Mount Desert Island, ME, Guide and Information


Exploring Mt. Desert Island: Beyond Acadia National Park

While some mistakenly believe that Acadia National Park encompasses all of Mt. Desert Island, this renowned Maine island offers much more. Acadia, covering about half of the island, is just the beginning of the extraordinary beauty found across its 100-square-mile expanse throughout the year.

Established in 1919, Acadia National Park ranks second in popularity to Yellowstone National Park, a remarkable feat considering its remote location in the northeast United States.

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History Highlights of Mt. Desert Island

Huge piles of seashells found throughout the island indicate that Native Americans inhabited Mt. Desert Island throughout the ages. The first recorded reports of Maine Indians living here, however, date back to the early 1700s, about a hundred years after the first European explorers arrived in the area. Known as Wabanaki Indians, these peoples lived off the land and water by hunting, fishing, gathering shellfish, plants and berries. They summered on the coast and wintered inland where they could hit the salmon runs upstream and find shelter from Maine’s harsh winter storms.

French explorer Samuel de Champlain is believed to have been the first European to have contact with the natives. On September 6, 1604, he and his crew crossed what is today known as Frenchman Bay and sailed up to the island. Within less than ten years later, French Jesuits established the first French mission in America without incident with the natives. Conflict occurred later with an English raid, spurred on by the dispute of the boundary between the French colony of Acadia to the north and the English colony of New England to the south. After about 150 years of conflict, the British finally took Quebec, a triumphant victory which eventually led to the demise of French domination of Acadia. More divisions ensued–this time between the British and the Colonists–during the Revolutionary War until all landholdings were eventually sold off and Maine became its own state–separate from Massachusetts–in 1820.

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