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Photos of the past: Criehaven

Robert Crie in 1900

First published in Landings, September 2023

About 48 miles off Penobscot Bay lies Ragged Island, approximately 300 acres in size. It is more commonly known as Criehaven, named for the family Crie. Back in 1849 Robert Crie of Matinicus bought land on the island and moved there with his 18-year-old wife Harriet. Crie was an industrious man. In time he bought the entire island and set about raising sheep, cutting lumber, and harvesting the resources of the sea. He hired fishermen to catch cod, haddock and mackerel which were then salted and packed on the island. In addition, he established and ran the general store. Because he controlled nearly every element of the island, Robert Crie was nicknamed “King Crie.” He and his wife had five children who married, had children of their own, and remained on the island.

Criehaven had a school and post office by 1896; a mailboat service began shortly afterward. King Crie died in 1901. By the early 1900s, fishermen and their families were able to buy land and make a living as independent fishermen and farmers. The island school continued until 1941. After its closing, the population dwindled away. Today a small number of lobstermen have “berths” on the island, which allow them to fish the island’s remarkably rich waters.

These photos of the island were taken by Ida Crie in the early 1900s. Ida Crie was born in 1856 in Rockland. She married Rufus Anson Crie, of Criehaven. Her husband and father-in-law owned the renowned H.H. Crie & Co. in Rockland, purveyors of hardware and nearly everything else. Ida Crie took up photography, capturing daily scenes throughout Maine and beyond. Her images show a place and time hard to imagine today.

All photographs are courtesy Rockland Historical Society, Ida Crie Collection. Many thanks to Ann Morris for her assistance.

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