St. Croix Historical Society to Present “Disappearing St. Croix Island”

By Lura Jackson


St. Croix Island is a place of great international historical significance; in 1604 it was the site of one of the earliest European settlements to last through a single winter. Now, scientists from across the United States and Canada are monitoring the island with mounting concern due to the rapidity of erosion taking place there. Meg Scheid, Site Manager of the Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, will be giving a presentation about the challenges facing the island at the October meeting of the St. Croix Historical Society.   

The island’s history is a troubled one. The winter that the French settlers chose was during the lingering effects of the Little Ice Age, and it was uncommonly cold. Dozens of settlers died in the ensuing conditions, having run out of fresh provisions and being unable to cross the ice floe-laden river to retrieve more. While the Passamaquoddy were able to send fresh venison over in the early spring to save some lives, many settlers were buried on the island.

In the 1800s, the island gained the name of “Bone Island” by locals following the exposure of skeletons and human remains as a result of erosion caused by storm surges and high tides. In 1984, the island was designated as a historic site by the United States Congress, and efforts to preserve it began in earnest.

Now, the National Park Service is faced with the decision of how their goal of preservation should be approached. “How does the National Park Service manage an eroding critical resource in light of rising sea levels, more frequent storms, and more severe storms and storm surges?” posed Scheid, providing an example of what she will be discussing during the presentation. She will also share the results of geophysical surveys performed on the island in 2017.


The presentation will take place on Monday, October 1st, at the Holmestead, 527 Main Street in Calais, at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served afterward. There is no cost to attend and all are welcome.