My hubby and I took a much needed break and went on a mini-vacation to Portland, Maine this past weekend. On Saturday we took an excursion from Portland Harbor. The occasion: a fund-raising benefit Lobster Fest . . . in Maine we say “Lobsta”!

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We boarded The Chippewa, a 1923 ferry boat, and cruised through the Casco Bay to our destination of House Island. The ferry’s Captain Hal Cushing is of the original family who owns the island and he provided us with it’s fascinating history:

The 30 acre island is known as “the island with the old house on it” and is only accessible by private boat. It is said to be the location of the first European built house in the Casco Bay area. In 1808 Fort Scammel was built upon the island, complete with cannon batteries, as a defense for the northeastern harbor entrances. In 1862 the fort was rebuilt to be used in the Civil War, though it was never used. From 1907 – 1937 it was used as an immigration quarantine station.

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As we cruised around the island someone spotted a deer. Yes, the island is the habitat to a herd of deer as well as other wildlife and birds. The deer actually swam their way in the ocean water to get to the island.

This was our second visit to the island so we did not take Captain Hal’s official tour choosing instead to just wander around Fort Scammel on our own with a trusty complimentary flashlight. The fortress is a maze of tunnels, stairs, and alcoves. Fortunately the guide left a lantern inside providing proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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A view of Portland Head Lighthouse can be seen in the far distance can be seen through a window inside the fort. (above)

When we were done exploring the island we headed back with our appetites for the Lobster Fest – which I will continue telling you about in Part 2.

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House Island History

House Island Wikipedia Article