Fort St. Croix
Fort St. Croix (1604-1605) - A fortified French colonial settlement established in 1604 near present-day Calais, Washington County, Maine. Named Fort St. Croix after the island where it was located. Said to be the first French settlement in the U.S. Members included Samuel de Champlain. Settlement abandoned in 1605 and moved to Port Royal, Nova Scotia. Assigned Location ID ME00085.
A fortified French settlement established in 1604 by French Huguenot Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons on the island of St. Croix. Expedition members included mapmaker and explorer Samuel de Champlain and Champlain’s uncle, Francois Grave Dupont along with a mixed crew of Huguenots and Catholics. Dupont sailed back to France with the returning ships.
The expedition's ship arrived at the mouth of the St. Croix River in June 1604. The expedition chose to settle on St. Croix Island because it was centered near the mouth of the river and offered protection from Indians and the English. They determined that the soil was good and that they could trade with the Indians with relative safety. Unknown to the settlers was that winter conditions would isolate the island from the shore and cut off the freshwater supply as well as prevent off-island hunting. The lack of food and the limited freshwater resulted in starvation and scurvy during the first winter. Thirty-five of the party of 79 died and more than 20 were at the point of death when Dupont returned from France with two supply ships on 15 Jun 1605.
The surviving French settlers moved in the summer of 1605 to nearby Port Royal, Nova Scotia, upon the advice of the Champlain and Dupont. Under Champlain’s supervision, the men dismantled the buildings and transported them across the bay to Port Royal.
Abandoned in 1605.
There are no visible traces of the settlement remaining on the island. Public access to the 6.5-acre island is discouraged (private boat access only). Outdoor exhibits and interpretive trail on the mainland. The new visitor center is at Red Beach just across from the island. The park is jointly managed by Parks Canada and the National Park Service since 1984.