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.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Naming Stuff

Beaver Pond, Madame Sherri Forest

What's in a Name

One of the advantages of being a member of a conservation commission is the opportunity to name stuff.   For years,  I have been lucky to be a part of an active conservation commission in my home town of Chesterfield New Hampshire.  We have worked hard to protect of our public lands and in the construction and maintenance of an extensive system of trails. We have built and maintained over twenty-five miles of trails.  It has always been our feeling that by improving the accessibility of our beautiful natural lands, we could better impress our neighbors with the importance of their carefully preservation.  I especially love blazing new trails to seldom explored portions of our lands.  The fact that generations to come will enjoy the peace and beauty of these forest paths gives me the sense of contributing to a priceless legacy.

A side benefit of this work is that we get to name stuff!  New trails, scenic vistas and even the occasional swampy bog all require names and, although our approach to this task is usually logical, it can sometimes be a bit random. 

Ice Storm on East Hill

It is surprising that there has been so little debate over our naming process.  Often the titles seem obvious, based on the topography.  The hill to the east of Indian Pond in the
Ancient Oak Trail
Madame Sherri Town Forest has expansive views to the east and west from a couple of nice outlooks.  We cut the trail to include these views and when it  came to naming the hill on the map, East Hill seemed the obvious choice.  Other trails are named for obvious defining features, such as the Ancient Oak and Cemetery Trails in the Friedsam Town Forest.  The story behind "Moon Ledge" overlook on Daniel's Mountain is more complex and mysterious and must remain so. 

Moon Ledge Gathering - Don't Ask
Honoring Heroes
Our greatest honor comes when we can name things after people who have contributed to the special quality of life in our little rural community. It is a tangible link to our important past and a reminder that although much has been done to protect our special corner of New England, there is always more work ahead.

The Friedsam Town Forest

Friedsam's Giant Red Oak
The 220 acre Friedsam Town Forest is a precious conservation resource easily
accessible in the heart of Chesterfield and was a generous gift from the Friedsam family. The forest is typical new growth from old farm and pasture with old stone walls, streams, several old growth trees and interesting rock formations.  Originally the forest had just one, marginally maintained, trail, but with the dedicated work of the Conservation Commission, it now offers four different trails and three parking areas. The forest is popular year round, but is especially busy this time of year, since it is posted against hunting.  Reassuring for families, but we still recommend wearing orange.

Sargent Trail

Work Around the Ravine Bridge
on the Sargent Trail
The Sargent Trail was the  original path passing through Friedsam Town Forest and was named to remember Doug Sargent.  Doug was a promising young Chesterfield resident who died tragically in a car accident shortly after graduating from University of New Hampshire.  The Trail is a 45 minute walk through varied terrain between the Upper and Lower Lots on the Twin Brook Road. The trail crosses over the Ravine Bridge, passes by a natural pothole, and two giant trees; an ash and black cherry.

Audrey's Meander and Bench
Audrey Ericson was a much admired elementary School teacher in Chesterfield.  She loved to take her students on hikes in Friedsam

Audrey and Her Bench
Town Forest and promoted the building of a trail along a lovely stretch of Twin Brook in the Forest. Audrey retired in 1994 and it seemed highly appropriate to name her favorite trail  "Audrey's Meander". This year we had new signs made for the trail and Trail Steward Ray Dunn built a wonderful bench overlooking the brook. Recently, we surprised Audrey for the dedication of "Audrey's Bench". She was thrilled that the bench will be a place of beauty and contemplation for generations to come and she looks pretty good on it as well.

For more images of the dedication check out my Audrey's Bench Gallery

Anne Stokes Loop / Madame Sherri Forest

  The 488 acres of the Madame Sherri Forest was generously

Ann at the Dedication
donated for conservation to the Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests by Anne Stokes. The Chesterfield Conservation Commission constructed a loop trail through the forest, covering nearly 2 miles and providing an interesting tour of both the Madame Sherri Forest and the James O'Neil Sr. Forest. Of course the trail was named the "Ann Stokes Loop Trail".  Formally dedicated October 17th, 1998, it has become one of the most popular trails exploring the natural beauty of Chesterfield. The loop includes a visit to Indian Pond as well as the excellent views of East Hill and covers widely varying terrain.

The Madame's "Castle" in the Woods

Madame Sherri Knew How to Strut

The forest is named for the eccentric Madame Antoinette Sherri. Madame Sherri, who had worked as a costume designer for the Zigfield Follies in the 1920s, had built her country "Castle" in the woods of Chesterfield. She became famous (or infamous) for the parties she threw for visitors from the city and was said to have driven about the town
Castle Remains
during the summer wearing a fur
coat and nothing else. Madame Sherri died in 1965 at the age of 84 but for many years prior the castle had fallen to neglect and vandalism. On October 18, 1962 it was destroyed by fire. The foundation, chimneys and a grand stone staircase from the once magnificent house can still be seen adjacent to the Madame Sherri Forest.  The Madame Sherri Forest is the jumping off point for the Ann Stokes Loop Trail and the Daniels Mountain Trail.

James O'Neil Forest

The James O'Neil, Sr. Forest is an 80-acre woodland on the Gulf

O'Neil Family at the Dedication
Road in Chesterfield, NH. This parcel
 is part of the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Greenway Project. The forest was named after James O'Neil, Sr.  The dedication ceremony, on November 5, 2005, was attended by his family and towns people. James O'Neil, Sr. was an outstanding citizen and statesman who raised his family in Chesterfield. His public service included town moderator, member of the Chesterfield Conservation Commission, chair of School Board, chair of State School Board and Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He was active in the establishment of the Friedsam Town Forest and Pisgah State Park. Jim had a remarkably deep and resonant voice that always talked sense.  You always wanted him on your side in any debate. His lifelong dedication to the Town of Chesterfield will be remembered by future generations as they enjoy the beauty of the James O'Neil, Sr. Forest.

Naming Stuff is great fun and it is especially exciting when we can celebrate the contributions of just a few of the remarkable people who have made our little town such a special place.  So come and enjoy our wonderful and historic trails.  Or better yet join you own local conservation commission and start naming your own stuff!

For more information about our stuff, check out the Chesterfield Conservation Commission Website.

Jeffrey Newcomer


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