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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 featured in “The Roosevelts: An intimate history,” a seven-part series on public television by filmmaker Ken Burns that first aired in 2014. Continue reading