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Acadia National Park

Baker Island Lightkeeper's House - At Frenchman's Bay in 1933, the picture above shows the Light tower and Lightkeeper's house on Baker Island, just east of the Cranberry Isles.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

When people think of the great natural national park, they often think of those located in the west, like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. For others it's the large Appalachian parks like the Great Smokey Mountains, but for many in the northeast, their experience with national parks starts in the highly attended landscape of mountains, forest, and sea further up the Appalachian chain in Maine known as Acadia, the first national park east of the Mississippi.

  • The diverse landscape of Acadia National Park has been drawing visitors, both famous and not, since the beginning of American independence. Before that, of course, the area was home to the American Indians, dating back 6,000 years. The Wabanaki Indians lived off the land; hunting, fishing, and gathering plantlife within the variety of landscapes that dot the rugged coast and forests. But it was on September 5, 1604, sixteen years before Plymouth Road, that European influence began to take root. After French Jesuits attempted to inhabit the area, but were defeated by British loyalists, the land became contested for 150 years, until the British triumph at Quebec in 1759 effectively ended French dominion.

    Over the next hundred years, the area transformed from a sight of fishermen and sailors to a tourist haven for rich families. By 1901, conservationists led by George B. Dorr, had begun to preserve the land, eventually acquiring 6,000 acres for public use by 1913. Three years later, the land was accepted into the National Park system by President WIlson, who created Sieur de Monts National Monument. Three years later it was made the first national park east of the Mississippi when WIlson established Lafayette National Park. But much of the infrastructure, at least of the roads, came courtesy of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his family. Their gift of 45 miles of rustic carriage roads that weave through the scenery have provided a majestic and historic vantage point to view this land since their construction between 1913 and 1940. They were an integrated construction model for road building in the era, utilizing breast and retaining walls, and seventeen stone-faced bridges spaning the various streams and cliffsides along the Mount Desert Island route. These roads underwent a large rehabilition between 1992 and 1995, undertaken by the National Park Service and the Friends of Acadia.

    Acadia Dates of Importance

    1604 - European influence begins when French explorer, Samuel Champlain led an expedition that landed on Mount Desert.
    1613 - French Jesuits established the first French misison in America on Emerald Point.
    1759 - French dominion of Acadia halted for good after defeat by the British in Quebec.
    1880 - By this time, 30 hotesl had established Acadia as a tourist retreat for prominent individuals.
    1901 - Effort to conserve the area for public use begun by George B. Dorr.
    1913 - John D. Rockefeller begins his construction of the carriage roads.
    1916 - Transfered to the National Park system as Sieur de Monts National Monument. Three years later established as Lafayette National Park.
    1929 - Park name changed to Acadia National Park.
    1940 - The carriage road system is completed.
    1992-1995 - Extensive rehabiliation on the park's 45 miles of carriage roads undertaken.
    1999 - The Island Explorer bus system for visitors begins.

  • Acadia Then

    Although much of the focus of Acadia today has to do with its recreational wonders, the history of the area is replete with the stories of its Indian ancestors, the French versus British struggle for control of the territory, its seafaring and forest history, plus the recreation prospects begun in the late 1800s by many of the nation's richest citizens.



    Acadia Now

    Over the next hundred years, the area transformed from a sight of fishermen and sailors to a tourist haven for rich families. By 1901, conservationists led by George B. Dorr, had begun to preserve the land, eventually acquiring 6,000 acres for public use by 1913. Three years later, the land was accepted into the National Park system by President WIlson, who created Sieur de Monts National Monument. Three years later it was made the first national park east of the Mississippi when WIlson established Lafayette National Park. But much of the infrastructure, at least of the roads, came courtesy of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his family. Their gift of 45 miles of rustic carriage roads that weave through the scenery have provided a majestic and historic vantage point to view this land since their construction between 1913 and 1940. They were an integrated construction model for road building in the era, utilizing breast and retaining walls, and seventeen stone-faced bridges spaning the various streams and cliffsides along the Mount Desert Island route. These roads underwent a large rehabilition between 1992 and 1995, undertaken by the National Park Service and the Friends of Acadia.


  • Much of what is available to do at Acadia has to do with how long your visit will be. You could spend more than a week in this national park.

    1. For all. Stop at the Hull Cove Visitor Center and watch the 15 minute video about the park, then step on one of the many Island Explorer buses, free with your entrance fee, to start your exploration.
    2. Join a ranger for one of the many free walks, or take one of the many boat and bus tours for a fee. There are four different boat tours; Baker Island Cruise 4.5 hours, Dive-In Theater Boat Cruise, 3 hours, Frenchman Bay Cruise, 2 hours, and the Islesford Historical Cruise, 2.5 hours.
    3. Take a drive along the Park Loop Road, 20 miles, and the road to Cadillac Mountain, 3.5 miles. The variety of views of the mountains, forests, and ocean are breathtaking.
    4. For a step back in time, take a horse-drawn carriage tour around some of Roosevelt's 45 miles of carriage roads. Fee service.


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