Surrounded

Surrounded: Stories from New Hampshire’s Islands is a series that explores the history, culture and landscapes of the Granite State’s islands and the people who live or visit there, from the Seacoast to the Lakes Region to the Connecticut River.

Want to share your photos or stories about life on and around an island in New Hampshire? Send an email to islands@nhpr.org.

Explore the series story map:

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

New Hampshire is the Granite State...we like our landscapes and our people to be tough. But New Hampshire is also known for its beauty, our forests and mountains. Our trails, fields, and cold-water coastline.

What this state isn’t known for are its islands. But today, we’re changing that.

With the end of summer rapidly approaching we're dedicating this episode of The Exchange entirely to the islands of New Hampshire. We’ve got stories from the Seacoast and the Lakes Region to the North Country. Stories of camps, boats, warring lobstermen, and inescapable beauty.

This show originally aired in September, 2017. 

Listen to the episode:


Sean Hurley

Every Sunday morning throughout the summer, a bell rings out three times from an island in the middle of Squam Lake.

It's a signal that boaters, kayakers,  and even swimmers, should begin to make their way to the island - because church is about to start. 

With a granite boulder serving as an altar and music from a hand cranked organ, Chocurua Island has hosted religious services of all kinds for more than a hundred years.  In this final installment of our summer series Surrounded, Sean Hurley visits the island, with one of its most devoted caretakers.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Off the coast of New Hampshire are the iconic Isles of Shoals.

Somewhere around the middle of those isles is a dotted line -- the state border between New Hampshire and Maine.

As part of our series Surrounded in which we look at life in and around New Hampshire's islands, Jason Moon found out that line has been the cause of some intense disagreement over the years.

Library of Congress

Islands can be calm, quiet, isolated places where you can remove yourself from the stress of mainland life. Or, they can serve a more transactional purpose: a place to put people you don’t want to have around. Think Alcatraz, or Elba, where Napoleon was exiled.

Well, off the coast of Portsmouth, there are islands that were also used to remove and isolate certain individuals. Individuals who sometimes figured out novel ways to entertain themselves. 

Todd Bookman/NHPR

If you find yourself in downtown Berlin, New Hampshire, take a glance at the Androscoggin River. There, in the middle of the water, you’ll notice a long, straight line of small rocky islands poking through the surface.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Time moves differently—and is counted differently—on Three Mile Island.

The summer camp on Lake Winnipesaukee, which is owned and operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club, hasn’t changed much since its opening in 1900. And many of the campers, some of whom have been returning annually for more than half-a-century, are more likely to tell you when they first started coming to Three Mile, rather than admit their age.

Britta Greene/NHPR

The Vilas Bridge spans the Connecticut River with two delicate arches, but it’s seen nearly a century of wear. In some spots, where the concrete has cracked and fallen away, you can see the structure’s metal skeleton, rusting in plain air.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

For more than a century, the U.S. Postal Service has delivered mail to the islands of Lake Winnipesaukee. For the past 50 years, that job has fallen to the Sophie C., a 74-foot motor boat, docked off Weir’s Beach.