July 22, 2014

Find Maine History, Great Views at Dodge Point in Newcastle

If you find yourself needing a peaceful walk during your Maine vacation at our bed & breakfast, try the trails at Dodge Point.

This beautiful land preserve along the Damariscotta River is just 3 miles south of the Newcastle Inn on River Road.

The property has some rich history and is important to the region’s ecology as well. It has more than 8,000 feet of shoreline along the Damariscotta River that includes pocket sand and pebble beaches, some great vistas,  freshwater ponds and stream-cut ravines.
The 508-acre peninsula’s ecology includes old growth trees and some critical plant communities. Native American shell heaps and the site of a brick-making operation from the late 1800s provide evidence of how humans have used the land. During the 19th century, about 200 people worked at some 30 brickyards in the area.
Dodge Point slopes gently from a height of 240 feet to the river. At some places, cliffs offer views several miles downriver.
Today the local economy relies on oyster farming along the lower river. Because Dodge Point remains undeveloped, the oyster farms benefit from the unpolluted runoff into the river, which keeps the water quality high.
Outdoor recreational activities at Dodge Point include hiking, cross-country skiing, skating, swimming and fishing.

Four loop trails cross the property. The Shore Trail is the longest at 2.8 miles. In summer, visitors can follow a self-guided tour by borrowing a “Discovery Trail map” from the kiosk. The map offers descriptions of 27 different plant species along the trails. During the winter, ice skaters use the pond.

The 1.2-mile Ravine Trail is steeper and more challenging. It’s not as crowded, and quiet hikers can often see fox, raccoon, squirrels, deer and an occasional moose.

The Land for Maine's Future Board acquired the Dodge Point property on behalf of the State of Maine from the Edward W. Freeman Trust in March 1989. The Damariscotta River Association and the Maine Coastal Program also pooled funds to acquire the land for future generations to enjoy.

There are no facilities at Dodge Point, and visitors are asked to follow a carry-in/carry-out policy. Open fires are not permitted, although self-contained camp stoves may be used for picnics.

July 15, 2014

Pemaquid Gallery Spreads The Word about Art

The Pemaquid Art Gallery, located on Pemaquid Point in Lighthouse Park in Bristol, has been showing art since 1928. The gallery features Maine artists, some of whom have national reputations. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from June to October. The best part is it is only 25 minutes away from Newcastle Inn.

This gallery’s main goal is to educate local residents and visitors about the importance of art and enhance the community of Bristol. The gallery is one of several highlights for Lighthouse Park visitors.

Will Kefauver is among the artists featured in the gallery. For the most part, Will draws inspiration from past memories of visiting places throughout his travels in New York and New England and wants to draw connections to the fond memories that he has experienced. He tries to draw out the mood of the landscapes that he is seeing through his work and uses his art to describe how the scenery is speaking to him.

Another featured artist, Judy Nixon, is originally from the Worcester, MA, area and moved to Maine in the mid ‘90s. Painting was just a hobby, but she took it more seriously after moving to Maine and being inspired by the coastlines, gardens, inland waterways, country fields, and quiet forests. Her paintings have been featured in the Bristol Public Library, Bremen Library, Boothbay Harbor Library and KeyBank in Boothbay Harbor.

The Pemaquid Art Gallery does a lot of work within the community to give back in the hopes that others will teach about the arts and why they are important. The gallery donates to local organizations to promote art education and has donated money to local schools. To learn more about the events and the other things the Pemaquid Art Gallery is doing to promote the arts and see some other the other artists featured, visit the gallery website.  


July 8, 2014

La Verna Preserve Features Thick Forest, Rocky Beach

Few areas in Maine can provide a snapshot of Maine’s natural beauty and geologic history like the La Verna Preserve in nearby Bristol.

The 120-acre preserve is just one of many outdoors places to visit during a stay at Newcastle Inn. The preserve has 2.5 miles of walking trails that take visitors through thick forest, across overgrown farmland and along a 3,600-foot shoreline that ranges from rocky to sandy.

The northern portion of the preserve is thickly wooded with red oak, white birch, red and white spruce, and white pine as the dominant species. The southern portion is populated by dense stands of white and red spruce approximately 60 to 100 years old.

The center of the preserve, however, reflects more of the land’s human history. Stone walls, cellar holes, and stone piles bear witness to early settlers. Abandoned long ago, the land is filling in with high bush blueberry, red raspberry, white pine, sweet fern, bracken fern, and huckleberry.

The shoreline ranges from the steeply sloping ledges near the southern tip of Brown’s Head to the beach at Leighton’s Cove. The most abundant type of rock along the shore of the preserve is metamorphic rock, formed by heat and pressure at some time in its history. Most of the rocks here are thinly layered, with the layers tilted in various directions. The coastal bedrock also contains igneous rock, which was formed when molten rock cooled and hardened.

The Pemaquid Watershed Association accepted the formal transfer from The Nature Conservancy of the preserve in the village of Chamberlain in Bristol, Maine, in 2009. The entrance to the preserve is along Route 32, about 12 miles south of the Newcastle Inn. We can help with directions.

July 1, 2014

Damariscotta Artist Brings Color to Life in Maine

Artist Jan Kilburn gives watercolor painting a whole new meaning.

Jan, one of many prominent artists who live and work in Midcoast Maine, has a keen eye for detail and her vibrant paintings of gardens, homes and harbors practically pop off the canvas.

Her gallery at 168 Bristol Road, Damariscotta, is just a couple of miles from Newcastle Inn.  Vacationers in Maine who are exploring the Maine arts scene will want to visit this gallery, where you can see how Jan brings her watercolors to life. She gathers inspiration from her home in Damariscotta, the surrounding area and from the New England coast.

If you are in the area during a long weekend you can check out the art shows and exhibitions, which are only offered the third Friday of every month from June to October from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Jan’s gallery is open year round, and you can call 207-563-8363 to confirm that Jan herself will be there and that the gallery will be open when you are planning to visit.

If you feel like taking your artistic skills to a new level, Jan also teaches watercolor classes in Damariscotta, Portsmouth, and Saco/Ocean Park. More information about Jan's art classes can be found on her website. The classes are reasonably priced and will help you shape your own perspective of the coast of Maine.

June 23, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere for Fishing in Maine

Whether you enjoy freshwater or saltwater fishing, Maine is the state to visit.

Freshwater fishermen vacationing in Maine can expect to find more than 50 species of fish. The state contains more than 5,700 lakes totaling more than 962,000 acres, and there are nearly 32,000 miles of brooks, streams and rivers flowing through Maine.

Fishermen who enjoy lakes and streams will find plenty of trout along with landlocked Atlantic salmon, charr, whitefish, bass, pickerel, musky and even northern pike. Maine does require a fishing license. You can review Maine’s fishing license fees and then purchase a license online. Licenses also are available at local sporting goods and drug stores, information centers and convenience stores.

Trails.com has some recommendations for fishing locations, and you can also hire a Maine guide or plan a river fishing trip through a charter like Superfly Charters, which typically sails from a marina in Bath.

For those who enjoy angling on salt water, the glacier-carved inlets and peninsulas give Maine a longer coastline than California, and there are plenty of opportunities to charter fishing trips.

Superfly, also runs charters for saltwater fishing. Starting in late May, the coast of Maine is invaded by a “thousand mile long convoy” of ravenous striped bass that pour into the numerous coastal rivers and bays to feed on vast schools of baitfish.

June offers nearly non-stop action with “schoolie” stripers in the 18- to 30-inch range. By July, Bluefish join the fray with amazing surface “blitzes” that churn the waters. Huge striped bass cruise the flats & lie in deep rips attacking any bait that passes by. August often sees the arrival of “football” Bluefin tuna, in the 50- to 200-pound range that crash into frantic bait balls on the surface of near shore waters with action that lasts through the fall. September through October offers action on striper, bluefish, and “football” tuna as acres and acres of fish gorge themselves on, herring, sand eels and Atlantic mackerel.

If you’re planning to have your fishing gear with you while staying at the Newcastle Inn, we’ll help find some great fishing spots.

June 16, 2014

Damariscotta Artist Finds Stories in Discarded Objects

With his detailed sketches and paintings, artist John Whalley gives life to things that otherwise would be considered used up and discarded.

Whalley, who lives in Damariscotta Mills and is practically a neighbor of Newcastle Inn, is known for the extraordinary detail he gives to objects like old books, fountain pen tips, fishing hooks, old bottles, pencils and even sea shells. His art, done in graphite, oil, watercolor and egg tempera, tells a story about each of the objects – how it was made and how it was used before ending up in Whalley’s studio.

But Whalley’s art tells only part of the story of his own love of discarded things. For many years he has worked with homeless “street children” in places around the world, from Florida to Brazil. He has volunteered at the New Horizons Youth Ranch in central Brazil, which helps boys who are neglected, abused, live in extreme poverty or are abandoned. Life at the ranch includes classroom learning and vocational training. In addition to his volunteer work, Whalley has contributed to the ranch with sale of his artwork and books.

The artist was born in Brooklyn in 1954, but grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State. He and his family lived for a time in rural, northern Pennsylvania, too. He loved the country and the objects that he collected on his forays to antique sales and shops. He studied illustration, drawing and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. For a time he contributed art to a variety of New England publications.

While living in Pennsylvania, he developed a therapeutic art program for abused and abandoned children at an orphanage on a 300-acre farm. His time there inspired much of his early work.

Over the years, Whalley's work was exhibited widely in the museums of the Rhode Island School of Design, Purdue University, The University of Wisconsin at Eu Claire, University of Florida, and the University of Georgia at Athens. Exhibitions of his work have also included the Sheldon Swope Museum of Art, Dedland Museum of Art, The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, South Bend Regional Museum of Art, the Tampa Museum of Art, and The Coral Springs Museum of Art.

Some of Whalley's new work will be featured July 3 to Aug. 2 in an exhibition called "Book of Days" at the Greenhut Galleries in Portland.  His work also is featured in two books, “John Whalley – American Realist,” and “In New Light.” If you wish to visit his studio, email the artist at john (at) johnwhalley.com.

June 9, 2014

Evidence of Prehistoric Culture in Damariscotta Region

An early photography of the Whaleback Shell Midden.
A vacation in the Midcoast region of Maine can be a relaxing escape, but it can also be a journey more than 2,000 years back in time.

The neighboring towns of Newcastle, home of Newcastle Inn, and Damariscotta have a rich colonial history dating to 1630. Along the banks for the tidal Damariscotta River, however, are some unusual archeological features that illustrate the lives of prehistoric Native Americans more than 20 centuries ago. Those early people came to the riverbanks to harvest oysters and left behind giant mounds of shells called middens – essentially trash heaps.

Evidence from these shell middens show that these people harvested oysters in late winter/early spring probably coinciding with the annual mid May migration of alewives. During the rest of the year, these natives traveled inland to farm and hunt, and there is no evidence of permanent settlements at these sites.

The alkaline composition of the shells  preserved fragments of pottery and bones people used to shuck the oysters. The Whaleback Shell Midden is a state historic site, and explorers can hike to it. The midden was actually mined and the crumbled shells were used as chicken scratch in the late 19th century. The pile no longer resembles the creature for which it was named.

Although English settlers arrived in the region within a decade of the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock, early villages were raided by Native Americans and were either wiped out or abandoned. The construction of Fort Frederick in 1729 successfully defended the area from two more Indian attacks, and permanent settlements began to grow in the 1730s.

In 1753, Newcastle was the first town to be incorporated within the colonial territory of Sagadahoc. It was named for the Duke of Newcastle, the King’s primary secretary and a friend of the colonies. Newcastle was a large and thriving ship-building town. Lincoln Academy, the region’s high school, was built in 1801. St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, completed in 1808, is the oldest Catholic Church in New England.

Damariscotta was incorporated in 1848. Shipbuilding created wealth during the 1800s, when clipper ships were launched at the town shipyards. During that time, many beautiful examples of Federal, Greek Revival and Italianate architecture were built, creating a charm that still attracts tourists.

The town is the peninsula’s year-round commercial center, with shops, galleries, and restaurants. It’s home to several historic landmarks, arts organizations, and the Damariscotta River Association, a community land trust — all dedicated to preserving the area’s rich cultural and natural heritage.

A bridge over the Damariscotta River links Newcastle and Damariscotta, which now are often referred to as the Twin Villages.

We’re proud of our region’s rich heritage and hope you will enjoy it, too, as guests of Newcastle Inn.