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.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Magical Monhegan Island

Black Head from White Head Cliff

This week I finally got back out to Magical Monhegan.  Monhegan is a small island 12 nautical miles out from the coast and a world away from our 21st century lives.  The island is just 1.75 miles long and .75 miles wide with much of the “development” clustered around the harbor on the east side.  The single dock hosts ferries from Port Clyde, New Harbor and Boothbay, and is protected by the mostly uninhabited rocky island of Manana.  Monhegan has artist galleries, a few guest houses and a couple of seasonal hotels that have surprising good food, but it is the island’s quiet solitude which is its essential feature.  The western side is undeveloped and has tall rocky cliffs facing out to the restless Atlantic rollers.  It is reached only through a system of meandering foot paths. It is a great place for painters, birders, poets and, of course, photographers.  

Misty Manana Island lies across from Monhegan's Harbor

I first visited Monhegan about seven years ago.  It was an all to brief day trip as part of a workshop through Maine Media.  I had enough time to run from the boat across to one spot on the western cliffs and then back to see the lighthouse.  One of the island’s best features is the chance to relax and focus on your art, but that couldn’t be done in one hectic afternoon.  I wanted to go back at least for a week, but an agreement for two days was the most I could get from Susan.  I took the deal!

Angry Passage to Monhegan

Window on Port Clyde

After exploration of the classic Maine fishing village of Port Clyde, we took the ferry for the hour long trip to the island.  The protection of Monhegan’s harbor was welcome after a rough voyage.  We knew that the weather was going to be marginal for our two days so, after quickly settling into our room at the John Sterling House, we ran out to take advantage of the decent conditions for a hike to the cliffs on the western side of the island.  

White Head

The rocky shore is classic Maine, and we worked our way south from Burnt Head to Lobster Cove over irregular terrain.   The Cliff trail is a spectacular combination of dramatic sheer cliffs and paths cut through lovely wild autumn vegetation.  This time of year the Asters are especially thick and colorful.   

Toward the southern end of the island, Lobster Cove features the rusting wreck of the “Sheridan”.  On a fogy night in 1948 this 100-foot ocean-going tug lost its way and fetched up on the rocks.  Most of the islands many wooden wrecks deteriorated quickly, but this iron vessel has remained a reminder of the unforgiving character of the northern Atlantic. 

Wreck of the Sheridan

Monhegan Lighthouse
Keeper's Window
Monhegan’s rocky shore represents a substantial threat to navigation and much has been done to warn passing ships.  Most notable is the Monhegan Lighthouse.  The present brick structure was built in 1850 and is located at the island’s highest point.  It is 47 feet tall and is the second highest lighthouse in the state of Maine.  The lighthouse was automated in 1959 and its surrounding structures are now home to a small but well-arranged museum, covering the natural and social history of the island.

Harbor Inn
Monhegan is definitely a world apart but, at least in season, it is definitely not an isolated wasteland. Our room was nicely appointed and offered a view to the busy little harbor.  Sleeping was wonderful with the fresh sea air and the gentle sounds of the waves lapping on the rocks.  Each night we enjoyed excellent meals at the nearby Harbor Inn and after dinner settled into rockers on the inn’s porch, overlooking harbor and at least a sliver of sunset color.


Filtered Sunset
Our second full day was marked by intermittent light showers.  I’m a photographer, so I love bad weather, but anticipating downpours, we kept closer to home.  We explored the village and the lighthouse museum.  The sunset was filtered by clouds bathing the harbor in a magical pink glow, as the last light faded.

Misty Cliffs and Fairy Villages

Fairy Cottage
The next day dawned clear but with a dense fog.  I love fog and, before our return boat at noon, we managed another hike to the western cliffs.  We wandered through the Cathedral Woods which has an appearance reminiscent of the dense rain forests of the Pacific Northwest.  Hidden in a few of its glades are villages of “Fairy Houses”, which appear to have magically appeared.   We made our way to White Head which offers a view to the cliffs of Black Head located near the northern end of the island.

Marshall Point Blooms

 Marshall Point Light
 Our return trip to the mainland was foggy and uneventful.  Ending up at Port Clyde, I had to make a quick stop at nearby Marshall Point Lighthouse.  The harsh mid-day light was a problem but I have enjoyed visits to the lighthouse in much nicer conditions.  This time I focused on the flowers around the keeper’s house and then surrendered to Susan’s insistence that we get on the road for the long drive home.

Monhegan is a uniquely magical part of the Maine coast.  It is definitely worth a trip.  I will definitely be back.  I would love to settle in for a relaxing week or two, but until Susan is ready to escape to write her great American novel, I may have trouble getting her to dessert civilization for that long.  In the meantime, I have work to do as I wade through the 700 images from this visit.  Perhaps more pictures next week, but autumn is coming! and I have to prepare for my Fall Foliage Workshop coming up on October 14-16th.

I will place images of Monhegan as I get to them in a gallery on my web site.


  1. So evocative I can smell the salt air and hear the gulls calling.

  2. All of these scenes are very natural here . Like these natural photography .