For something a little different today, I found a cruise that goes out to Eagle Island, a state park that was the summer home of Admiral Robert Peary (the first American to reach the North Pole), and his family.
The island is on the ocean side of Casco Bay (sadly, I was not able to find any good links to maps that demonstrate this), which is much farther out then I’ve gone in my previous island excursions. It was easily ten degrees cooler out there than on the mainland, which was absolutely lovely. I actually had a couple of moments on the boat ride back where I nearly pulled out my sweatshirt, something I haven’t even thought about doing in over a month.
It was a really neat trip. It’s a bit of a haul to get out there (a little over an hour in the tour boat, and we went with a pretty direct route), which means the island isn’t over run with people. There are are plenty of nice views of the island as you travel, and the captain of the boat had a surprising amount of trivia to share about the places we passed.
The island itself has one full time ranger, and a few other volunteers, who were all extremely welcoming. The house, which is built to look like a ship (I have a side view to demonstrate below), has been turned into a museum, and has many original furnishing from when the family lived there.
I have to share my favorite story from the audio tour guide: Peary kept his sled dogs down here when he wasn’t in the Arctic, but didn’t want them to be domesticated, so they were housed on nearby Flag Island, which he also owned. Apparently, on clear nights with a full moon, they would howl in unison, which could be heard quite clearly by the family on Eagle Island. So on the front porch, there’s a huge megaphone, painted with Eskimo motifs. Apparently, when the dogs got up to full voice, Peary would storm down to the front porch in his nightshirt and swear at the dogs in Eskimo through the megaphone until they shut up. That was a great image to imagine while standing on that front porch.
The pictures below are in chronological order, from leaving Portland, arriving on Eagle Island, and traveling back to Portland.
Van Propelled Lobster Boat, Long Island
(Apparently, this was the big winner at the last lobster boat races.)
View from Eagle Island, over the Navigational Monument to the Atlantic.
(There’s a full Polar bear pelt inside. Those are some big freaking animals.)
The tour boat (The Islander) moored at Eagle Island.
Peary’s House. You can see the front of the “ship” at left.
The “romantic ruin”, the twin of the library, once a storage place for Peary’s Arctic memorabilia, and later an angora rabbit hutch.
View from the front porch. One of the islands in the distance is where Peary’s dogs lived.
A lobster boat and the summer sky, from the way back.
Harbor seals on Halfway Rock.
The Portland Skyline.