About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Photographic Treasures of Dummerston, Vermont


Spring Sunset, Dummerston, Vermont

Living in Chesterfield New Hampshire, I am fortunate to have easy access both to New Hampshire's Monadnock Region and southern Vermont. There has been much written about the differences between Vermont and New Hampshire. Vermont has the reputation as a softer, rolling countryside while New Hampshire is know for its more dramatic and craggy mountains. Clearly these are silly distinctions, more related to marketing than reality, but there are subtle differences, more in feel than geography. I would be hard pressed to put that difference into words, but I'm just happy to be able to sample both on an easy basis. 




When I head out on a shoot my first decision comes at the end of the driveway where I must choose to turn left for New Hampshire or right for Vermont. It is an interesting choice since traditionally the political directions of the states have been the opposite. It is well understood that the progressive regions of New Hampshire are those that touch Vermont and that is fine for me. As I cross the Connecticut River into Vermont one of my favorite nearby places to explore is Dummerston and this week I would like to highlight some of the best photographic attractions of this lovely and peaceful slice of classic Vermont landscape.

 



Dummerston, Vermont
Dummerston lies just across the Connecticut River from Chesterfield,

Dummerston Back Road
New Hampshire. It is just north of Brattleboro but offers a quick and complete escape from that bustling town. It's 30.8 square miles feature rolling farm land and several classic New England villages. In addition to the Connecticut River on the east, it
Hay Rake Mist
is bisected by the West River, which in earlier times was a source of power for a number of mills. Now the river is a source of beauty and, in the summer, a favorite spot for tubing and white water kayaking. Dummerston has many lovely back roads, excellent for getting lost. There are wonderful photographic opportunities around every turn, but I definitely have my favorites. 




1) Dummerston Covered Bridge
Dummerston Covered Bridge
The 270 foot long Dummerston Bridge is the longest covered bridge still carrying traffic in Vermont. The bridge was built in 1872 to span the West River and offers numerous interesting perspectives. My favorite location has always been from downstream, looking back on the bridge with the hills in the distance, but I keep coming back to find fresh inspiration. 


 













2) Black Mountain
Just downstream from the covered bridge Black Mountain rises dramatically above the north bank of the river and is part of the 593

Pitch Pine on Black Mountain Summit
acre Black Mountain Conservation Area. The 1280 foot summit can be accessed from Rice Farm Road on the east side of the West River, but a much easier trail starts on the other side of the mountain off Black Mountain Road. This trail winds about 1 mile through a peaceful and varied woodland and provides a lot of reward for modest effort. The summit is well worth the short walk, providing lovely views along the Connecticut River Valley and east to distant Mount Monadnock. The rock outcroppings at the top provide great places for rest and contemplation, so be sure to bring a snack. Also notice the Scrub Oak and Pitch Pine trees around the summit. Both are quite rare in Vermont. 


3) Stickney Brook Falls
One of my favorite nearby cascades is along Stickney Brook just
before it reaches the West River. The area features a series of short falls and cascades as the brook tumbles past the location of a old mill site. The intensity of the falls vary greatly depending on the weather and supply of water. It is especially exciting during spring run-off or any time after a heavy rain. During the summer, the Brook's pools are a popular refuge from the heat. The falls are easy to find on Stickney Brook Road off of route 30. 



Stickney Falls


Orchards
Scott Farm Orchard & Mt Wantastiquet

Dwight Miller Orchard
Dummerston offers a number of beautiful orchards featuring an wide variety of apples and other native fruits. They also provide beautiful vistas for photography throughout the year, but especially during the brief spring blossom season. Dwight Miller and Sons Orchard (4) is located in East Dummerston. A drive up Miller Rd reveals long views to the north and east with a foreground
Connecticut River from Scott Farm
dominated by the hilltop orchard. In addition to their certified organic apples & cider, they feature peaches, pears, blueberries, and strawberries. The Scott Farm (5)is known for its wide variety of rare antique apple varieties. The orchard is on a hillside with dramatic views of the Connecticut River Valley and Mount Wantasiquet. In addition to great produce the farm is host to weddings and other events. I have attended a couple of weddings on the hillside and I can testify that the location is breathtaking. 

Scott Farm Rainbow
Orchard Vows



6) Walker Farm
In season drop by Walker Farm on Route 5.  The farm well deserves its ranking as one of Yankee Magazine's top 5 Nurseries and Garden Centers in New England.  The farm stand is always packed with the best 
seasonal fruits and vegetables, but my favorite is the extensive green houses, whose colorful flowers provide a desperately needed splash of spring just when I need it most.  I've talked before about using the greenhouses to cheat with my flower photography.  Within the shelter the blooms are always softly lit and there is no wind to smear my long exposures.  The staff is always helpful. Just be sure your tripod doesn't trip the customers!


7) Rudyard Kipling
Dummerston is also the location of "Naulakha" , Rudyard Kipling's

Naulakha
country home, where he wrote the Jungle Books and Captains Courageous. It is also where he invented Snow Golf. In the winters of the 1890's Kipling challenged guest to hit red painted golf balls into red cups that had been placed in the snow around the property. The game offered special challenges especially since a drive could occasionally skitter two mile down the icy slopes  into the Connecticut River.



Dawn Pasture, Dummerston
Dummerston has many special locations, but for me the greatest attraction is that a peaceful meander along the town's back roads almost always yields something new and classically New England.  The town is like many in New England, but  for me its proximity makes it easy to cruise by whenever I have an hour or two to explore. Most New Englanders have their own nearby treasures. With regular visits in all seasons and weather you will be  surprised how much beauty you can find in your own special corner of our unique region.

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