A Scene on Islesboro, Ryder’s Cove

Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company Collection

Originally called Sabbathday or Saturday Harbor, Ryder’s Cove lies on Isleboro’s Northwestern shore. “Summer Folk” from Bangor first started coming here in 1868.  Steamboats like GOLDEN ROD and ANNA BELLE made regular stops at Ryder Landing. Looking to relax and escape summer heat, these Rusticators initially stayed in a boarding house/ inn, named at various times Seaside House, Seaside Hotel, The Islesborough and Johnson-by-the-Sea. It grew to the 100-guest hotel on the right. Individuals also built their own “cottages” here, cottages much smaller than the palatial residences on the island’s southern half.

Many year-round residents made their living as help to wealthy part-time residents. These boys could be locals or visiting from away. Their timing as they crested the rise up from the hotel creates the human element that changes this photo from descriptive to nostalgic. It was most likely taken around 1920, near the end of the steamship era. The automobile (banned on Isleboro until 1933) would change tourist travel and hotels would not play the role they once did. After the Depression, the 2nd and 3rd floors were removed and the building converted to a dance hall; by 1950 the entire structure was gone.

Why A Scene on Islesboro?
Summer Folk, or “Rusticators”, played a big role in how the Maine coast developed. Their arrival began the gradual displacement of local families. With Maine’s traditional industries in decline, some families had no choice but to sell their land to summer people or developers. Others took jobs as cooks, gardeners, and servants for vacationers. By 1920, tourism had become the most important source of revenue for many coastal towns.  We celebrate the rich histories of both the Rusticator and the traditional industries of the Maine Coast.

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