A small island
, off the coast
in Penobscot bay
. It is, in relative location, fairly close to Acadia National Park
. Deer Isle is actually the largest by severalfold of an archipeligo
of smaller islands, including Isle au Haut
and Marshall Island
There are two official towns on Deer Isle, the actual town "Deer Isle" in the northern half of the island, and Stonington in the southern half. Stonington is the larger of the two, with about 1500 year-round residents, and 500 or so summer residents. Deer Isle has about 900 residents.
The majority of islanders make their living as their fathers and grandfathers did: lobstering. The waters around Stonington harbor are speckled with bright fluorescent buoys marking the trap drops of the various lobster fishermen. Nearly all the boats are privately owned, and nearly all sell their catch at the co-op in downtown Stonington. The result is that the Stonington Lobster Co-op has essentially the lowest prices on fresh Maine lobster in the entire country: about $4.50 a pound.
The picturesque granite and pine tree scenery of Deer Isle has inspired artists for generations. Several art galleries can be found in both towns featuring the work of numerous contemporary artists who have painted their impressions of the sunset or the natrual beauty of the area.
Thanks a suspension bridge built in the 1930s, Deer Isle is accessible via public roads; route 15 from Blue Hill leads north/south across the bridge and onto the island. Deer Isle also serves as the ferry/mail boat terminal for Isle au Haut, which is completely isolated from the mainland. Despite it's relative isolation, public utility service including electrcitiy, phone service, and cable television, is available. There are numerous ISPs with a point of presence on Deer Isle, but sorry, no broadband.
Deer Isle was first settled, mostly by those who had already immigrated to areas around New England, in the 1820s. Several large granite quarries were opened, the largest of which was Crotch Island, just a 5 or so minute boat ride from the southern harbor on the main island. Quarry workers took up residence near the protected harbor on the southern end of the island. The settlement was named Stonington, after the stone workers who made their homes there. Around the turn of the century the quarries were obsoleted by bigger, more accessible operations, and Stonington witnessed a harsh recession. Around the turn of the (last) century, the lobster industry began to become profitable, and numerous interprid lobstermen moved to Stonington. The town was officially encorporated in 1897. In the 1960s, the island witnesses a resurgance of painters who came to be inspired by the picturesque, rugged Maine coast. Today, Stonginton remains one of the largest and most active fishing communities in downeast Maine, as well as a haven for artists and escapists alike.
Sources: My own experience going to Deer Isle every summer of my life, and a pamphlet on the island's history published by the Island Heritage Trust of Deer Isle, who publishes lots of cool maps and goodies relating to the island. For more info, write the Island Heritage Trust, P.O. Box 369, Stonington, ME 04681