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Along the Penobscot: Verona Island

Verona Island might be best known as the location of one end of the spectacular, record-breaking, Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Home to a town by the same name, this island is, of course, so much more than that.

According to an article found on the Verona Island Historical Society's website, the island was originally called “Nalagwem-manahan” by the Native Americans, and later named “Ahlurmehsic” meaning “spawning island.” In fact, one of the things the island is known for is just how many different names it has been called over the years.

Nearly all of Knox and Waldo counties were owned by two Englishmen, one by the name of Thomas Leverett. And so, the island was called Lett, or Isle of Lett. As ownership transitioned over time, other names included Orphan's Isle and Wetmore Isle. The name of Verona was adopted on Feb. 11, 1861. While Verona is also the name of a notable Italian city, there is little evidence of exactly why the name was chosen for this island in Penobscot.

Far from the sunny piazzas of Italy, the above photo could easily be mistaken for the North Pole. In fact, it was shot on a recent trip across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. As it turns out, this isn't Verona Island's only connection to the winter wonderland. Notable Mainer Admiral Robert E. Peary had his ship, the S.S. Roosevelt, built on Verona Island between 1904 and 1905. The Roosevelt, designed specially to cut through ice floes, made the journey to the Arctic twice, once in 1905-1906 and a second time in 1908-1909, when Admiral Peary is said to have been one of the first explorers to reach the North Pole.

With the snow coming early this year, and the holidays upon us, it seems fitting to be celebrating this remarkable community bound by history to the northernmost, second-coldest point on the globe (and suspected home of one St. Nick).

Stay tuned for future PRCC blog posts about our other communities and best wishes for a safe and happy New Year!


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