Maine: An Encyclopedia

Cranberry Isles

Location Map for Cranberry Isles

Location Map, Cranberry Isles

Year Population
1970 186
1980 198
1990 196
2000 128
2010 141
Cranberry Isles Population Chart 1830-2010

Population Trend 1830-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 44:07:42
W. Latitude 68:15:47
Maine House District 134
Maine Senate District 7
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 42.4
Area sq. mi. (land) 3.3
Population/sq.mi. (land) 44.1
County: Hancock

Total=land+water; Land=land only

[KRAN-behr-ee] is a town in Hancock County, incorporated on March 16, 1830 from a portion of the town of Mount Desert. In 1849 it annexed additional land from that town to complete its current area.

The 200 acre cranberry marsh on Great Cranberry Island influenced Governor Bernard in 1762 to name the town, which is composed of this and four additional islands: Islesford, Baker, Bear, and Sutton. Sutton was purchased by Ebenezer Sutton in 1755.

Dorothy Simpson put it most eloquently:

The name “Cranberry Isles” is poetry with a Yankee accent.  We think of the cranberry as a purely New England fruit, a paradox, like all New Englanders, with its bite and its warm rich bloom of ripeness. So the Cranberry Isles are New World cousins to all the isles of history and mythology: the Spice Islands, the Fortunate Islands, the isles of Greece, and Vachel Lindsay’s “wizard islands of august surprise.” (p. 199)

The town lies at the entrance to Somes Sound, the fjord that splits Mount Desert Island, just south of Northeast Harbor. Recently fewer than 200 year-round residents have inhabited the islands and in 2000 that number dropped to less than 130, but recovered slightly to 141 in 2010.

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

Congressional Medal of Honor winner:

Civil War


The map below1, in addition to illustrating the islands of this community, displays in pink the 250-foot buffers generally required around sensitive areas, such as lakes, ponds, streams, marshes, and essential wildlife habitat.  There are three regularly-scheduled passenger-only ferry services to the Cranberry Isles, plus three water taxis. See (accessed March 5, 2014)

Cranberry Isles Timber Harvesting Buffers 2013

Cranberry Isles Timber Harvesting Buffers 2013

Sailing West IconSailing East Icon<== Up West                                                            Downeast ==>

Form of Government: Town Meeting-Select Board.

Additional resources

Barrett, Louis G. Cranberry Isles Sketches. Islesford, Me. Islesford Historical Society. c1997.

Dwelley, Hugh L. Pioneer settlers of the Cranberry Islands: the Gilleys of Baker Island and Islesford, Maine. Islesford, Me. Islesford Historical Society. 1998.

Dwelley, Hugh L. A History of Little Cranberry Island, Maine. Islesford, Me. Islesford Historical Society. c2000.

Komusin, Bruce. The Asa D. Stanley House: built ca. 1857-1863. From reminiscences of Omer and Annette Mountain. Great Cranberry Island, Me.? Great Cranberry Historical Society. 1997.

Locke, Marie and Nancy Montgomery. Memories of a Maine island: Turn of the Century Tales & Photography. Orono, Maine. Maine Folklife Center, University of Maine. c1998.

1  Maine. Department of Agriculture and Conservation. Maine Forest Service. “Statewide Standards for Timber Harvesting in the Shoreland Area Map” for Cranberry Isles. (accessed March 5, 2014)

Simpson, Dorothy. The Maine Islands in Story and Legend.

Spurling, Theodore L. Ensign Ben Bunker, Mount Desert, and the Cranberry Isles. Islesford, Me. Islesford Historical Society c1991.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Baker Island Light Station, Baker Island, Acadia National Park Islesford

Bear Island Light Station, Bear Island, Acadia National Park, near Northeast Harbor but is within the town boundary of Cranberry Isles

Islesford Historical Museum and Blue Ducks Ships Store, Little Cranberry Island Islesford

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This entry was last modified: February 18, 2018 08:14 PM

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