Tag Archives: centennial

Reopening the historic vistas of Acadia National Park

UPDATE 12/11/14: Added links to Acadia National Park Service page showing all historic views being restored, and new Friends of Acadia article on the project, at bottom of article.

For the first time in years, there’s once again a spectacular view at Schooner Head Overlook in Acadia National Park, out toward Egg Rock and its lighthouse, and across Frenchman Bay to Schoodic Peninsula.

Schooner Head Overlook view blocked

BEFORE – This was one of up to 100 trees blocking the view from Schooner Head Overlook.

On a recent Monday, with chainsaw in hand, Charlie Sanborn took down one of the last of the up to 100 trees blocking that easterly view. As he, Earl Smith, Ryan Meddaugh and Curtis Emerson, all part of the Acadia road maintenance crew, wrapped up for the afternoon, they stepped back and admired their handiwork.

Schooner Head Overlook panoramic view

AFTER – Taken from the same exact spot as the “before” picture, under partly sunny skies the following day, with the now-open view to Egg Rock and its lighthouse, and across Frenchman Bay to Schoodic Peninsula.

“It’s been a long time” since the view was visible, said Sanborn. “You couldn’t see the lighthouse before,” said Smith. The crew returned the next day to expand the vista toward Champlain’s Precipice, at the western end of the overlook parking lot.

Opening back up the panorama from Schooner Head Overlook is part of a grand plan to rehabilitate 30 historic vistas along the Park Loop Road, existing pull-outs and parking lots, according to Robert Page, director of the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation in Boston, part of the National Park Service. Continue reading

Acadia National Park aided by policies of Theodore Roosevelt and FDR

Long before he was president and signed a law that later helped preserve land for Acadia National Park, Theodore Roosevelt spent some of the happiest days of his life on Mount Desert Island.

Theodore Roosevelt visited Mount Desert Island in the late 1800s

Theodore Roosevelt visited Thunder Hole and other sites before Acadia National Park was founded. (NPS photo)

After he graduated from Harvard in 1880, Roosevelt vacationed near Schooner Head on Mount Desert, partly to inspire writing of his epic “The Naval War of 1812.” Roosevelt was also drawn to the island by the landscape paintings of Mount Desert by two of his favorite artists – Frederic Church and Thomas Cole of the Hudson River School.

Roosevelt, then 22, was joined on the island that summer by two friends, Dick Saltonstall and Jack Tebbetts, and later, Alice Lee, who would become his first wife.

“He was lulled by the murmuring ocean, he picked baskets of cranberries, collected shellfish in the tidal marsh and gathered wild berries, and when Alice .. arrived, strolled ‘with my darling in the woods and on the rocky shores’,” according to “The Wilderness Warrior,” a biography of Roosevelt by Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University in Texas who quoted from Roosevelt’s diaries.

Even though a doctor at Harvard warned Roosevelt that year that his heart was “terribly weak” and he could die young, Roosevelt rode horseback, hiked and sailed while visiting Mount Desert, Brinkley wrote. A “favorite locale” was 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain, then called Green Mountain.

Roosevelt, and his fifth cousin, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, along with Eleanor Roosevelt – wife of FDR and niece of Theodore Roosevelt – are now being featured in “The Roosevelts: An intimate history,” a seven-part series on public television by filmmaker Ken Burns. Continue reading

Visit Acadia National Park for free Aug. 25, other select times

Acadia National Park – already one of the best vacation bargains around at the normal entry fee of $20 for 7 days – gets even better on Aug. 25.

That’s the day Acadia is free, in honor of the National Park Service’s 98th birthday, along with more than 100 National Park-run units that normally charge an entrance fee.

Acadia National Park visitor center

Hull’s Cove Visitor Center in Acadia National Park

Every year on Aug. 25, the National Park Service celebrates Founders Day, marking the United States as the first country in the world to create national parks.

The National Park Foundation, a non-profit chartered by Congress in 1967 to partner with the National Park Service, has set up a Web site to allow people to wish the park service “Happy Birthday”, and to make a tax-deductible gift to help support what has been called America’s best idea.

In 2016, the park service will mark its Centennial, as will Acadia. And as the park service approaches its second century, the issue of federal funding and fee structure will be a continued source of debate, according to a recent article by National Parks Traveler. Continue reading

Retrace George Dorr’s footsteps on the Beachcroft Path in Acadia National Park

Another in a series of historic hiking trail highlights leading up to the Acadia Centennial

Walk along the intricately laid stepping stones of Beachcroft Path, and you will find yourself walking in the footsteps of George Dorr, the “father of Acadia National Park.”

George B. Dorr is father of Acadia National Park

George B. Dorr on Beachcroft Path in Acadia National Park. National Park Service photo.

First built in the late 1800s by Dorr and the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association, Beachcroft Path originally began at the garden-like setting of Sieur de Monts.

Construction of Maine Route 3 severed that connection, with the Beachcroft Path trailhead now across from the Tarn parking area, on the east side of Route 3.

But a garden-like series of stepping stones still brings hikers up gradually around dome-shaped Huguenot Head, as it did in the days of Dorr.

Named after the estate of the Bar Harbor summer resident who funded construction, Beachcroft Path offers views north toward Frenchman Bay, west toward Dorr Mountain, south toward the Cranberry Isles, east toward Champlain Mountain, and down to the Tarn.

Hikers today can envision how the path might have been one of Dorr’s favorites. There is an iconic photo of him in front of a distinctive large granite boulder, one foot on a smaller rock, and the stepping stones stretching behind and in front of him. Continue reading

Bubble Rock in Acadia National Park a popular destination

Another in a series of historic hiking trail highlights leading up to the Acadia Centennial

Dating back to the late 1800s, the trail to South Bubble and its precariously perched 100-ton Bubble Rock has lured scientists, artists, outdoor enthusiasts and first-time visitors for generations, long before the area was protected as Acadia National Park.

Bubble Rock in Acadia National Park helped prove the Ice Age

100-ton Bubble Rock in Acadia National Park moved about 20 miles by glaciers.

Eons of geological forces are laid bare there if you know what clues to look for, as a ranger-led “Mountain Mysteries” program reveals during the summer months.

In fact, Bubble Rock was one of those clues that led 19th century scientist Louis Agassiz to theorize that massive glaciers once covered the earth and pushed big boulders around, not floods of biblical proportions as had been previously thought.

The moderate 1-mile round-trip hike starts from the Bubble Rock parking area and Island Explorer bus stop and takes you first along the Bubbles Divide Trail, the historic route that goes between the South Bubble and North Bubble, then up the lower of the twin mountains. Continue reading

Of wonder and wilderness in Acadia National Park

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which gives the strongest form of land protection to nearly 110 million pristine acres across the country.

While Acadia as a national park has different protections, and the busiest days atop Cadillac may make it seem like wilderness lost, there is still no better place and time to reflect on the meaning of wilderness and the landmark law than on a trip to Acadia and Bar Harbor this summer.

Acadia National Park Sand Beach Beehive wilderness

Fog lifts to reveal the wonder of Sand Beach and Beehive

Let the fury of a storm-tossed ocean, a hike along the Wonderland Trail, the call and pecking of a pileated woodpecker, or moments of early-morning solitude put you in your place in nature’s grand scheme of things.

Or attend a “Celebrate the Wild” film festival, kicking off on Sunday, June 22, at 2 p.m., at Bar Harbor’s Reel Pizza Cinerama, with “Forever Wild: Celebrating America’s Wilderness.” Former Acadia National Park superintendent Paul Haertel is the special guest speaker. Continue reading