JACKMAN — It had slowly been getting dark for about 10 minutes. But at just about 3:28 p.m., it was like a flip of a switch as the moon fully blocked the sun.

Stars began to come out and the horizon glowed a shade of greenish-yellow.

The crowd of about 300 at a muddy Pomerleau Memorial Park, overlooking Wood Pond in Jackman, erupted in cheers.

Viewers watch the total solar eclipse Monday afternoon from near the Jackman Town Office. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

People shouted, “Holy moly!” and “It looks like a black hole!”

“That was so amazingly beautiful,” said Pam Little, 55, who drove up to Jackman from Pittsfield with her husband, Shaun Little, and daughter, Damien Little. “It was an emotional experience.”

“It was worth getting my feat soaked,” Little added, after taking in the three-minute astronomical phenomenon.


The sun’s corona is shown Monday afternoon as the moon moves directly into its path over Jackman. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The audience of eclipse watchers at the park were among thousands from around the country to have descended upon the tiny northern Maine town of Jackman ahead of Monday afternoon’s total solar eclipse. Near the center line of the so-called path of totality, where the moon completely blocks the sun, Jackman boasted one of the longest eclipse durations in all of Maine.

Officials put an early estimate of visitors to the region at about 10,000, based on early traffic information, Jackman fire Chief Bill Jarvis said at a 1 p.m. news conference.

Up and the down the U.S. Route 201 corridor in Somerset County, business owners, officials and locals braced in recent weeks for a crowd of eclipse watchers seeking totality.

By midmorning, it was clear in Jackman, which has a population of about 730, that its prediction was correct.

Eclipse watchers prepare Monday afternoon to observe the total solar eclipse near the Jackman Town Office. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“Nothing even comes close,” said Bill Duffy, who was sitting outside his house on Main Street (Route 201) with his wife, Michelle, taking in the crowd. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I’ll admit that.”

Vehicles were parked on both sides of Route 201 from one end of town to the other. Some businesses were charging upwards of $50 for parking, while others had signs informing travelers that their lots were open only to customers or patrons. Busses carrying students from across Maine began to arrive shortly after 11 a.m.


Traffic was still moving, albeit slowly, though deputies from the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office were patrolling the town and telling drivers and pedestrians to keep the road clear.

Public safety officials from multiple agencies, including U.S. Border Patrol and the Maine Warden Service, were monitoring traffic cameras and emergency calls from a makeshift incident command center at the Jackman Town Office.

At an afternoon press conference, Jarvis estimated some 10,000 people had come to Jackman to watch the total solar eclipse, which exceeded expectations. Officials were seeing significant traffic backups in Skowhegan and Solon and on the interstate, and asked people to be patient and courteous.

Businesses in Jackman were making the most of the record crowd.

A line extended out the door all morning at Mama Bear’s Restaurant at 420 Main St. Food trucks and other vendors selling everything from maple syrup to T-shirts set up at several locations throughout town.

At Bishop’s Store at 464 Main St., cashier Max Cavanaugh said a steady stream of customers had come into the store all morning, buying food and coffee.


“It’s been very busy,” Cavanaugh said. “The 2022 moose lottery comes close, but nothing like this, for sure.”

Travelers began arriving in Jackman over the weekend, according to many people in town.


Whether by car or air, the crowd came from around the country.

License plates from 26 states could be seen Monday morning in Jackman, including from Alaska, California, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

The forecast for clear skies drew many to a corner of northern Maine. The National Weather Service recommended northern New England as the best place to watch the eclipse. Clouds and storms were forecasted along much of the path of totality, the National Weather Service said, which in the United States extends from Texas to Maine.


Karrie Klug, 38, said she and her mother drove Monday morning from Pittsburgh to Jackman. Klug said she chose Jackman because of the forecast for clear skies.

Scott McDonald of Fort Worth, Texas, talks about photographing the total solar eclipse while setting up his camera Monday morning near the Jackman Town Office. McDonald says he had intended to watch the eclipse in Texas, but poor weather in the forecast prompted him to change his plans and come to Jackman. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Dozens of amateur astronomers, including Klug, set up cameras and telescopes in Jackman.

“I’m good at reading the weather map,” said Dan Sutton, 57, who was parked at the Attean Overlook rest area, just south of Jackman. Sutton said traveled by himself from North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

At Jackman’s Pomerleau Memorial Park, Lauren Wolchok and Ky Krieger, both 38, came from Los Angeles with their 4- and 2-year-old daughters. Krieger’s parents live in southern New Hampshire, and the family decided to come to Maine after consulting the forecast for Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Annette Bullard, 58, and Brett Bullard, 57, said they came to Jackman from Sebring, Florida.

“We said: ‘We’ve never been to Maine. Let’s go to Maine,'” Annette Bullard said. “Jackman was the place to be.”



At the Attean Overlook rest area, which has a view of a vast area of the western Maine mountains, travelers began arriving Saturday to claim their spot, with many people camping in automobiles or recreational vehicles.

Ashley Palmer, right, and her boyfriend, Steve Guberman, of Roxbury, N.J., camp out on the side of the road Monday at the Attean Overlook rest area in Jackman before watching the total solar eclipse. On the back of their Toyota 4Runner is the message, “TOTALITY OR BUST!” They are wearing T-shirts reading, “Total Solar Eclipse Monday, April 8, 2024.” Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Officials had to put up signs at the overlook because too many people had parked on the side of the road.

Omer Sharon, 34, said he was among the first to arrive at the overlook, at about 5 p.m. Saturday with his camper trailer.

Sharon said he drove up from Danbury, Connecticut, with his wife and 18-month-old daughter. The family was originally hoping to head to a more remote area, but found many logging roads had not been plowed or were not in good condition, which public safety officials had warned as a potential hazard.

“In our imagination, we wanted to be alone in nature,” Sharon said. “But it’s a great view here.”


John Theberge, 65, had his minivan parked across from Sharon’s family. The Lewiston native said he has been coming to the area for years to visit a family’s camp and never seen so many people in the area.

“My mind is blown,” he said.

Taylor Smith, left front, and Max Wetter, right front, are joined by Jonathan Chinen, back left, and Tara Bassi, back right, as they prepare Monday afternoon to watch the total solar eclipse in Jackman. The friends drove up from Boston. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Theberge said he arrived at about 3 p.m. Sunday. At that point, the rest area was almost full. People who were camping there were working together to shovel out parking spots and viewing areas, he said.

Early Monday, the crowd was spilling over onto the highway, with dozens of vehicles parked along the shoulder, extending hundreds of feet both north and south.

Some, like Alex Torres, said they did not plan for the overlook to be their destination, but decided to stop there after driving past and seeing the view.

Torres, 24, of Long Island, New York, was traveling with his parents and two friends he met while studying at Cornell University. Coming to northern Maine was a last-minute plan, he said.


“We were very hesitant because of taking off work,” Torres said. “But we just said, ‘Screw work.'”

Torres, his family and friends — one of whom is from the Hawaiian island of Oahu — stayed in Portland overnight and left at about 4 a.m. to beat the traffic. Sitting in camp chairs on the side of the highway as the sun began to rise of a ridge to the east, they all agreed the trip was worth it.

The next solar eclipse visible in Maine, according to NASA, is expected in 2079.


At the very southern edge of the path of totality in Solon, about 100 campers and amateur astronomers were gathered atop Robbins Hill in anticipation of the eclipse.

Many had set up picnic tables, folding chairs and grills as they waited for totality. Some said Monday’s eclipse would be the second or third they had seen. Others, like Dave Lindh of York, said it was his first — and likely only — chance to see an eclipse.


“This is one thing in life I will never see again,” Lindh, 53, a retired firefighter, said. “It’s about being fortunate enough to live right here, and to be able to take today off work to come be a part of history.”

Dave Lindh, 53, of York sets up a telescope Monday in Solon as he prepares for the total solar eclipse. Dylan Tusinski/Morning Sentinel

Lindh was set up at Robbins Hill with a telescope and a number of solar lenses he bought less than a month ago. Lindh said he has recently learned everything he knows about astronomy to prepare for Monday’s total solar eclipse.

“My new thing is to try something new all the time, so I’m still literally figuring out how to work this telescope right now,” Lindh said, laughing. “I’m trying to do things outside my comfort zone. Live life to the fullest. This eclipse is the perfect chance to do both.”

Totality was greeted with hoots and hollers in Solon. Hundreds of eclipse watchers craned their necks and watched as the sunlight waned and a ring of dusk fell over the horizon.

Gloria Gilley was one of the most enthusiastic in the crowd. This year was the second time the 83-year-old South China resident had traveled to see an eclipse, but Monday was the first time she would actually see one.

“I went to South Carolina a few years back, when they had totality, and, of course, it was cloudy and overcast the whole time,” she said. “Now it’s in my backyard, with clear skies. Who can complain?”

Staff writer Dylan Tusinski contributed to this report.

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