland, when its news is instantly forwarded to London. And the same on the outward-bound voyages.

Since the introduction of the electric telegraph this lonely mass of storm-washed rock, whose existence was scarcely known to any one except the mariner, who sought it only that he might know his whereabout and carefully avoid it, has become as well known and its name as familiar as is that of New York or Boston. It would be difficult to take up an American newspaper now without finding a paragraph headed "Latest News from Europe, viâ Cape Race."

On the western side of the States the telegraph ends at the Missouri River; but, as the States on the west side of the Rocky Mountains arei [sic] as anxious for early news as the Yankees themselves, the latest intelligence from Europe, being passed through to the Missouri, is then taken up by a remarkable line of communication called the Pony Express—a line of small, fleet horses being maintained across the great plains, over the Rocky Mountains, to San Francisco. On arrival of the telegraph from Cape Race at St. Joseph, on the Missouri, a horse starts at a gallop on its journey west. Every twenty-five miles a fresh horse is employed to carry the telegraph message. The journey of two thousand miles is thus accomplished in about nine days, so connecting California with England in little over a fortnight.

Previous: [The New Orleans Picayune]Articlevol.39, no. 1104, p. 192. (3 paragraphs)
Next: The Civil War in AmericaArticlevol.39, no. 1105, p. 208-209. (27 paragraphs)
Article List for: Illustrated London News: Volume 39

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