Smuttynose Island – Maine, New Hampshire

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 17 January 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.


Smuttynose Island, which is located between Maine and New Hampshire on Isles of Shoals, is a terrifying mystery. A history shrouded in rumors sits amid the tranquil surroundings, and the very air itself echoes with the unanswered questions. Prepare for an adventure into the unknown.


Smuttynose Island is home to tales from centuries past and has a rich marine history. It was a thriving fishing and commerce center when it was first settled in the 17th century. It gained notoriety in the 19th century for its lighthouse, which helped ships navigate hazardous waters. The tight-knit inhabitants of the island endured chilly winters and survived on the bounty of the sea.

Tragedy struck in 1873 with the infamous Smuttynose Murders, where two Norwegian women were brutally killed. This chilling event shook the island and remains a haunting mystery. Over the years, the island’s population dwindled, leaving behind whispers of its past.

Beyond its maritime heritage, Smuttynose Island holds captivating tales. Prohibition turned it into a bootlegging haven, with hidden coves facilitating smuggling. Pirates’ whispers speak of buried treasures waiting to be uncovered on its shores, adding a dash of mystery. Smuttynose Island’s history weaves maritime prowess, clandestine ventures, and whispered legends into an enticing tapestry. Unveil its layers and delve into the intrigue that defines this enigmatic island.

Old Smuttynose Island Light House
Old Smuttynose Island Light House – Credit stephmcparty

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Cold Blooded Ax Murder – Criminal Hanged

In the early 1870s, Smuttynose Island was a world of solitude and whispers, where only two souls, Maren and John Hontvet, sought refuge from the world’s chaos. Yet, fate’s design had other plans, as the island’s tranquility was about to be shattered by the arrival of a stranger named Louis Wagner.

Smuttynose Island only housed Maren and John Hontvet in the 1870s. Louis Wagner, a fisherman looking for tranquility, then arrived. John employed Louis after they grew close. While Maren’s brother and his wife joined the Hontvet family, Maren’s sister Karen relocated close by. Louis, broke, departed for the mainland. He became desperate, so he hatched a robbery plan. He rowed 12 miles to Smuttynose one starry night with the intention of stealing.

The moonlight got ominous as the violence broke out. Karen’s shouts broke the silence, and Anethe was struck by an ax. Maren fled and froze. After making coffee with bloody fingerprints, Louis ran away. As word spread, people looked for justice. When Louis was found, the mobs erupted. After a brief runaway, fate reclaimed him. On June 5, 1875, justice was served when Louis was executed by hanging.

Tomb of Karen & Anethe
Tomb of Karen & Anethe – Credit Rickpilot_2000/flickr

Ghostly Sighting – Karen And Anethe

The story of Smuttynose Island’s Murder is far from ended. There were first some rumors of ghostly people walking the seashore. Visitors described brief glimpses of Anethe’s ghost near the cliffs and Karen’s appearance in the moonlight. As the traces of the past blended with the living, the line separating the two realms became hazy.

The island’s legend continued to weave its enigmatic threads. Visitors arrived, drawn by the eerie aura that lingered. They claimed to hear footsteps in the quiet, to see shadows in the mist. The victims, Maren’s sister Karen and sister-in-law Anethe, were said to traverse the realm of the living, their presence a reminder of the island’s tragic past.

The ghostly silhouettes of the victims appeared to rise from the depths of time as the sun fell below the horizon, throwing sweeping shadows over the scene. On Smuttynose Island, the line between life and death, reality and the paranormal, blurred. With its eerie tune, the echo of the past insured that the mythology of the island would endure forever.

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Screaming Woman

In the heart of the 19th century, a haunting veil settled upon the remote haven known as Smuttynose Island. Amidst its rugged beauty, a tale of terror took root, whispering through time of a presence that refuses to fade.

Maren, a witness to the horrifying murder by Louis, sought refuge among the island’s stark landscape, her silent cries absorbed by the very rocks and waves that bore witness. Louis’s act tainted the island’s serenity, his malevolence seeping into every crevice.

To this day, a spectral presence lingers on Smuttynose Island. Visitors speak of hearing her cries carried on the winds, desperate whispers for help that pierce the silence. Maren’s sorrow, etched into the very fabric of the island, serves as a reminder of the blurred line between the living and the ethereal.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

Smuttynose Island has drawn the interest of numerous media outlets exploring the paranormal due to its historical relevance and spooky mystery. In the riveting documentary series “Shadows of the Unknown: Haunting Tales Unearthed,” where investigators probed deeply into the island’s spectral tales and spine-chilling experiences, the fascinating narrative took center stage.

In the literary world, Smuttynose Island has left its mark in books such as “Return to Smuttynose Island and other Maine Axe Murders” by Emeric Spooner and “Mystery on the Isles of Shoals” by J. Dennis Robinson. These literary works shed light on the island’s enigmatic tales, presenting captivating accounts of its ghostly past.

Presently, Smuttynose Island stands as an irresistible destination for both history buffs and enthusiasts of the paranormal. Its enigmatic presence in popular culture and literature casts an alluring spell, beckoning those who crave an immersive experience amidst its captivating and eerie ambiance. Just as its stories are etched in the annals of the island, the island itself etches an indelible mark in the hearts of those who dare to explore its haunting legacy.


Smuttynose Island, a place of eerie rumours and unsolved stories, has a spooky effect on the soul. Its creepy aura follows you as you leave as a reminder that some mysteries are meant to be kept hidden. The history of the island remains, luring the curious and the daring to succumb to its eerie attraction, where the boundary between the real and the supernatural blurs and the unknown calls.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Where is the location of Smuttynose Island?
Smuttynose Island is nestled among the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New Hampshire, USA.

Q: What is the eerie legend associated with Smuttynose Island?
The island is haunted by a chilling legend. In the 1870s, a violent act occurred where Louis Wagner attacked and killed Karen and Anethe. Their spirits are said to wander the island, their presence sometimes felt by visitors.

Q: Can visitors actually see the ghosts on Smuttynose Island?
Some visitors claim to have witnessed ghostly apparitions, glimpses of figures walking the shores, particularly near the cliffs and moonlit beaches.

Q: How do the ghosts of Karen and Anethe make themselves known?
Witnesses report hearing whispers carried by the wind, faint cries for help, and even seeing shadowy figures that resemble the two victims mentioned in the legend.

Q: Are there specific spots on the island where the ghosts are more commonly seen?
While there are no official reports of specific “haunted” spots, visitors have reported encountering the spectral figures near the areas associated with the legend, such as the cliffs and moonlit beaches.

Q: Is there any historical evidence supporting the legend?
The legend is primarily passed down through oral tradition and accounts from witnesses. While the historical accuracy of certain details may be debated, the impact of the tale on local folklore is undeniable.

Q: Has anyone tried to investigate or document the paranormal activity on the island?
While the legend has drawn interest, formal investigations or documented evidence of paranormal activity remain limited. The island’s isolation and challenging weather conditions make such endeavors complex.

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