The Cranberry Islands
Five islands — Bear, Sutton, Great and Little Cranberry, and Baker — make up the Cranberry Island group just south of Mount Desert Island, at the entrance to Somes Sound. The largest of the islands, Great and Little Cranberry, are two of only fifteen remaining year-round island communities in Maine without a bridge. The other three islands are unoccupied during the winter months.
Great and Little Cranberry also make up the Town of the Cranberry Isles, incorporated in 1830, the only political entity in the state comprised of two different islands. The town’s population was listed in the 2000 census at 128, about two-thirds of whom live on Little Cranberry. (During the summer months the population in the islands increases 400% or 500%.)
Named for a 200-acre bog of wild low-bush cranberries on Great Cranberry Island, the islands were visited by Sir Francis Bernard, the last Royal Governor of Massachusetts, at the beginning of October 1762. The previous February, the General Court of Massachusetts had made him a grant of one-half of Mount Desert Island, and he was coming to inspect his property. Most people say Bernard gave the islands their name during his visit; others say that he came to see the cranberry bog because of the name.
The first permanent settlers in the islands came around the time of the Revolutionary War.
Fun Fact: The Secret Life of Lobsters (2004), an entertaining and educational book by Trevor Corson, is set largely in the Cranberry Islands. The book’s subtitle: “How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean.”