your day to suit your capabilities and the time available. Keep in mind that the
Island is hilly, many trails are rough, and the time required to cover a distance
is much greater than that for level ground.
The Lighthouse was built in 1824.
Though it still shines, it has not been manned since 1959 and is now controlled
by computer. You cant go up inside the light, but from the site one has
a superb view of the Village, harbor, Manana Island, and the mainland, including
the Camden Hills. You might see a freighter or tanker waiting at the Manana Buoy
to take on a coastal pilot, and if the time is right the ferry from Portland to
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, may be seen on the southern horizon.
Monhegan Historical & Cultural Museum is housed in the former keepers
house on the Lighthouse grounds, recently added to the Registry of American Historic
Sites. The Museum is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in July and August,
and from 12:30 to 2:30 in June and September. The first floor is devoted to the
Islands long and colorful history. The second floor has bird and wildflower
pictures to help you identify that specimen you just saw. Across the way is the
"new" assistant lightkeepers house, with an annually-changing
tribute to one of Monhegans many past artists.A small donation is encouraged.
The artists colony on Monhegan is still alive and well, as
it has been for over a hundred years. Some artists have viewing hours in their
studios, times and locations of which are listed in a flier available at bulletin
boards around the Village, and galleries around the Island show works of local
artists. More than a traditional souvenir, art from Monhegan is a constant reminder
of this special place.
Clustered around Fish Beach are the fish houses
which serve as workshops for many of those who fish and lobster. In summer lobstering
gear is piled up about them because Monhegan has a closed season on lobstering
running roughly from June to the following December.
Swim Beach is
the only safe place to swim on the Island. The water is cold; the beach is very
small and tides run hard. Always be sure that someone on the beach knows you are
Manana Island helps form Monhegan Harbor. Here may
be found the rock purported to contain Norse or Phoenician inscriptions. The fog
signal station of the Coast Guard was active here for many years. Transportation
by skiff across the harbor can usually be arranged with an Island child at Swim
Meadow, in the heart of the Village, is the source of the public water supply.
Years ago it was dammed and used for ice-boating and skating. Look on the bulletin
board on the rope shed by the meadow for announcements of current events.
Tercentenary Tablet, on a rock in the yard of the one-room schoolhouse, commemorates
John Smiths voyage to Monhegan in 1614.
Ice was harvested at the Ice
Pond for about 100 years. The last harvest was in February, 1974; the old
equipment is displayed in a shed behind the Museum at the Lighthouse. The pond
is an excellent spot for bird watching and a favorite skating area in winter.
Please be a responsible visitor and respect the rights
of the island's citizens and land.
* Water resources are limited; conserve
as much as you can.
* Take your garbage ashore with you, but please do NOT
take Island flowers.
* Don't trespass on private property; Monhegan is NOT
a theme park!
woods are chiefly spruce and fir balsam. In Cathedral Woods, tall slender trees
interlace their branches in gothic arches, as in a cathedral. Quiet aisles are
carpeted with deep-piled needles, adorned with ferns, wildflowers, tiny new trees,
Unusual and rare flowers and plants grow on the Island, but
because it is so far out to sea there is a limited chance for reseeding by wind
or birds. Some species are in danger of dying out. Many visitors and there
may be 200 in a day during the summer play botanist for the day
and frantically gather specimens, but the living plants and their flowers are
necessary to produce the seeds for next years beauty. Stop and look, photograph
or paint, but please do not pick or dig up any living materials. The long-standing
custom of presenting departing visitors with bouquets of flowers is charming if
the flowers are gathered by Islanders from their own yards, but distressing to
see if theyre from the wildlands or roadsides.
Cove and its meadow are at the southern tip of the Island. This area is excellent
for bird watching, particularly shore birds, and has spectacular surf during a
southerly storm. Take a picnic lunch to eat on the many flat rocks, and if you're
a photographer, try to get a new angle on the old shipwreck there.
try to swim or wade at Lobster Cove or any area on the back side of the Island.
Undertows there are unpredictable and dangerous, and high surf can sweep you away
if you're too close to the sea. No one has been saved who has gone overboard from
Green Point to Lobster Cove.
The Headlands, on the back side of the
Island, thrust their bulk majestically out of the sea, and are among the highest
ocean cliffs on the Maine coastline. No able walker should miss visiting at least
one of them from which, on a clear day, one can see Isle au Haut, Matinicus, Criehaven,
and Matinicus Rock. Nova Scotia lies due east, then the broad Atlantic and eventually
northern Spain and southern France.
Find your way to the headlands using
the Associates' map, not the design on a flier! White Head and Burnt Head
both are within easy hiking distance for a day visitor, and the vistas from them
Harbor seals may be seen best at half-tide on the
many rocky outcroppings near the Island: take a round-the-island trip to get a
good look at them, or watch for them on your return voyage.
Cove, on the back side of the Island, is a rocky shore at sea level, a fascinating
place to visit without climbing the headlands. But be careful: Wear sensible
shoes, don't climb alone, and beware of wet rocks at all times. An almost
invisible moss grows on rocks wet by the surf and stains them black. People venturing
onto such rocks have slipped, fallen into the sea, and been lost. During and after
a storm, or even when there has been a storm far out to sea, 'combers' (huge waves)
come without warning and sweep away anything in their path. Always keep a bulwark
between you and the surf!
to the Introduction
This is part of the Visitor's
Guide to Monhegan. For copies of the booklet contact one
of the merchants who sponsor it.
Clare Durst 2004