Bar Harbor Acadia
Home Up Halifax Nova Scotia

New England Home Who Went? 1 Salem Village 2 Martha's Vineyard 3 Bar Harbor Acadia 4 Halifax Nova Scotia
5 St John New Brunswick 6 Portland Maine 7 Day at Sea Curse of the Jewel The Artwork of Jane Wooster Scott


Day Three brought us to Acadia, the most anticipated location on the trip.  Acadia National Park is located in Maine on an island. This rock-bound area is known as Mount Desert Island.   The geography of Acadia National Park ranges from soft meadows and marshes to mountains covered with dense evergreen forests to huge waves crashing against a rocky coastline. 

Wherever you look, nature's beauty abounds.  On every corner of the island, the ocean makes its presence felt, whether by sight, sound or smell.  From the mountains above, you can see glacier-carved valleys below with beautiful deep lakes.  From the sea, you can spot rugged granite cliffs side by side with sandy cobblestone beaches. 

Acadia is a paradise.

I had heard many wonderful things about Acadia National Park, but during my tour I was told that Acadia is the second most-visited park in the country. I checked that out on Google and found it to be incorrect.  So here is a game for you:

Acadia ME
Big Bend TX
Grand Canyon AZ
Grand Teton WY Zion UT
Great Smoky Mountains TN, NC
Olympic WA
Rocky Mountain CO
Yellowstone ID,MT,WY

Yosemite CA

Which of the ten parks listed is Number One?
Which of the ten parks listed above does not belong on this list?
And which of the 3 parks below did I delete to make room for the bogus Top 10 park?

Cuyahoga Valley OH
Glacier MT
Haleakala HI

See answers to Rick's Incredible Geography Quiz


Acadia was a sparsely-populated island that served mainly as a fishing base until it was 'discovered' by the rich and famous during the 1800s.  It was the outsiders - artists and journalists - who first popularized this island to the world in the mid-1800's.  Painters such as Thomas Cole and Frederick Church glorified Mount Desert Island with their brushstrokes

They sold their canvases to sponsors in Boston and New York.  As their wealthy patrons bought the paintings, they exclaimed about the beauty of the landscape.  Once they discovered this beautiful area was more than just a figment of the artist's imagination, they invited friends to sail with them up the coast and see the place for themselves.  That is how Acadia became the In Spot of the day.

Undaunted by crude accommodations and simple food, the visitors sought out local fishermen and farmers to put them up for a modest fee. Summer after summer, they returned to renew friendships with local islanders and, most of all to savor the fresh salt air, beautiful scenery, and relaxed pace.

Soon the villagers' cottages and fishermen's huts were filled to overflowing.  By 1880 thirty hotels competed for vacationers' dollars. Tourism was becoming the major industry of the island, far surpassing the fishing.  

For a select handful of Americans, the 1880s and the "Gay Nineties" meant affluence on a scale without precedentMount Desert Island, still remote from the cities of the East, became a retreat for prominent people of the times. The Rockefellers, Morgans, Fords, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, and Astors, chose to spend their summers here.

Not content with the simple lodgings then available, these families transformed the landscape of Mount Desert Island with elegant estates, euphemistically called "cottages." Luxury, refinement and ostentatious gatherings replaced buckboard rides, picnics, and day-long hikes of an earlier era. For over 40 years, the wealthy held sway at Mount Desert, but the Great Depression and World War II marked the end of such extravagance.

The final blow came in 1947 when a fire of monumental proportions consumed many of the great estates.  That put an end to the Party Era once and for all.  However, the days of the wealthy people did not ruin the island.  In fact, these people took steps to insure its beauty would be preserved.  Though the affluent had come here to frolic, they had much to do with preserving the landscape that we know today.  From from this social strata emerged George B. Dorr, a tireless spokesman for conservation, who devoted 43 years of his life, energy, and family fortune to preserving the Acadian landscape.

In 1901, disturbed by the growing development of the Bar Harbor area and the dangers he foresaw in the newly invented gasoline powered portable sawmill, George Dorr and others established the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations. The sole purpose of this corporation was to preserve land for the perpetual use of the public.  They had acquired 6000 acres by 1913.  

Dorr offered the land to the federal government. In 1916, President Wilson announced the creation of Sieur de Monts National Monument.  Dorr continued to acquire property and renewed his efforts to obtain full national park status for his beloved preserve.

In 1919, President Wilson signed the act establishing Lafayette National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi. Dorr, whose labors constituted "the greatest of one-man shows in the history of land conservation" became the first park superintendent.

In 1929, the park name changed to Acadia. Today the park encompasses 35,000 acres, and the simple pleasures of "ocean, forests, lakes, and mountains" that for over a century and a quarter have been sought and found by millions, are yours to enjoy.


Bar Harbor serves as the gateway to Acadia National Park. The water is not deep enough to allow the giant cruise ships to dock.  Instead the ships have to anchor about half a mile outside the harbor.   Small boats that double as lifeboats known as Tenders shuttle the passengers back and forth.

Due to a great deal of problems with the tender boats that ferried us to shore, many of us did not get on the island till the afternoon.  Just in case you were curious, yes, we were very grouchy.  We'll talk about it later.

The area in the picture at the left is exactly where the tenders dropped us off.  The lovely city of Bar Harbor is very small and within easy walking distance of the pier.

Marla and I spent the day with Cher Longoria and Robert Goins.  Our first order of business was to eat Authentic New England Clam Chowder. Yum!  I believe lobster cakes came next.  I made a big mistake saying 'no' to a sampling of blueberry pie, another specialty of the area.  What was I thinking?  I still can't imagine what came over me.  Marla glared at me for the rest of the day.  

The four of us got a ride on Oli's Trolley.  Our tour guide was a 70 year old man named Bill who bore an amazing resemblance to Clint Eastwood.  Bill was a great guy.  He didn't have to read about Acadia History... he had already lived through most of it.  For example, there was a catastrophic fire in 1947 that devastated almost the entire island.  Bill saw it first-hand and told us the details.  He said he had never been so scared in his life!  

Bill was a walking encyclopedia of everything and anything that happened on Acadia all the way back to the days of the Revolutionary War.  The way he talked, we assumed he was there for that too.

Bill drove us all around Acadia.  The highlight of our trip was a climb to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain visible on the East Coast from the Atlantic Ocean.  The neat thing about Cadillac was the 360 degree view from the top.  You could see the whole island from up there.

We ran into several other members of our group who were up on Cadillac with other tours.  As a result, we were able to snap a great group picture way up high on top of the world. 

Bill showed us a fabulous house that was the only large estate to survive the terrible 1947 fire (pictured at right).  Now known as Highseas, it was built in 1912 by Princeton professor Rudolph Brunnow as a wedding present for his fiancée.  He was a widower with several children who needed a mother.  The lovely young lady who lived in England was filled with excitement as she boarded her ship to sail to America for her wedding.  Alas, she died on the maiden voyage of the Titanic and never saw the magnificent home. 

Not long afterwards, Professor Brunnow
laid out the now famous Precipice Trail near his house. He fell while mountain climbing and was not found until the following morning. He developed pneumonia and died at his house.  My guess is this house is likely to be haunted for all the tragedy it has seen. 

There was so much to see in Acadia, but we only had about three hours before we had to get back on the tenders.  It drove us crazy not to be to explore the many interesting trails of an arboretum that Bill took us to.  As we looked around with what little time we had, we were disappointed to note a near total absence of Fall color.  So far neither Boston, Martha's Vineyard, nor Acadia had much to offer in the way of color.  So much for the SSQQ marketing slogan - Come see Nature's Paintbrush.

We inadvertently stepped into a library that housed all kinds of maps and pictures of the area.  I really was interested in seeing what was in there. However the lady at the desk said it would be $2 to visit.  We looked at each other and shook our head.  We only had 5 more minutes.  Another disappointment.  This day was driving me crazy!

There is a legend of the Greek hero Odysseus where he wanted to hear the music of the Sirens more than anything else in the world.  He knew there was a huge risk. Their song was so irresistible that any sailor who heard it went mad with desire.  The sailor would be unable to resist bringing his boat closer to shore.  However a sad fate awaited as every ship would wreck upon on the treacherous underwater reefs and the men who go to their deaths.   Odysseus was undeterred. He filled the ears of each man with wax.  Then he had them tie him to a mast so he could hear the music, but be helpless to do anything about it.  As they passed the Sirens, Odysseus screamed with madness at his inability to get closer to the music. 

As I left Acadia National Park, my heart was heavy with the desire to see more.  This place was sheer magic, but I felt cheated.  Marla and I wanted to spend the day biking and hiking, but we had so little time we had to settle for a bus trip. Now I knew exactly how Odysseus felt.  I had barely even touched this sacred ground and now I had to leave.  

The place didn't kill me, but I sure left in a bad mood.

The Cadillac Mountain Crew

Top Row, Left to Right: Risa Pippen, Robert Goins, Mike Maresh, Joe Pikas, Sol Eisenbaum , Dan Bates, Jess Carnes
Bottom Row: George Keiller, Marla Archer, Judy Bates, Rebecca Thayer,  Cher Longoria, Donna Maresh, Leeane Parkinson, Pat Carnes

See the cruise ships way in the background?

The Acadia Wildlife Preserve (they were definitely wild)

Statistics for 2002 on Most-Visited USA National Parks
  1. Great Smoky Mountains TN, NC 9,316,420
  2. Grand Canyon AZ 4,001,974
  3. Olympic WA 3,691,310
  4. Yosemite CA 3,361,867
  5. Cuyahoga Valley OH 3,217,935
  6. Rocky Mountain CO 2,988,475
  7. Yellowstone ID,MT,WY 2,973,677
  8. Grand Teton WY 2,612,629
  9. Zion UT 2,592,545
  10. Acadia ME 2,558,572

Guess what?  Big Bend, TX  was not in Top 20, much less the Top 10.  It is said to be a great park, so my guess is that Big Bend is handicapped due to its location at the bottom of Texas.  I've never been there. How about you?

11. Glacier MT 1,905,689
12.  Mammoth Cave KY 1,891,307
13.  Haleakala HI 1,521,080
14.  Hot Springs AR 1,440,227
15.  Shenandoah VA 1,389,244
16.  Mount Rainer WA 1,310,390
17.  Joshua Tree CA 1,178,376
18.  Hawaii Volcanoes HI 1,110,998
19.  Everglades FL 968,909
20.  Sequoia CA 920,292

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New England Home Who Went? 1 Salem Village 2 Martha's Vineyard 3 Bar Harbor Acadia 4 Halifax Nova Scotia
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