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History

Park History: Acadia lays claim to the title of the first Eastern National Park. Founded in 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument. It became Lafayette National Park in 1919 and then, with the addition of the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park in 1929. George Dorr, a Bostonian, first visited Mount Desert Island with his parents at age 13. Entranced with the area, he made it his home as soon as he could. In 1901, he began the quest to set aside land on the Island to become a National Park. Through land donations and monetary donations used to purchase land, Dorr slowly acquired most of the island in a public trust. In 1916, the federal government accepted the donation of this trust and President Woodrow Wilson declared it a National Monument. Dorr became the first superintendent, continuing to acquire land and lobby for the Monument to become a Park. This mission was accomplished in 1929.

Carriage Roads: The forty-five miles of scenic carriage roads throughout Acadia were built between 1913 and 1940 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. He built the roads as a car-free, scenic means for himself and his neighbors to travel through and view beautiful Mount Desert Island. He began building even as plans were underway for much of the land to become a National Monument with the intent that the roads become a part of the preserved land. Rockefeller took his time about the creation of these horse roads. He cared more for the overall appearance and quality of the project than for its prompt completion.

The roads include 17 stone bridges, 16 of which were financed by Rockefeller. The bridges are steel reinforced concrete, finished with stone in order to have a rustic, 19th century appearance. Some of the bridges are the most visited and photographed sites in Acadia.

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Photo Credit: Acadia National Park Archives