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A hidden Island revealed: Chamber of Commerce’s new guide encourages exploring

Do you know where the Devil’s Footprint is on the Island? How about the Japanese Bridge? Or where Captain Kidd is rumored to have hidden his treasure?

These, along with more familiar spots, are featured in a new guide to little-known historic places, now available free from the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce (shelterislandchamber.org/guide).

To obtain a download of the guide, you simply need to submit an email address at the site, and identify as either a part-time or full-time resident or visitor. This will enable the Chamber to build a database of contacts who are interested in the Island.

The response so far, since the guide was posted on the site March 9, has been “huge,” according to Chamber president Linda Eklund. She said the responses, evenly divided among visitors, part-time and full-time residents, have been coming from as far away as Canada and South America.

The guide was compiled by Bob McInnis, whose digital marketing agency in Greenport (mcinnisdigital.com) specializes in lead generation and customer acquisition.

After compiling a list of sites with Chamber board members, he worked closely with Nanette Lawrenson and Rachel Lucas from the Shelter Island Historical Society, drawing largely on exhibits recently curated by the Society.

Lore is provided on Manhanset House, Sunset Rock, the Quaker Monument and several other sites.

Klenawicus Airfield, in the news of late over a controversial proposal to site a wasterwater treatment facility there, has a rich history of the Island’s early aviation pioneers. It was nicknamed Klenawicus International Airport, the guide tells us, when Sidney Stiber left from Shelter Island and flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe in a two-engine airplane in 1967.

Kissing Rock is a widely known and easily accessible spot, but less well known is Sunset Rock, the throne of Sachem Pogatticut, king of the Manhanset native peoples, who viewed his last sunset from there the day of his death in 1654. The rock can be accessed along the Dering Harbor beach, by following the directions in the guide, and is easy to see from boats.

The charming story of the Island rehearsal of the play “Peter Pan” is told in a brief, illustrated history of Westmoreland Farm.

It’s easy to draw comparisons between the fictional island of the story and Shelter Island, the guide says: “Peter Pan playwright Sir James Barrie came to visit his friend Thomas Turner, a New York socialite and owner of Westmoreland House on Shelter Island. He kept the Island in mind while he created the background for the play, describing Never Never Land as “always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of color here and there. Not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed.”

From the days of the Indigenous people, through the arrival of Quakers fleeing persecution in the time of the first European settlers, to the Island’s agrarian and fishing history, through the quirky architectural structures that stand as the legacy of some of the Island’s wealthy moguls, to the heady days when the Island’s hotels, like the 840-room Manhanset House, welcomed elite, well-heeled visitors by steamboat, the guide traces several consequential eras in the Island’s history.

The interactive guide offers links to Google maps to help the reader find each site, as well as further background on their stories.

The guide is offered to interest visitors to the Island, but is free and accessible to Islanders as well, who will enjoy exploring some hidden corners of home.

Businesses can then “respectfully get back to them,” Ms. Eklund said, to see what they would like to know more about. With new or renovated businesses on the Island in the coming season, there will be a lot of changing information to share. “Change is inevitable,” Ms. Eklund said, “it can be exciting; we want to make it an interesting experience for everybody.”