Frye Island ...
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History of Frye’s Leap
Article Reprinted from the FINS on September 4, 1987
The largest island in Sebago Lake is Frye Island. It was once extensively farmed. One story has it that a wild woman lived there and stole food and milk from the farms. Although an extensive search of the island was made, it was unsuccessful except that she was not seen or fed afterwards.
Frye Island is separated from the mainland by a deep and treacherous passage called “The Gut”. Frye Island is named after Captain Frye, an Indian hunter and a native of Scarborough. Pursued by a band of Indians, the Captain fled to the edge of a high cliff, once known as Standish Cove. He leaped from the top of the jagged rock into the snow which covered the frozen lake and crossed to the island for refuge. The Indians were so astonished at his daring leap that they abandoned the pursuit.
The cliff from which he leaped rises nearly 80 feet from a rock bed and has been called “Frye’s Leap” or “The Images”. During the steamboat era a man or boy was hired for the summer to live in a tent on the top. He was to appear before the boat passengers in Indian attire and, with blood curdling whoops, fire a gun in the air. The Images guard the island’s narrowest point and are pictographs painted by ancient Indians. Today there are only faint traces of the paintings found on the rock surfaces. They may be too faint for proper restoration. They once depicted Captain Frye making his leap, an Indian wigwam and the chief, a wounded bear, an Indian war dance, and a deer. Also pictured is an Indian girl who, according to an Indian legend, jumped to her death while being pursued by white men.
The maiden was Naragora (Gentle Fawn), the daughter of Waldola, an old hunter. She was betrothed to a young chief who had gone to the wars at Quebec. One day a young white man, sick, wounded and starving, arrived at the wigwam. Naragora watched over him and nursed him as a sister. Weeks passed and the man remained at the wigwam.
One day while Waldola was hunting, the white man called to Naragora and asked her to marry him. She refused his proposal. Again and again he beseeched her and she declined. Finally, to stop his proposals, she told him that she was to marry a young man of her tribe and that he would return in three months. The white man became enraged and threatened that she would never again see her young chief. Naragora fled. She met her father and together they returned to the wigwam. The white man was gone, however.
One afternoon, while waiting for the return of her fiancé, Naragora went to the lake. As she was looking into the tranquil waters, she heard a noise but was too late. She was apprehended by the man and he hurried away into the forest. That night, while he slept, she escaped and the next day was back with her father.
Waldola believed Naragora’s safety depended on them leaving the lake. A squad of white men appeared while they were making their preparations. He was ordered to lay down his rifle and, not instantly obeying, was fired upon. A struggle followed and Waldola was killed. Determined never to be captured, Naragora ran from the whites. She had hardly gone two miles when she heard the shouts of her pursuers getting closer. For a moment they stood together on the summit of the rock. Then she sprang from the heights, and the waters of Sebago Lake closed over her forever.
Beneath Frye’s Leap exists a narrow cove, once referred to as “The entrance to a classical tomb”. The opening was created by a fissure which became covered by natural growth. This grotto provides about 25 feet of sailing space below the lake’s waterline. A legend states that in the days when deep snow covered all the hills and ice never thawed from the streams, Manitou, the Mighty One, sent his son from his dwelling at the top of distant mountains down to the earth. The son’s breath warmed the land and mists rose until he could no longer see his mountain home. Then all at once, he felt himself falling through the air to a place beside waters of a lake. Before the mists cleared sufficiently for him to see his habitat, he fell in love with “the spirit of the lake”, a beautiful girl.
This was against his father’s wishes and his son was changed into an unshapely mass of stone and was bound to the earth as a mass of granite. But according to Indian belief, it was the guardian of the lake from any intrusion, because the rock could still hold a conversation with his father, the Mighty Manitou, whose voice was thunder and whose weapon was lightning.
SOURCES: “Sebago Lake Land” by Herbert Jones, “Lakes of Maine” by Daphne Merrill and “Raymond - Then and Now” by Ernest Knight.
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