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The History of Cromwell Island

Cromwell Island is one of the most famous locations on Flathead Lake. It made national news when it hit the real estate market a few years ago, however, there is more to the history of this island than you probably realize! 

mapCromwell Island wasn’t always an island

It wasn’t until the 1930s, with the construction of Kerr Dam near Polson, that Cromwell Island became an island. Before then, Cromwell Island was a peninsula during times of low water. That made it possible for Native Americans in the area to easily herd their horses there on their way to their final destination, Wild Horse Island. 

The folklore of Cromwell Island

According to ancient oral history of the Kootenai Tribe, a monster lives in the waters surrounding Cromwell Island. The legend goes that in 1889, a steamboat captain and his 100 passengers were passing through the area when they saw a massive creature come to the water’s surface. One of the passengers shot it and is dove back into the water, not to be seen again. They say the monster is “whale-like” with antlers. Keep your eyes peeled if you are out on the water to see if you are able to catch a glimpse of “Flessie.”  

Cromwell Island’s private ownership

In the 1980s, Robert M. Lee bought Cromwell Island. Robert M. Lee was best known as a safari leader and outfitter who made much of his money selling luxury luggage with his brand “Hunting World.” Lee began building a huge home on the island in the 1990s but was unable to finish it before his death in 2016. 

The mansion on Cromwell Island

The incomplete mansion on Cromwell Island is over 45,000 square feet. According to the listing agent for the property, Hall and Hall, “every component of construction was employed with the idea that it should last over a thousand years.” The massive home features a terracotta tile roof, a dolomitic limestone exterior, suspended staircases in the entryway, and Swietenia Mahogany wood trim throughout the home. The property also has a completed guest villa and a boat dock fit for a 65 foot yacht.

Cromwell Island today

Cromwell Island is still listed for sale by Hall and Hall online. Unfortunately, unless you are looking to buy the $72 million property, it is off limits to visitors. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t admire the property from its shores! 

Go Sail Flathead Lake offers sailing charters that include the opportunity to sail around Cromwell Island and get a great view of the property from all angles! Your captain can also give you additional information about the island and its history during your tour. Learn more about these sailing charters and book yours here.