Bell Island was initially settled by farmers in the 1700’s. The discovery of iron ore in the late 1800’s resulted in Bell Island becoming a thriving mining community with the third largest population in the province. However, since the mines closed in 1966 the population has declined. In 1961 Bell Island had a population in excess of 12,000 while the 1996 Census placed it at under 4,000.
Bell Island was one of the the only places in North America to have seen enemy action in World War II. The pier where 80,000 tons of iron ore was stored for shipping was torpedoed by German U-boats in 1942. At low tide you can see the relics of the 4 ships that were sunk during the attack and on shore stands a memorial to the 69 men who lost their lives.