The Dark Secrets Of Malaga Island, Maine
I am a born and raised Mainer and I have to admit that I have never heard of Malaga Island and the story behind it. The 40-acre island located at the mouth of the New Meadows River is now owned by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, but this once small fishing community has a dark secret.
Malaga Island was inhabited in the mid-19th century. At the height of Malaga’s population, 42 individuals lived there, and it was set up like any other fishing village along coastal Maine.
Malaga was different. It was a community of mixed races, it drew the attention of Mainers with a bigoted view.
Many of the residents lived as couples that were not legally married, they lived in as families. This struck moral indignation in the people of Maine.
The residents of Maine accused the islanders of incest, feeble mindedness, and passing on inferior genetics.
In the summer of 1911, Maine's governor Fredrick Plaisted visited Malaga Island and promised they could not be evicted. Three weeks later the state told the residents that they had to leave and remove their homes, or be forcibly removed and their homes would be burned.
Many of the residents would float their tar shacks up and down the river but no towns would expect them. Many others ended up being institutionalized.
In 2010, the state of Maine passed a resolution expressing regret for the injustices visited upon the residents of Malaga. Governor Baldacci visited the island to spread the message of acknowledgement and atonement.