Camp Etna in Etna, Maine - Atlas Obscura

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Camp Etna

Etna, Maine

A major spiritual gathering place in central Maine since the mid-1800s. 

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On 27 acres along US Route 2 west of Bangor, you will find Camp Etna, home to the Etna Spiritualist Association.  It has been an American gathering center for mediums, healers, and others for close to 170 years.

American spiritualism emerged in the late 1800s. Some early practitioners were proven as frauds, but the movement grew in the American Northeast. Records of meetings officially begin in 1876 but the camp’s history dates back to the 1840s. By 1876 spiritualists would arrive every summer for meetings and lectures from the leading thinkers of the day, with an entry fee of ten cents a day. The camp was born as some attendees put down firmer roots. The peak of the camp was in the early 1900s, with more than 130 cottages, with thousands attending summer camp activities. 

The Etna Spiritualist Association was born in September 1919. The camp also was involved early in the women’s rights/feminist movement, with female camp members visible in many issues.

Prominent visitors have included Harrison D. Barrett, the first president of the U.S. National Spiritualist Association, and U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith. The camp was given a Maine Governor’s Day proclamation in 1911. 

In the camp, there is a large memorial stone for Mary S. Vanderbilt, who died in 1911. Her grave and headstone are in Barrett Square. Mary Drake Jenne worked with them from 1902 until Harrison passed to spirit in 1911 and Mary Vanderbilt in 1919. Mary Drake Jenne continued to be a worker for Spiritualism until her death in 1946.

Visitors are welcome to park, explore, and even take the short downhill walk to Etna Pond to the north. There are many cottages throughout the camp, approximately 50, in various states of repair, centered around the camp green. 

If interested in more on Camp Etna, see Mira Ptacin’s 2019 The In-Betweens: The Spiritualists, Medums, and Legends of Camp Etna.

Know Before You Go

Camp Etna is open year-round, that is, the public streets are open and you can drive in, drive around, get out and explore, etc. But the majority of camp activities are seasonal, usually June-August. There is no charge for admission to the camp, but some camp activities may involve costs. Full schedules and activity information are on the detailed and informative Camp Etna website.

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