Isles of Shoals
Smuttynose Murders
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Disposable Camera Tour
A Smuttynose Sunrise
August 2000
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Trail sign

It's 5:30 am in August and we're about to take you on a privileged tour of our favorite spot in the Isles of Shoals. Privately owned, Smuttynose Island is closed to visitors between dusk and dawn, but our Disposable Camera Crew has obtained permission to show you spectacular scenery only gulls enjoy. Watch out, though. On this particular morning, the trail is thick with poison ivy, swampy and bug infested.

Gulls overhead

They may look serene, but at the first hint of light these gulls begin a fearsome racket that continues for much of an hour. We've just moved from the cove and begun walking the trail on the western side of the island. Near this spot as early as the 1840s, the Midocean House of Entertainment lodged fishermen and hardy tourists, writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and his college chum Franklin Pierce among them. Only the foundation remains today.

Nearing 6am

Nearing 6am and the far end of the island is a primitive habitat of swarming gulls. In nesting season, this would be an almost impossible trek since gulls will swoop and attack visitors. The area is strewn with crab and muscle shells and the bones of dead gulls cannibalized by the living. The visitor swears the gulls are speaking almost intelligible words, and in the background waves of chanting birds seem to be conducting an eerie ritual.

Stone Cairn

We've made it to the relative safety of the stone cairn. No one knows who built this stone structure which has become today an altar for flocks of gulls who, with the muskrats, are the dominant life forms at this end of Smuttynose Island.


Disposable photos by J. Dennis Robinson
Copyright © 2000 All rights reserved.

See much more on Smuttynose Island
See sunrise on nearby Star Island

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Site label
PO Box 7158
Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03802
Voice: 603-427-2020

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