What’s in a name?
Casco Bay has had many names.
Where did the name Casco come from?
The Abenakis called this place Aucocisco [ah-coh-sis-ko], which may translate as “Place of the Herons.” Some people say it may actually have meant “marshy place” or “place of the slimy mud.”
White explorers may have shortened Aucocisco to Casco
When Spanish explorer Estevan Gomez sailed into the Bay in 1525, he thought the Bay was shaped like a helmet, or casco in Spanish, and christened it Bahia de Casco, Bay of Helmet.
Colonel W. Romer made an inspection of Casco Bay for the Crown in 1700. He reported back to London, “Casco Bay had a multitude of islands, these being reported as many islands as there are days in the year.” Today, despite the fact that 785 islands and exposed ledges have been counted here in Casco Bay, the region is quaintly known as the Calendar Islands.
There is one name for Casco Bay that you will not find on any maps of today. When Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed into Casco Bay in 1524, the Native American inhabitants shot arrows and fled into the interior. When they emerged, they rudely jeered and mooned his crew. He named this area, The Land of the Bad People. Evidently, the natives had encountered European explorers before.