Maine wilderness hermit captured after 30 years, 1,000 burglaries

Torn from a Jack London novel, Christopher Knight survived without human contact on what little he needed

Topics: Maine, hermit, wilderness, theft, christopher knight, Crime, jack london, ,

Maine wilderness hermit captured after 30 years, 1,000 burglariesBooking photo of Christopher Knight, arrested Thursday, April 4, 2013, while stealing food from a camp in Rome, Maine. (Credit: AP/Kennebec County Sheriff's Office)

You probably haven’t heard of Christopher Knight. Until this week, almost no one had. But for decades there were tales told of “the hermit of the North Pond” — a furtive figure,  torn from the pages of a Jack London novel, living deep in the wilderness of central Maine, surviving on wits and what little he would pilfer from nearby campsites.

On Wednesday, the Maine Morning Sentinel reported that Knight’s time in the wild had been abruptly ended with an arrest during a burglary last week. He had reportedly committed over 1,000 burglaries over his three decades living in isolation “always taking only what he needed to survive,” the Morning Sentinel noted, reporting that “the 47-year-old hermit now awaits his future at the Kennebec County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $5,000 cash bail on charges of burglary and theft.”

Knight’s story is both mythic and remarkable. Reportedly, in 27 years of living in a makeshift campsite, the wilderness man spoke only once to another human being — a hiker. Otherwise, his minor thefts and acts of concealment were carried out with such stealth that Sgt. Terry Hughes of the Maine Warden Service had thought he was trained in the military. “To maintain his position is phenomenal,” Hughes said, noting, “I couldn’t fathom why he has done what he has done.” (Meanwhile, the warden’s long-term mission to catch the unobtrusive hermit could be the more unfathomable act in this story).

You Might Also Like

Here are a few of our favorite details uncovered about Knight’s time in the woods:

  • Knight graduated from Lawrence High School in 1984. His senior photo in the yearbook shows him standing with his arms crossed and no hint of a smile on his face. Knight listed no clubs or activities and, for future plans, said he would be a computer technician. Two years later he took to the woods.
  • Warden Dan Christianson said Knight had been at his current location since 1989. On Tuesday, Christianson pointed to a spot a few feet away from Knight’s tent: “He said he’s watched that mushroom grow for the last four years.”
  • [Over his campsite] he draped dark tarps over rope strung between trees, and tarps underneath, to give added protection from rain. One of those ropes has been in place so long that it has grown deep into the tree.
  • “He doesn’t hunt,” Hughes said. “He tried fishing a few times but it was too much work.”
  • He read whatever he could get.

Godspeed, hermit of the North Pond. Per “White Fang,” may the wild still linger in him.


Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>