Acadia National Park
Maine, USA
July 2003


Acadia National Park is next to Bar Harbor and is about six hours drive from Norfolk, MA. Some 500 million years ago, what we now know as Mount Desert Island began taking shape on the ocean floor. Erosion swept sediments from the North Amercian continental plate -- sand, silt, and mud -- and later volcanic ash and seaweed, out to sea. There, they slowly amassed and hardened into what would become some of the island bedrock.


Above at Sand Beach. In 1524, the Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazano is credited with christening the area that is now Maine and the Canadian Maritimes with the name L'Acadie or Acadia.


Eighty years later, in 1604, the French explorer Samuel Champlain gave it the name l'Isles des Monts-deserts which is now known as Mount Desert Island. Champlain, who crossed the Atlantic 29 times and later founded Quebec, is believed to have run aground at Otter Point, where he met members of the Wabanaki tribe.


A party of French Jesuits, who settled at the mouth of Somes Sound in 1613, were also warmly greeted by the Wabanaki. The priests intended to establish a mission there but were soon pushed out by English explorers who were determined to expand northward from their settlements in Virginia. For the next century, the French and British would struggle for control of Acadia.


In 1759, the British finally prevailed when they defeated the French in Quebec, but not before a young French nobleman laid claim to a large section of the Maine coast. Sieur de Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac stopped long enough on Mount Desert to lend his name to the island's highest mountain before moving on to found the city of Detroit.


Because of Mount Desert Island's proximity to sailing routes, the western side of the island was settled first. Later arrivals gravitated to the island's eastern half, where the soil proved better for familing. Then known as Eden, Bar Harbor was incorporated as a town in 1796.


A Maine politician once remarked that "the portable sawmill created Acadia National Park." Concerned that this tool of progress would cut a swath through their island paradise, a group of summer residents, led by the president of Harvard University, Charles W. Eliot, formed a public land trust in 1901 to protect the island from uncontrolled development. The group had the foresight to appoint George Bucknam Dorr as its director. A member of a highly regarded Boston family that had made its fortune in textiles, Dorr would spend the next 43 years (and much of his own wealth) tirelessly working to protect and preserve Acadia for public use.
The land trust's first notable acquisition was the chiseled headland known as The Beehive, in 1908, followed soon by the summit of 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain. By 1916, Dorr secured national monument status for the trust, and in 1919, it became the first national park to be established east of the Mississippi. As a nod to its French heritage, it was named Lafayette National Park. Dorr was appointed the first superintendent, a position he held until his death in 1944.


Monument Cove.


We are here at the summit of Mount Cadillac and the waters off Bar Harbor is in the background.


Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the Atlantic seaboard north of Brazil.
The text materials in this page came from the official park guide.