Salt Institute for Documentary Studies

Located in Portland, Maine, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers a 15-week immersion program for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in documentary writing, photography, or radio.
This blog is an update of current Salt students insights and musings.


The Mail Boat

Four Salt Students Board the Mail Boat
Exhibit A: Evidence of Human Struggle
“Early settlers,” the mail boat Captain explained, “Thought there was an island in Casco Bay for every day of the year.”

In our narrated tour, the Captain refers to Long Island as a town, seceded from Portland in 1993. Islanders are paying high property taxes that reflect real estate values paid by out of state residents – making it difficult for long-time residents to keep their homes. Long Island didn’t feel Portland was offering proportionate resources in return for the big tax payout, so they launched a revolution. For more information visit their historical society, who preserved every inch of national media coverage.

A couple people got off at each island, but most had no mail. Little Diamond Island got a package from Ethan Allen. Diamond Cove got a box of fish. Chebeague Island got hefty shipments of Pepsi products, and I wonder what establishment placed the order. I encountered no watering hole – just a craft gift shop, a few varieties of apple trees, a machine graveyard for the old and rusty in someone’s yard.

Might as well ride the mail boat and see the bay while it’s still warm enough to breathe. Barely a sense of each unique island’s character from the mail boat; just a glimpse of lobster trap buoyed waters, playful seals, clues that life still exists beyond the urban.

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