History & Culture

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Historic photograph held up for comparison to landscape

Photo by Yehyun Kim, Friends of Acadia, NPS


Human History and Culture

Illustration of indigenous people on a shoreline

Wabanaki: People of the Dawnland

Native American peoples have inhabited the land we now call Maine for over 12,000 years. Acadia is located in the homeland of the Wabanaki.

Illustration of early settlers on a farm

Colonization & Early Settlement

Learn about European Colonization starting in the 1600s to the homesteading settlers on Mount Desert Island as early as 1760.

Historic photograph of a cogwheel train

Rusticators & Early Tourism

Art brought tourism and starting in the late 1800s, wealthy "rusticators" arrived by steamboats and yachts to Mount Desert Island.


Becoming Acadia National Park

Historic image of sandy beach and mountain

Founding Acadia

Philanthropists, conservationists, and landowners all played a part in the founding of Acadia.

Historic bridge with people riding horses

Building Acadia

Trail construction began long before the park's founding. Building infrastructure, motor roads, and carriage roads soon followed.



Two people riding horseback under stone bridge

Carriage Roads and Gatehouses

Learn the history behind Rockefeller's planning and construction of the famous carriage road system.

A fire tower with people standing on the platform

Fire Towers

Two lookouts were located on Beech Mountain and Sargent Mountain, and used for short periods of the park's history.

Wooden directional sign pointing in different directions

Historic Trails

Mount Desert Island’s present-day trail system evolved over centuries of human use and settlement of the land.

Historic photograph of a lighthouse on an island


Lighthouses play an important role in understanding the nautical history of Mount Desert Island and along Maine's coastline.

A bronze plaque on granite next to a lakeshore

Memorials & Monuments

The park today contains a wealth of memorials that give us information into its history, establishment, and management.

Historic photo of cars on a scenic road

Motor Roads

Acadia’s motor road system involved engineers, landscape architects, conservationists, local skilled laborers, the federal agencies.


Museum Collections & Archives

Historic photograph of a brick building with people grouped in front


Learn about the William Otis Sawtelle Collections and Research Center, dedicated to the founder of the Islesford Historical Museum.

audio files

Historic Audio Files and Interviews

Songs, stories, interviews and oral histories from Acadia's past.

Last updated: July 31, 2021

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor , ME 04609


207 288-3338

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