North Haven, Maine

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North Haven is a town in Knox County, Maine, United States, in Penobscot Bay. The town is both a year-round island community and a prominent summer colony. The population was 381 at the 2000 census. North Haven is accessed by three-times daily ferry service from Rockland, Maine, or by air taxi from the Rockland airport. Fox Islands Thoroughfare is the site of Goose Rocks Light.



As early as 3300 BC, the island was visited by the Red Paint People. Later it became part of the territory of the Penobscot Abenaki Indians, who hunted and fished in canoes along the coast. Captain Martin Pring, the explorer from Bristol, England, discovered North Haven and Vinalhaven in 1603. He called them the Fox Islands, a name which survives on the Fox Islands Thoroughfare, a mile-wide strait separating the towns which provides passage for boats crossing Penobscot Bay.

Settled in the 1760s, North Haven was originally the North Island of Vinalhaven, from which it was set off and incorporated on June 30, 1846 as Fox Isle. It was changed to North Haven on July 13, 1847. An act was passed by the state legislature in 1850 which gave the majority of island inhabitants "the right to have such roads as they deemed fit." The majority thereupon decided to have no roads at all, or else roads obstructed with gates or bars at the discretion of landowners. Not surprisingly, the minority of inhabitants petitioned to amend the act.

Fishing and farming became chief occupations. The surface of the town is even, and farmers produced hay as a staple crop. Boatbuilding became an important industry, and even now the community has two boatyards. But many inhabitants were fishermen who caught lobsters, scallops and oysters. In the 1880s, the island was discovered by "rusticators," seasonal residents first from Boston, then followed a decade or two later by others from New York and Philadelphia. North Haven is best known today for its sizable summer colony of prominent Northeasterners, drawn to the island for over a century to savor its simple way of life.

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