North Haven Harbor lies on an island in the middle of Penobscot Bay in Maine's Knox County. North Haven Harbor is about 26 nautical miles (36 kilometers or 22 miles by air) south-southeast of Belfast Harbor and almost 60 nautical miles (71 kilometers or 42 miles) south of Bangor Harbor. North Haven Harbor is a popular summer community, but the community's permanent population was just 355 people in 2010.
The Red Paint People visited the island that would be home to North Haven Harbor as long ago as 3300 BC. By the time Europeans arrived in the area, it was home to the Penobscot Nation. These indigenous people were hunters and fishers who enjoyed an abundance of natural resources. Their first contacts with Europeans came in the form of fur traders with whom they traded furs for guns, metal axes, and cookware.
When European settlers began to arrive, they rapidly depleted North Haven Harbor's resources, creating hardships for the Penobscots. They also brought disease and alcohol to the people, taking advantage of their resulting weakness to take over the Penobscot lands.
In 1603, English explorer Captain Martin Pring discovered the future North Haven Harbor location on what he named the Fox Islands. By the 1670s, French and English settlers lived throughout the Penobscot lands, including North Haven Harbor.
The tribe fought with the French during the French and Indian War in the 18th Century, and the British put a bounty on their scalps. While the Penobscot fought for the infant United States during the American Revolution, they faced an insurmountable task.
Negotiating treaties in an effort to keep at least some of their land, the Penobscot were not able to enforce them. By the early 19th Century, most of their lands belonged to the Europeans. The Penobscots that remained were wards of the State of Maine, and they lived on reservations while the state abused its position as caretaker.
North Haven Harbor was settled in the 1760s as part of the Island of Vinalhaven. In 1846, North Haven Harbor separated from Vinalhaven and was incorporated under the name Fox Isle, although the name was changed to North Haven the following year.
The main occupations in early North Haven Harbor were farming and fishing. Boat-building became important to the local North Haven Harbor economy. Many of the island's inhabitants were fishermen who brought in scallops, oysters, and lobsters.
In the 1880s, Boston "rusticators" (seasonal residents) discovered North Haven Harbor. For the next ten to 20 years, others arrived from Philadelphia and New York. North Haven Harbor is still known for its large summer population that includes many prominent people from the Northeast.
Unlike neighboring Vinalhaven, North Haven Harbor relies more on its summer population than on the lobster industry. The people who come to North Haven Harbor for the summer season have vacation homes on the island. Tourists will not find many amenities in North Haven Harbor. There are only two gift shops, one inn, and one grocery store.