Anyone driving across the island of Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador, will notice countless names spray-painted on rocks along the highway. On the very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, there’s an inadvertent monument to the art of scrawling words on rocks. Album Rock takes its name from an unusual photograph of 1850s graffiti artists posing beside their work.
The image was the work of Paul-Émile Miot, a French naval officer and amateur photographer who took some of the earliest photographs of Newfoundland. On one of his first voyages to the island, around 1857 through 1859, he had several shipmates paint the word “ALBUM” in painstakingly precise letters on a large rock in Sacred Bay. One sailor stands thoughtfully atop the rock, while three others pose with impromptu painting equipment, including what appears to be a mop.
As the story goes, Miot intended to use the scene as the cover of an album of his Newfoundland photographs. There’s no evidence that the photo was ever used in this way, but for 160 years the landmark has been known as Album Rock.
Though the white words painted on it more than a century ago have long since faded, the name they inspired continues to stick. Today, a small interpretive panel and gazebo beside the rock commemorate Miot’s whimsical photograph.