Long before hiking trails and carriage roads crossed this landscape, the land provided for people. Working woodlands, farms and quarries were essential to life in and around what we now call Acadia National Park. Later, Acadia's now famous historic structures - carriage roads, gatehouses and bridges, the motor roads, and other buildings - were built by community members who contributed their hard earned skills and labor to the nation. In and around Acadia National Park you can not only still see the marks on the land of granite quarries and farms, but you can learn about the communities who continue these proud traditions of craftsmanship and skill to this day.
Wabanaki people have lived and continue to live off the land we now call Acadia National Park since time immemorial. In addition to the abundance and transportation provided by the sea, the land provided moose, bear, beaver and other precious resources for food and clothing. The ash tree, sacred to the Wabanaki people, grew in abundance in this area and, in addition to other plant gathering, remains an essential connection between Wabanaki people and the land. Throughout time, Wabanaki people have created and used objects such as porcupine quill bakets and birch bark canoes. Please visit the Abbe Museum for more information.
By 1820, farming and lumbering vied with fishing and shipbuilding as the major occupations. Settlers converted hundreds of acres of trees into wood products ranging from schooners and barns to baby cribs and hand tools. Farmers harvested wheat, rye, corn, and potatoes. Near present-day Somesville, English homesteaders Abraham and Hannah Somes and James and Rachel Richardson settled their families in 1761. In the 1800s, not far from this settlement, the Carroll Family built a home. Generations of the family lived at Carroll Homestead, where visitors can still visit and learn about early farm life in Maine today.
In addition to trees and soil, the earth provided residents of the area with a seemingly endless supply of granite. Very early settlements on the island required small quarrying operations for foundations, piers, and roads. There was also a huge demand for granite in big cities throughout the east coast, therefore much granite from here was actually shipped away.
Once Mount Desert Island became a hot spot for Gilded Era mansion building, the skills of granite quarriers and masons were devoted to cottage building, driveways, path construction. Many of those quarries were reopened in the early 1900s, the construction of the carriage roads and motor roads that built Acadia. Indeed, park founder George Dorr had his own quarrying business.
Last updated: November 1, 2023