In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Blue Hill, Maine

“the charm of its situation, its sparkling bay..."

Long Island: The Forgotten Community

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By Rick Sawyer

In the early days of the settlement of Maine many of the communities were located along the coast and on the islands. The reason for this was obvious-- there were no roads. It was easier to travel by boat and it made sense to live near the water and so many of the early pioneers who needed to get supplies and get around settled along the coast and on the islands.

In Blue Hill Bay there still sits an island called Long Island that was once a thriving community but now is void of anyone. A few old stone foundations, a cemetery, and other remnants are all that remain—aside from the newer built camps which remain largely empty most of the year, it is a quiet place.

Long Island in 1881Jonathan Fisher Memorial, Inc.

At one time Long Island like many other islands was filled with people, and like many other islands, had its own traditions and culture which you could say were more oriented toward the seafaring life.

These early settlers in Downeast Maine were proficient navigators; they had to be, especially since this section of the Maine coast is very rocky, and more dangerous than down in Massachusetts or even in southern Maine. By skill and good fortune they learned to stay buoyant through wind and tide and taught the following generations how to maneuver safely along the coast.

The island communities were a close-knit group, a sea-going people who fraternized with each other largely because of the isolation of island living and being in the same boat so to speak. Every Saturday night, weather permitting, they would meet on a different island for a dance. You can imagine taking a boat to an island for a dance would be a lot more involved than taking a car like we would today. It probably meant spending the night, preparing for the elements, and more. There must have been a hearty welcome and an even heartier amount of merry-making. These festive events are probably one of the reasons so many islanders married other islanders and just as they gave each other a helping hand when exposed to danger they also found happiness and confidence in each other.