Isle au Haut, Maine

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Isle au Haut is a town in Knox County, Maine, United States, on an island of the same name in Penobscot Bay. The population was 79 at the 2000 census. Home to portions of Acadia National Park, Isle au Haut is accessible by mailboat (no auto ferries) from Stonington.



Native Americans left behind shell mounds on the island following their oyster feasts. It was part of the territory of the Penobscot Abenaki Indians when, in 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain named it Isle au Haut, meaning High Island. English Captain John Smith, who charted the coast in 1614, noted that it was the highest island in Penobscot Bay. It was included in Deer Isle Plantation, incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court on February 2, 1789 as the town of Deer Isle.

In 1792, Henry Barter was granted land on the island, which by 1800 had a population of about 50 English and Scottish settlers. They subsisted by raising sheep, farming and fishing. In 1808, the island was the scene of a murder when smugglers shot and killed a federal customs officer. In the mid-19th century, the chief occupations were fishing and boatbuilding. On February 28, 1874, Isle au Haut was set off from Deer Isle and incorporated as a town.[1]

By the late 19th century, when the island's population reached about 275, a village had developed beside the Isle au Haut Thoroughfare separating Kimball Island. The 1880s brought an influx of "rusticators," seasonal inhabitants often from Boston and other big cities who built vacation cottages at a private club at Point Lookout.[2] In 1910, Isle au Haut had 178 year-round residents and 15 summer families. Some fishermen left when motors replaced sails to power boats, allowing them to operate more conveniently from the mainland. By 1935, the population had dropped to 75.

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