David Ingram's Trek

...It remained for Samuel de Champlain to spike the legend of a City of Norumbega, storied like a New Jerusalem, where natives, clad in expensive furs and displaying gold and pearl garters, lived in stately mansions pillared with silver and crystal. In September 1604, after passing Mount Desert and Isle au Haut, Champlain sailed boldly up the Penobscot to the head of navigation at the site of Bangor. He reported no city, no precious metals, nothing. "This river," he wrote, "is that which several pilots and historians call Norembegue. . . . They also assert that there is there a big town inhabited by skilled and clever savages, who use cotton. I am convinced that the greater part of those who mention it never saw it, and speak of it only by hearsay. . . . That anyone ever entered the river is unlikely, or they would have described it differently."

But Maine clings to the legend as one of her folk tales, and within her ample borders Norumbega has become a favorite name for hills, yachts, and villas. Sailors along the Maine coast, when the summer sun makes fantastic figures in a lifting fog, may even now imagine that they see the towers and battlements of a shimmering dream-city; and someone who knows the story will sing out, "Norumbega!"

See other excerpts from Morison in the General History: Contemporary Sources bibliography, Norumbega Reconsidered bibliography and Ancient Pemaquid essays.  Also see our information file on Morison's excellent description of the wet and dry fisheries of Labrador and Newfoundland.