LEWISTON — Ninety students from Lewiston High School will visit historic Malaga Island in the New Meadows River on Tuesday, May 28. Rain date will be May 30. 

This first-ever educational event of its kind will bring students face to face with the history of the island’s mixed-race community, summarily evicted from their homes 100 years ago. This unique trip, which has taken six months to organize, is the result of an unprecedented collaborative effort between Maine Maritime Museum, Lewiston High School, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Fish’n’Trips Charters. Funding is provided by the Lewiston Education Fund.

For nearly 100 years, the story of the tiny community of Malaga Island was forgotten, as was the shameful way that the state government decided that such a community was unacceptable and had to go. In recent years, attention has again been focused on that history. Now, for the first time, a group of Maine high school students will be able to actually walk in the footsteps of the islanders.

Malaga Island is not far off shore, but getting there is no easy task. The students will board Leeward, Fish’n’Trip’s 32-foot USCG-certified passenger boat, for the short trip across the New Meadows River. Since there is no dock or boat landing on the island, the students will transfer to an inflatable boat and go ashore on the island’s north beach. Amanda Devine of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, owners of Malaga Island, will interpret the island, point out the archaeological remains and explain Malaga’s history.

Also that day, students will visit Maine Maritime Museum in Bath for more of the historic and cultural background of the story. They will visit the museum’s refurbished shipbuilder’s home, contemporary with the Malaga Island story, and take part in hands-on programs that look at fishing and boatbuilding of the time. The logistics will be no simple matter, but the students will gain a deeper appreciation for the story of Malaga Island and the social context in which it happened.


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