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The 1900s

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The 1900s were a century of great change, as Great Cranberry Island adopted—for better or worse—many innovations from the mainland.  At the beginning of the century the island was alive with year-round residents who made a living from the sea or from associated land-based services such as farmers, merchants, and businessmen.  Only one or two families were "Rusticators" with summer homes.

The end of the 1900s—June 2000 to be exact—saw the effective closing of the Longfellow School, as the last two students left to pursue studies on the mainland, with no immediate prospects of further children to attend.  Thus two schoolrooms were offered to the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society as "home" for a Historical Museum.  (The museum remained in the Longfellow School from 2000 to 2007.  It was moved to Cranberry House, our permanent home, in 2008.)

In between, what remarkable and diverse events occurred!

In September of 1915, both Great and Little Cranberry Islands were unsettled by a series of seemingly inexplicable fires.  On September 4th fire struck one house each on both islands and another house in Somesville.  On the 9th another house burnt on Islesford, and on the 11th an Islesford icehouse and barn were fired.  Finally, on the 16th fire destroyed a house in Seal Harbor.  In January 1916 several fires again broke out but were detected before much damage occurred.  By March of that year a pyromaniac young man from Islesford was proven the culprit, and "placed under proper restraint."

1919 was the year a beached whale made life a misery for people on the south end of the island, and eventually it had to be blown up to alleviate the smell.

Lightning hit the original round Congregational Church steeple in the '20s, destroying it completely.  It was rebuilt square shaped.

January 13, 1923 saw the wreck of the General George C. Hogg, a Canadian coal-carrying vessel.  Naturally the island salvors were quick to mine the cargo after it spilled from the splitting hull of the wreck, and a few men were sent to jail for helping to accelerate the breakup!

February 1923 was exceptionally cold and several venturesome islanders walked across to Southwest Harbor—some dragging long wooden poles in case the ice gave way.

1928 saw the swamp drainage project; also the island was electrified for the first time.

In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed by on his way to Campobello Island, and was hailed by his old Harvard buddy Lloyd Hayes, who lived on Great Cranberry Island at the time.  Mr. Hayes was an enthusiastic photographer and took some of the first home movies of Great Cranberry Island; a compilation of these on VHS cassette is available from the Great Cranberry Library.

In the winter of 1934 the Pool froze over so thick it could support a car.

In 1943 Cranberry Islander John Stanley, Lieutenant Commander of a Coast Guard Ammo loading group in New York Harbor, successfully fought an extremely dangerous ammo ship fire, and was awarded a medal for his efforts.