Weekend Window to Monhegan Island

Monhegan Island lets visitors get lost in the stillness of former fishing camp.

ByABC News via logo
September 26, 2009, 10:17 AM

Sept. 27, 2009— -- Little more than a square mile of rock in the North Atlantic, Monhegan Island is an isolated treasure for those looking for a slower pace of life. Located just 12 miles off the coast of southern Maine, the island is only accessible by ferry and has no cars or paved roads.

Stepping onto Monhegan is like stepping into the past, just the way people lived 100 years ago, "before they had all the technology, cars and traffic and shopping malls. Life was simpler; that's the way it is here. I always say it's like 'Little House on the Prairie,'" said Lisa Brackett, a sternman of a lobster boat.

The island was settled by Englishman John Smith in 1614 and got its start as a British fishing camp prior to settlement of the Plymouth Colony. A trading post was built to conduct business with Native Americans, particularly in the lucrative fur trade.

Described as the "Crown Jewel of Muscongus Bay," Monhegan attracts tourists for its beautiful ocean vistas and abundance of migrating birds.

Even during the summer, fighting crowds won't be a problem -- the population rarely exceeds 75 people at any time during the year.

Monhegan, derived from the Algonquian word meaning "out to sea," is often described as quaint and unspoiled; only recently has the island installed its own electricity source.

For the inhabitants, the island is more than a home.

"There are a lot of people on Monhegan that have to be here. It's where their soul is," said Monhegan resident Carson Schnell. "I've told people as far as Beijing that if I drop dead right there my spirit would instantly come to Monhegan and wait for further instructions."