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Acadia National Park

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Title: Acadia National Park  
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Subject: List of islands of Maine, Maine, List of national parks of the United States, History of the National Park Service, List of U.S. National Parks by elevation
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Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Map showing the location of Acadia National Park
Location Hancock / Knox counties, Maine, USA
Nearest city Bar Harbor
Area 47,452.80 acres (19,203 ha)
933.23 acres (378 ha) private[1]
Established July 8, 1916 (1916-07-08)
Visitors 2,374,645 (in 2011)[2]
Governing body National Park Service
Aerial view, 3D computer-generated image

Acadia National Park is a National Park located in the U.S. state of Maine. It reserves much of Mount Desert Island, and associated smaller islands, off the Atlantic coast. Originally created as Lafayette National Park in 1919,[3] the oldest National Park east of the Mississippi River,[4] it was renamed Acadia in 1929.[3]


The area was originally inhabited by the Wabanaki people.[5]

While he was sailing down the coast of what is now Maine in the fall of 1604, Samuel de Champlain observed a large inshore island. He wrote:

"That same day we also passed near an island about four or five leagues [19 to 24 km] in length, off which we were almost lost on a little rock, level with the surface of the water, which made a hole in our pinnace close to the keel. The distance from this island to the mainland on the north is not a hundred paces. It is very high and cleft in places, giving it the appearance from the sea of seven or eight mountains one alongside the other. The tops of them are bare of trees, because there is nothing there but rocks. The woods consist only of pines, firs, and birches. He named it Mount Desert island."[6]

Over four centuries later, the area remains essentially the same.[7]


The landscape architect Charles W., the president of Harvard, supported the idea both through donations of land and through advocacy at the state and federal levels. It first attained federal status when President Woodrow Wilson, established it as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916, administered by the National Park Service. On February 26, 1919, it became a national park, with the name Lafayette National Park in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, an influential French supporter of the American Revolution. The park's name was changed to Acadia National Park on January 19, 1929, in honor of the former French colony of Acadia which once included Maine.

From 1915 to 1933, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. financed, designed, and directed the construction of a network of carriage trails throughout the park. He sponsored the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, with the nearby family summer home Reef Point Estate, to design the planting plans for the subtle carriage roads at the Park (c.1930).[9] The network encompassed over 50 miles (80 km) of gravel carriage trails, 17 granite bridges, and two gate lodges, almost all of which are still maintained and in use today. Cut granite stones placed along the edges of the carriage roads act as guard rails of sort and are locally known as "coping stones" to help visitors cope with the steep edges. They are also fondly called "Rockefeller's teeth".

Fire of 1947

Beginning on October 17, 1947, 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of Acadia National Park were burned in a fire that began along the Crooked Road several miles west of Hulls Cove.[10] The forest fire was one of a series of fires that consumed much of Maine's forest as a result of a dry year. The fire burned until November 14, and was fought by the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, local residents, and National Park Service employees from around the country. Restoration of the park was supported, substantially, by the Rockefeller family, particularly John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Regrowth was mostly allowed to occur naturally and the fire has been suggested [11] to have actually enhanced the beauty of the park, adding diversity to tree populations and depth to its scenery.

Friends of Acadia

In 1986, a group of Acadia-area residents and park volunteers formed the membership-based nonprofit organization Friends of Acadia for the purpose of organizing volunteer effort and private philanthropy for the benefit of Acadia National Park. The group's first major achievement was a $3.4 million endowment to maintain the park’s 44-mile (71 km) carriage road system in perpetuity, which leveraged federal funds to fully restore the road system. Subsequent projects and partnerships included Acadia Trails Forever, making Acadia the first national park with an endowed trail system; the Island Explorer, a free, propane-powered bus system serving the park and local communities; and youth initiatives such as the Acadia Youth Technology Team, which engages local teens to help their peers connect with the park and develop the next generation of park stewards.[12]

Schoodic Education and Research Center

In 2002, the National Park Service acquired the former naval base located in the Schoodic Peninsula District of Acadia National Park, and renovated it into the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC). SERC is one of about 20 National Park Service research learning centers in the United States, and is the largest of all these facilities. It is dedicated to supporting the scientific research in the park, providing professional development for teachers, and educating students to become a new generation of stewards who will help conserve our natural and cultural treasures.[13]

Terrain and features

Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands around the town of Bar Harbor, viewed from Cadillac Mountain

The park includes mountains, an ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. In addition to Mount Desert Island, the park comprises much of the Isle au Haut, parts of Baker Island, and a portion of the Schoodic Peninsula on the mainland.

In total, Acadia National Park consists of more than 47,000 acres (19,000 ha),[3] including 30,300 acres (12,300 ha) on Mount Desert Island, 2,728 acres (1,104 ha) on Isle au Haut and 2,366 acres (957 ha) on the Schoodic Peninsula. The permanent park boundary, as established by act of Congress in 1986, includes a number of private in-holdings that the park is attempting to acquire.

Cadillac Mountain, named after the French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, is on the eastern side of the island. Its green, lichen-covered, pink granite summit is, because of a combination of its eastern location and height, one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise. Miles of carriage roads were originally built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The mountains of Acadia National Park offer hikers and bicycle riders views of the ocean, island lakes, and pine forests.

The sky from light to dark during sunset atop Cadillac Mountain

The inlet Somes Sound, often described as the "only fjord on the East Coast",[14] is now called a fjard by officials[15][16]

About 2 million people visit this park per year.


Climate data for Acadia NP, ME, 1981-2010 normals, extremes 1982-present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
Average high °F (°C) 31.4
Average low °F (°C) 13.7
Record low °F (°C) −21
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.91
Snowfall inches (cm) 17.0
Avg. precipitation days 11.3 10.3 11.8 11.1 13.5 12.0 10.9 9.3 10.3 10.8 12.3 12.6 136.2
Source: [1]


The park is home to some 40 different species of mammalian wildlife. Among these are red and gray squirrels, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, moose, beaver (Castor canadensis), porcupine, muskrats, foxes, coyote, bobcats, and black bears. Many other marine species have been observed in the surrounding area and waters.

Each summer several trails in the park are closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.

Excavations of old Indian sites in the Mount Desert Island region have yielded remains of the native mammals. Bones of wolf, beaver, deer, elk, large fire in 1947 cleared the eastern half of the island of its coniferous trees and permitted the growth of aspen, birch, alder, maple and other deciduous trees which enabled the beaver to thrive.[18]

Species that used to inhabit the island include the mountain lion (or puma) and the gray wolf. It is thought that these predators have been forced to leave the area due to the dramatic decrease in small prey and proximity to human activity.


Despite its small size (Acadia National Park covers less than one percent of Maine's land area) the Park is known to harbor over 50 percent of the vascular plants occurring in Maine.[19] Plant, algae, and fungi specimens collected during research activities at Acadia National Park are deposited for future study at a herbarium jointly administered by the Park and College of the Atlantic.


See also


  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  3. ^ a b c "Park Statistics". National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  4. ^ "Stories (History & Culture)". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 10 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  5. ^ Commissioned by the National Park Service, a 2-volume report "Asticou's Island Domain: Wabanaki Peoples at Mount Desert Island 1500–2000" (2007) was authored by Harald E.L. Prins and Bunny McBride. This digital text detailing Acadia National Park’s cultural and natural history is freely accessible
  6. ^ Canadian-American Center Cartography Studio. "Champlain and the Settlement of Acadia 1604-1607". University of Maine. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "Acadia National Park: Mount Desert Island". / Demand Media. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  8. ^ "History of Acadia". AcadiaNet, Inc. November 1995. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  9. ^ Jane Brown (1995-03-01). Beatrix: the gardening life of Beatrix Jones Farrand, 1872-1959. Viking Press. p. 208.  
  10. ^ "Fire of 1947". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Debbie Harmsen (2008). Maine Coast. Random House. p. 248.  
  15. ^ "Somes Sound, Mount Desert Island". Maine Geological Survey. November 1998. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  16. ^ "The Story of Glaciers". EarthCache Program (National Park Service). Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  17. ^ Richard H. Manville (November 1941). "Notes on the Mammals of Mount Desert Island, Maine". Journal of Mammalogy 23 (4): 391–398.  
  18. ^ D. Muller-Schwarze, Susan Heckman (1980). "The Role of Scent Marking in Beaver". Journal of Chemical Ecology 6: 81–95.  
  19. ^ Harris, Tanner; Nishanta Rajakaruna; Sarah J. Nelson; Peter D. Vaux (2012). "Stressors and threats to the flora of Acadia National Park, Maine: Current knowledge, information gaps, and future directions". Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 139 (3): 323–344.  

External links

  • Acadia National Park (National Park Service official website)
    • Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine, an NPS Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan
  • - Daily time-lapse animations of a webcam in the park
  • - Live view of Mount Desert Island and Cadillac Mountain
  • - Virtual Tour of Acadia National Park
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