History & Culture

Located in the ancestral homelands of the Wabanaki, Saint Croix Island International Historic Site commemorates the 1604 site of the first French attempt to colonize the territory they called l'Acadie.It is one of the earliest European settlements in North America. Members of a French expedition led by Pierre Dugua, intending to colonize North America, settled the island in 1604.

Seventy-nine members of the expedition, including Samuel Champlain, passed the severe winter of 1604-1605 on the island. Thirty-five settlers died, apparently of scurvy, and were buried in a small cemetery on Saint Croix Island. In the spring of 1605 the Passamaquoddy, befriended by the French, returned from their winter sojourn to the shores of Saint Croix Island. They traded game for bread and the health of the remaining settlers improved. Pierre Dugua made the decision to move the colony and founded the settlement of Port Royal, in today's Nova Scotia. The valuable insights gained from both the Saint Croix settlement formed the foundations of 'successful' settlements by the French and solidified the presence of French people in North America.

In 1858, a US Coast Guard Light Station was established on Saint Croix Island and locals made use of the mainland 'red beach' area for industrial use including shipbuilding. There are no remants of either of these uses left in the park.

Congress authorized the establishment of Saint Croix Island National Monument in 1949, which became effective on June 30, 1968, and redesignated it as an international historic site on September 25, 1984.

To learn more, view a timeline of Saint Croix Island's past 400 years and explore the articles, people, and places below.

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    Last updated: August 21, 2023

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    Mailing Address:

    84 Saint Croix Drive
    Calais, ME 04619


    207 454-3871

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