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Coast Walk 15 Still Life

Coast Walk 15: Seal Harbor Beach to Bracy Cove, October 20, 2016

 

From top to bottom, left to right:

Row 1: Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis), sea glass, Slipper Shell (Crepidula fornicata), beach stone.

Row 2: crab claw, Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea), brick, kelp frond covered in bryozoans, Dog Whelk (Nucella lapillus), Blue Mussel.

Row 3: Green Crab (Carcinus maenas), Dog Whelk, Common Periwinkles, granite beach stone.

Row 4: brick, Sea Cauliflower (Leathesia marina), Blue Mussel, Sea Cauliflower, striped beach stone.

Row 5: beach stone, mother of pearl interior of mussel shell, driftwood

Row 6: sea glass, striped beach stone, Green Crab, sandstone, Dog Whelk

Row 7: granite beach stone, Blue Mussel, beach stone, Jonah Crab (Cancer borealis)

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Coast Walk 14 Still Life

Coast Walk 14: Seal Harbor Beach, December 21, 2015

Left to right, top to bottom:

Row 1: Coke bottle sea glass, Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis), Sand Dollar (Echinarachnius parma), paper scrap, lobster claw band, aluminum can base

Row 2: Sand dollar, pet ID tag, feather, sea glass, sand dollar

Row 3: sea glass, china fragment, Smooth Periwinkle (Littorina obtusata), sea glass, lobster claw band, Sand Dollar, sea glass

Row 4: lobster trap rope, Sand Dollar, sea glass, Blue Mussel

Coast Walk 16: Bracy Cove

Dec. 6, 2016: 8:50-10am. 28ºF (-2ºC), sunny with scattered cumulus clouds and a sharp wind off Little Long Pond. Flock of 17 Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola), 6 much larger ducks (probably Black Ducks, Anas rubripes, since they had yellow bills),  2 crows, 2 Herring Gulls.

It was pretty cold out, and the wind off the pond elevated that to Damn Cold Out. The first real snow of the season had fallen overnight, just a dusting, but enough to pretty up the landscape.

One of the cool things about winter is how clearly you can see the high tide line. The ocean practically draws a topographic map in the snow:

A couple of things have been puzzling me more and more as I travel: cobble beaches and natural seawalls. I thought that as I looked more closely at the island I’d understand better why certain things formed where they did, and for some things that’s true. I now understand, for example, why there is sand at Seal Harbor Beach and not at Hunters Beach. I’m still struggling with cobble beaches and seawalls, though. I can’t find any “reason” why they form where they do.

I’ve been combing through the newest book on MDI geology, Duane and Ruth Braun’s Guide to the Geology of Mount Desert Island, which is awesome and has answered a lot of my other questions (e.g. sand at Seal Harbor), but haven’t found anything. Maybe something to do with wind direction? I mean, why is there a cobble seawall here in Bracy Cove, and not at the Seal Harbor Beach? The shorelines look pretty similar. The bedrock looks the same. They’re maybe half a mile apart. And yet the stones at Seal Harbor are more angular, and the sand dominates over there. There’s a little sand in Bracy Cove, too, but here the stones are rounded, and they are piled 8 or 10′ high. Anyway.

Let’s walk!

 

A small flock of Buffleheads was hanging out in the cove, and I watched them for a long time. My attempts at note-taking and observation were frequently interrupted by snorts of laughter.  They would bob their heads up and down rapidly four times, dunk their heads under water, and then rear up flapping their wings like this:
No idea what that was all about, but it was very funny to watch. When I started researching them to figure out what they were doing, I discovered that they nest in old woodpecker holes. If I ever am lucky enough to see a duck emerge from a hole halfway up a tree I am going to fall over laughing. There’s just something so terminally awkward about ducks. I mean, very little is funnier than watching a duck get a running start for flight – it just looks so implausible, and they always seem to be on the edge of tripping over their own feet:

Also hilarious (or maybe I’m just easily amused), seaweed hairstyles:

Another cool winter phenomenon – frost that melts off seaweed as soon as the sun touches it, so the remaining frost traces the edges of shadows:

The stream running out of the pond was moving surprisingly fast and deep. I suppose I could have gone back to the road to cross it, but I was feeling lazy and since I wasn’t planning a long walk I just waded through. It went right over the tops of my boots – brrr!!

Then I got distracted watching this situation develop:

That’s a (doomed) crab they’re playing tug-of-war with. The herring gull won. But the battle gave me a chance to compare crow and gull footprints (crow on left, gull on right):

 

Ok, how about some history?

“Harvesting Fresh Water Marsh Hay at Little Long Pond, Seal Harbor.” Image courtesy of  Raymond Strout via the MDI Historical Society (003.17.1, Archival Box 58)

Other than the Clement houses near the Seal Harbor beach, most of the early settlement was around Little Long Pond and Bracy Cove. (I’m talking European settlement here: I haven’t been able to find any references to Wabanaki camps in the area, although there is speculation that it may have been part of a canoe portage route. See the bibliography for more info on that.)

Until the 1860s the town was known as Long Pond. There were a store, the blacksmith’s house, and a school. The Bracy, Smallidge, and Dodge houses were on Dodge Point (now Crowninshield Point), and 2 Clement houses were near the Seal Harbor beach (we met the Clements in CW 14). [Revisiting Seal Harbor] Although the map below dates from 1887, many of those landmarks are visible on it (and I put red arrows next to a few.)

Hand-drawn “Map of Mount Desert Island,” Colby & Stuart, 1887.  Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives

The post office moved from Long Pond to Seal Harbor in 1886 (and as you can see, was still called the Long Pond Post Office) “with Charles Henry Clement, the postmaster, at first conducting business from his own house. By 1903 it was settled at the location it still holds. With some intervals, Clements were in charge of this postoffice [sic] until as late as 1935.” [Heckscher, p.5]

“Jordan Homestead, road to NEH at Bracy’s Cove.” Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. (The Jordan house is visible on the 1887 map above.)

The schoolhouse was constructed on a road that now forms part of a private driveway – it was called Knowledge Hill. [Heckscher] “In the fall of 1931, the Seal Harbor schoolhouse was moved to … Lower Dunbar Road in Seal Harbor. Named St. Jude’s Chapel Guild House, [it] was used as a winter church and fellowship space. … The Guild House was … secularized and sold in 2001. ” [from St Mary’s-by-the-Sea website]

“Old house and fish house, Bracy’s Cove.” Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. (No.132 on website)

By 1882, when Cox’s general store opened in Seal Harbor, the business center had moved from Long Pond to the harbor area. [Revisiting Seal Harbor]

“Old Callahan House, Long Pond.” Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. (Marked on the 1887 map with a red arrow.) The house was torn down when the Rockefellers bought the property.

As near as I could get to the same view today:

You can just barely make out the boathouse near the center of the photo.

“Long Pond and farm, from Barr Hill.” Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. (Another view of the Callahan house.)

“Golf links, Meenaga Ledge, from Bracy’s Cove.” Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. I think the house and fish house are the same ones in the photo farther back in this post.

The road seems to have been in a similar spot, although the outlet from the pond has changed a lot:

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from The Geology of the Island of Mount Desert by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, 1889, as reproduced in Tom Weddle, The Landscape of Mount Desert Island Past and Present, Maine Geological Survey, November 2011. Shaler’s book was the first published detailed study of the island’s geology.

A couple points of interest in this view east along the beach: there’s a car at the bottom left that gives scale to the size of the seawall, and the Rockefeller estate, known as the Eyrie, dominates the top of Barr Hill. Also note that the telephone or electric poles are set right into the seawall.

“Sea wall thrown up in Bracy Cove,” photo courtesy of Acadia National Park Archives, Box 44 ACAD29539

The seawall appears to be about the same height as the present one, although you can see how modern maintenance standards have pushed the stones away from the road so the landward slope is much steeper.

Not a black-and-white photo, just taken in a snowstorm.

Since we’re going to talk about remnants of the Rockefeller estate around Long Pond, let’s take a quick look at the Eyrie:

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor.

The original house was built in 1898; the Rockefellers bought it in 1910 and expanded it in 1915. It was torn down in 1963 after John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s death. With 99 rooms, the property taxes must have been insane. All that’s left of the house is a broad brick terrace and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden. Beatrix Farrand designed the garden with Mrs. Rockefeller, and I understand that she also worked on the landscape around the pond, although I haven’t yet found specifics about her design for the area. You might also enjoy reading an interview with David Rockefeller, Sr. (who was six months old when the Eyrie was expanded) in the 2011 Chebacco that includes his memories of summers in Seal Harbor.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor.

The architect for the expansion was Duncan Candler. His sister, Edith, married George Stebbins, who, you may remember, was George Cooksey’s business partner and took over management of their real estate development firm after Cooksey became ill. Through Stebbins, Candler began designing cottages on Ox Hill – his remaining work in Seal Harbor includes Skylands, East Point, and the boathouse at Little Long Pond.

Photo courtesy of the Jesup Memorial Library. (JML PC 24010)

[Interesting digression – several sources described Candler as having married “Edith Stebbins,” while others referred to her as his sister. While I can’t find any biographies of Duncan Candler or Edith Stebbins, it appears Edith and George’s son, George Ledyard Stebbins, became a biologist and geneticist of enough importance to rate his own Wikipedia page, which lists “George Ledyard Stebbins, a wealthy real estate financier who developed Seal Harbor, Maine … and Edith Alden Candler Stebbins” as his parents, so I’m going with sister, not wife. I find it mind-boggling that Candler doesn’t have a Wikipedia page of his own, but that’s fame in the new millennium for you. Also a good argument for using multiple sources.]

Image courtesy of the MDI Historical Society. (002-47-50-2476)

Last summer, David Rockefeller, Sr. gave the Long Pond area to the Land and Garden Trust of Mount Desert Island, ensuring that it will remain open to the public. As a member of the public, “Thank you!”

January 6, 2017: 25ºF (-4ºC), snowing hard.

I went back to get a better look at the boathouse. It snowed.

Last time I walked up this way, I had my infant son in a backpack (he’s a college freshman now).

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WORKS CITED

Braun, Duane and Braun, Ruth. Guide to the Geology of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. North Atlantic Books, 2016.

Heckscher, August. The Harbor Club, A History. J.S.McCarthy Co., 1995.

Miller, Kathleen and Rockerfeller, David, Sr. “An Afternoon with David Rockefeller,” Chebacco, Volume XII, 2011. (available as a pdf at the link)

Prins, Harald and McBride, Bunny. Asticou’s Island Domain: Wabanaki Peoples at Mount Desert Island, 1500-2000, vol.2. Boston, Northeast Region Ethnography Program, National Park Service, 2007. (available as a pdf at the link) There is a discussion on p.574 of possible portage routes from Duck Brook to Bracy Cove (judged unlikely) and from Hulls Cove to either Bracy Cove or Seal Harbor (judged very possible.)

Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate. The Geology of the Island of Mount Desert. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1889.

Vandenbergh, Lydia and Shettleworth, Jr., Earle. Revisiting Seal Harbor and Acadia National Park. Arcadia Publishing, 1997.

Weddle, Tom. The Landscape of Mount Desert Island Past and Present. Maine Geological Survey, November 2011. (available as a pdf at the link)

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Bonus post: The Christmas Walk

 

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1976: Wendy Booher, Megan Smith, Heather Smith, Brian Booher

According to my mother-in-law, it started like this:

Way back in December 1972, when she and her husband were new arrivals in Bar Harbor with two young children, they walked into the old Acadian Sandwich Shop one evening. Chad and Marion Smith, who also had two young children, were the only other customers there. Megan, the youngest Smith, was in an infant seat on the table, and Wendy and Heather forged a friendship rampaging around the empty restaurant. Mary doesn’t remember what Brian was doing, but knowing him I’m sure if he wasn’t actively rampaging he was instigating it.

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1981: Bob Chaplin, Heather Smith, Anna Ryan, Chad Smith, Marion Smith, Megan Smith, Dean Booher, Wendy Booher, Hilda Roderick, Tom Roderick

Either way, the families became friends, and in 1974 they all agreed that with four little kids hyped on Christmas cookies and presents, it would be crucial to get out of the house on Christmas Day. More or less in self-defense, they planned a group walk on the Shore Path.

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1987:  Back row: Bob Chaplin, Dean Booher, Brian Booher, Connie Blaney, Michael Blaney, Wendy Booher, Dennis Weber.  Middle row: Cathy Dorrity, Jeannie Higgins in blue hat, Heather Smith, ? on crutches, Michelle Blaney, Danielle Blaney in pink scarf, Deb Weber in yellow coat, Megan Weber, Kara Blaney in white hat.  Front rows: Marion Smith in white hat, ? in grey vest, Anna Ryan, Deborah Page, Megan Smith, Brian Weber sticking tongue out, Chad Smith, David Blaney.

The tactic worked (at least for the grownups) and the Christmas Walk was born. For the next forty-odd years, at noon on Christmas Day, the Boohers, Smiths, and a growing group of family and friends bundled up and walked the Shore Path. I think my first year was 1989, when I started dating Brian. The Boohers are hardier folk than my own people (we Steens tend to curl up with a good book when left to ourselves), and the Christmas Walk happens whatever the weather. We’ve trekked trough deep snow, no snow, sheer ice, no ice, stiff winds, no wind, bitter cold, pouring rain, freezing rain, and snowstorms. Now and then there’s even sunshine! Sometime before I joined the group had started bringing hot chocolate and cookies for a picnic at the walk’s midpoint (usually the Bar Harbor Inn.) This picnic also happens regardless of weather.

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1998: 32 people, not even gonna try

In 1998, Brian and I brought along the Christmas Walk’s second generation – that’s me holding 7-month-old Christopher in the front row. The people at the ends of the rows are holding their arms out to include absent friends.

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2000: I count 43 people, including multiple infants – Tabitha, almost 2 months old, is zipped up inside my coat at far left, which is why I look like a whale.

This year it was 33ºF (0ºC) with a stiff wind from the east and a wind chill of 22ºF (-5ºC).  It was the smallest group we’ve had since 1976! As the kids grew up, went to college, got jobs, married, and started their own families they moved all around the country, and Brian is the only one who has moved back to town. The other three are scattered from Utah to Madrid, and only occasionally make it back for Christmas. As the second generation grows up, we’ll see where they settle, but since the oldest is only 18, the third generation is still (ahem, had better be) a ways off.

2016: Me, Anna Ryan, Carol Woolman, Dean Booher, Brian Booher, Bob Chaplin, Mary Booher, and Tabitha Booher.

Anyway, consider yourself invited for 2017: remember, it’s noon on Christmas Day – bundle up – bring cookies – send me a message and I’ll tell you where we’re meeting!

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Coast Walk 15: Seal Harbor to Bracy Cove

Seal Harbor Beach, Maine, sunrise

October 20, 2016: 6:30am-12pm. Started just about sunrise, 46ºF (8ºC), slight breeze from shore, a few clouds. Warmed up a bit as the sun rose and turned into a gorgeous autumn day. Black Backed Gull, 4 Loon, 5 Great Cormorants (they might have been Double-Crested Cormorants) 2 crows, and an unidentified dead fish.

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Please note that the whole Point is private property. And many, many thanks to Sue Ferrante-Collier and to Steve Pinkham for their assistance in contacting people for permission to cross these properties!

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Walker: Kenn Chandler, builder. I met Kenn through the MDI Photo Club, where he is the outings coordinator. He was one of the first people outside of my family to discover the Coast Walk, and when you’ve just started an insanely complex and time-consuming project, having a stranger come up to you and say, “Are you the one doing the Coast Walk? I love it!” makes you feel like a rock star. Kenn has a very special place in my heart!

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We met at the Seal Harbor beach just as the sun was rising, and headed out toward the western point. The tiny island in the center of the photo above is called Little Thrumbcap, and I’ve wanted to explore it ever since I first saw it. (‘What’s a Thrumcap?‘)

web-_dsc6582-editKenn moved to the island in 1971: “My Grandma, Winifred Dole Mann, had a summer place in Southwest Harbor.  My family always came up for visits in the summer and loved it.  Her driving skills had deteriorated pretty badly and she was pleaded with to stop driving.  When she was 90 she threw her drivers license in the fire on Christmas of 1971  and whined that she was giving up her freedom.  She wanted someone to help her in her retirement to Maine.  Both my sister Janet and I volunteered and it wasn’t long before my love affair with Maine and the island were established.”

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“When we came to Southwest Harbor to visit my Grandma, we were on vacation for the most part.  We used to fish a lot in Norwood Cove from the old wooden punt, sometimes to eat and sometimes for fun.  A couple times my sister and I were instructed to catch enough flounder for the family for dinner.  It was easy fishing.  We would pick a few mussels and put them on hooks with sinkers, let them down to the bottom (4-6 ft deep) and reel them in as fast as we could.  Everyone was quite pleased.  That is, until I read your Coast Walk 3 about the overboard discharge.  It makes sense though, bottom feeders, but who wants to look a gift horse (or fish) in the mouth?”

 

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Kenn and I had a conflict of opinion on the Point’s name – I had always called it Dodge Point (because of Dodge Point Road) but he knows it as Crowninshield Point. I poked around and found that the Dodges had a house there in the 1860s, and Commander Crowninshield built a house out at the very tip in 1885.

George N. Colby, 1887

George N. Colby, 1887

Maps show both names, but as you can see on the map at the beginning of this post, Google calls it Crowninshield, so I guess Kenn won that round.

Edward L. Rand, 1893

Edward L. Rand, 1893

Bates, 1917

Waldron Bates, 1917

We couldn’t see it from the shore, but I knew we were passing pretty close to St Jude’s Episcopal church. Built in 1887, it was the first church in Seal Harbor. It’s part of the Parish of St. Mary and St. Jude, which is based in Northeast Harbor, and still holds services in July and August.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor.

St. Jude’s.  Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor.

Another landmark that’s just out of sight from the shore is the congregational church, which was built in 1902.

Bechtle, Isabel K., A Church for Seal Harbor, Northeast Reprographics, Bangor, ME, 2002

photo from Bechtel, A Church for Seal Harbor

Putting together what I’ve read in the history of both churches (see Works Cited), it sounds like up to that point, Seal Harbor was geographically isolated from the other towns on MDI and more closely related to the Cranberry Islands (it’s a straight shot across the water to Islesford.) While Northeast Harbor residents could row across the Sound to Southwest for Sunday services, Seal Harbor people don’t seem to have gone to church regularly. In 1887, when St. Jude’s was built, 100 out of 118 residents were unbaptized. (Hansen, p.24) The increasing summer population seems to have reached a tipping point in the 1880s, and a church became a necessary amenity.

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

(Undated photo of Crowninshield Point.) Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

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Our progress was very slow at first, not just because of the thick seaweed but because we are both photographers and walking into the rising sun made for some glorious back light:_dsc6638-web

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We ran across a stash of the scat that’s been puzzling me – I think it’s either otter or raccoon – this time with lots of berries in it as well as crab shells. (I have other photos with more crab shells but this post is already wicked long!)

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We watched a Great Blue Heron catch a crab:

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and tear it apart:

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We also spotted several sand dollars trying to dig themselves into the sand:

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In spite of all the distractions, we eventually reached the tip of the point, and Thrumbcap Island:

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The geology out on the point was remarkable – we were clearly back in the Shatter Zone:

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As we worked our way around the outer edge of the point, we crossed a beautiful little cobble beach:

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And then we finally rounded the point and looked into Bracy Cove:

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There’s enough history here that Bracy Cove is going to get its own post – there’s no trace of it now, but this was a town before Seal Harbor was! Tune in next time for that post…

Meanwhile, more cool geology:

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Halfway along the point, we reached the Harbor Club:

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

The Harbor Club. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

The main building was designed by Duncan Candler, who also did Skylands and the boathouse on Little Long Pond.

Seal Harbor Club ca. 1926. Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor.

The Harbor Club in 1927. Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor.

The club opened in 1926 with a swimming pool (which soon became a heated pool) and tennis courts. Rental cottages were added in 1956 (tenants had to be approved by the club board).

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

There’s a surprisingly awesome book about the club at the Seal Harbor Library – much more readable and entertaining than the church histories! I kind of wanted to quote long passages from it here but I’ll have to give you just a small taste:

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

Image from Heckscher, The Harbor Club, 1995.

Lately I seem to be digressing more than usual in my research, or maybe I’m just sharing more of those digressions with you. Here’s a classic: while writing the bibliography for this post I accidentally googled the name of the Harbor Club history’s author, August Heckscher, and discovered that he was a journalist, arts administrator, sailor, and remarkably, a master printmaker whose atelier, The Printing Office at High Loft (run from his summer home in Seal Harbor) produced enough artist books to have its own archive at the New York Public Library.  You can read more about him in this Chebacco article.

from Carl Little, "August Hecksher, A Man About the World - and Mount Desert Island,"

from Carl Little, “August Hecksher, A Man About the World – and Mount Desert Island,”

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A vivid patch of red maple, sumac, and wild roses gave us a last flurry of fall color photos:

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And six hours after we started, we were shuffling wearily up the stones of Bracy Cove to our car.

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Kenn: “I distinctly remember pulling on to the seawall at Bracy Cove and parking to watch the waves and listen to the popples roll around in storms.  I first did this with my Grandma in her 1968 Ford Custom so that would have been in the early to mid 70’s.  I also remember cruising by in my GMC pickup and seeing over the top of the seawall all the way along.  We had a huge winter storm sometime around 1980 that covered the road in stones and left a seawall maybe 8 feet high all across the beach.  The state came out with snowplows to push the rocks off the road.  There was no parking anywhere on the water side of the road there for many years after that.”

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WORKS CITED

Bechtle, Isabel K., A Church for Seal Harbor, Northeast Reprographics, Bangor, ME, 2002.

Colby & Stuart, hand-drawn “Map of Mount Desert Island,” 1887.  Original in the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

Hansen, Gunnar, Not a Common House: A History of St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea, privately printed, 1981. (pdf available for download at the link)

Heckscher, August, The Harbor Club, A History, Augusta, ME, J.S.McCarthy Co., 1995.

Little, Carl, “August Heckscher, A Man About the World – and Mount Desert Island,” Chebacco: The Magazine of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society,
Vol. VIII, 2006-2007. (pdf available for download at link)

Stebbins, George, “Random notes on the early history and development as a summer resort of Mount Desert Island and particularly Seal Harbor,”(typescript of a speech), August 1938. [MSS in Northeast Harbor Library Archives.]

Vandenbergh, Lydia and Shettleworth, Jr., Earle, Revisiting Seal Harbor and Acadia National Park, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 1997.

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Great news! 2017 Kindling Fund Grants Awarded

You guys, I got a grant! Woohoo, wireless microphones at last! No more interviews lost to waves and wind noise! Exclamation points for all!

Many, many thanks to SPACE Gallery, the administrators of the fund. You can learn more about the Kindling Fund and the other 2017 grant recipients here: http://kindlingfund.org/announcing-2017-kindling-fund-grantees/

There will, of course, be a party (aka an awards reception) on Tuesday, January 10, from 5:30-7:30pm at SPACE Gallery in Portland, Maine. I can’t wait to meet the other artists. Everybody come!

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UPDATE: Dec. 21

The party date has changed to January 24.

Addenda: Completely irrelevant 19th-century newspaper stories

You guys know I do a lot of research for this project, right? I stumble across an overwhelming number of fascinating articles and photos that have nothing to do with the coast of MDI, and usually I just put them to one side and try to stay on topic, which right now would be the stretch between Seal Harbor and Bracy Cove. I’m working on it, really I am: I spent some quality time with the archives of the Northeast Harbor Library, and found all kinds of relevant stuff. I just could not resist sharing these gems from the newspaper archives with you.

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Sept.2, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Sept.2, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, July 21, 1897. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, July 21, 1897. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

 

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Maine, Friday, August 26, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Maine, Friday, August 26, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

 

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, August 25, 1898. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, August 25, 1898. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

 

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Maine, Friday, August 26, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Maine, Friday, August 26, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

 

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, June 16, 1897. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, June 16, 1897. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

 

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, July 21, 1897. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, July 21, 1897. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

 

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Sept.2, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

The Island Herald, Northeast Harbor, Sept.2, 1904. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

And this one sent Hannah Stevens (the library’s archivist) and myself off on a hunt to find the lost island town of Center:

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, August 25, 1898. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

The Island Breeze, Southwest Harbor, August 25, 1898. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library Archives.

Which we eventually found on an enormous, hand-drawn map dated 1887:

Hand-drawn "Map of Mount Desert Island," Colby & Stuart, 1887. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

Hand-drawn “Map of Mount Desert Island,” Colby & Stuart, 1887. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

Center even had its own post office! Clearly I’ll be investigating this when I reach the Seal Cove area.

Hand-drawn "Map of Mount Desert Island," Colby & Stuart, 1887. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

Hand-drawn “Map of Mount Desert Island,” Colby & Stuart, 1887. Image courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

This map, by the way, is about 6′ tall and filled with this kind of insane detail for the entire island. I spent a long time staring at it, and you’ll be seeing details of it in pretty much every post for the rest of my life this project.

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Update and Addenda, November 6, 2016

Seal Harbor Beach, Maine, sunrise

On October 20, Kenn Chandler and I hiked around Crowninshield and Dodge Point from Seal Harbor Beach to Bracy Cove. There’s a lot of history in that area, so it’s taking me a long time to write up, plus I keeping finding all kinds of interesting things about areas I’ve already written about, so this is just a short update post to let you know things are still moving behind the scenes. It took about 4 months to gather permissions to hike this section, and I am so grateful to the people who helped – special thanks to Sue Ferrante-Collier and Steve Pinkham! Stay tuned for that post, and to tide you over, here are a few cool finds for Schooner Head:

Addenda for Coast Walk 7: Schooner Head

from "Opulence to Ashes: Bar Harbor's Gilded Century" by Lydia Vandenbergh

The Lynam farm. Photo from “Opulence to Ashes: Bar Harbor’s Gilded Century” by Lydia Vandenbergh

The first European settlers on Schooner Head were William Lynam and Hannah Tracy. Married in Gouldsboro, they moved to MDI in 1831 and started a hundred-acre farm on Schooner Head. [As a side note, can I say how much it irritates me when history books say that male settlers came to the island and brought their wives with them? I don’t think any pioneer farm survived unless it was a joint enterprise, so can we please just start saying ‘they’ instead of ‘he?’]  There were few inns on the island until later in the 19th century, and the earliest tourists often boarded with local families, including the Lynams. Several of the early artists who visited (including Frederic Church, I think) stayed here.

from "Opulence to Ashes: Bar Harbor's Gilded Century" by Lydia Vandenbergh

Outbuildings of the Lynam farm, with a fish oil press in the foreground. Photo from “Opulence to Ashes: Bar Harbor’s Gilded Century” by Lydia Vandenbergh.

from "Opulence to Ashes: Bar Harbor's Gilded Century" by Lydia Vandenbergh

Sawmill on the Lynam farm. Photo from “Opulence to Ashes: Bar Harbor’s Gilded Century” by Lydia Vandenbergh

'Schooner Head and Lynam Farm,' Frederic E. Church, 1850-51. From "The Artist's Mount Desert" by John Wilmerding

‘Schooner Head and Lynam Farm,’ Frederic E. Church, 1850-51. From “The Artist’s Mount Desert” by John Wilmerding

Charles Tracy, a New York lawyer and one of the earliest tourists to MDI, kept a diary of his visit here in 1855. Here are his descriptions of Schooner Head and the Lynam family:

from "The Tracy Log Book 1855" edited by Anne Mazlish

from “The Tracy Log Book 1855” edited by Anne Mazlish

from "The Tracy Log Book 1855" edited by Anne Mazlish

from “The Tracy Log Book 1855” edited by Anne Mazlish

You may already know some of this, but a whole web of connections spreads out from that 1855 visit. Charles Tracy’s daughter Fanny, who traveled with him, later married J.P.Morgan. She brought him to Mount Desert Island for their honeymoon, they built a house here, and most of the senior members of his firm (the ‘Morgan Men’) started summering here and building houses. The Morgans bought Great Head for their daughter, Louisa Satterlee (see Coast Walk 8) – her children donated it to the National Park.  Alessandro Fabbri, whose WWI transatlantic radio station we talked about in Otter Creek, was the son of one of those Morgan Men. So the web goes from brown bread at the Lynam farmhouse to Gilded Age cottages along West Street to submarines in Otter Cove. Crazy, isn’t it, what one tourist started?

 

Works Cited

Mazlish, Anne, ed., The Tracy Log Book 1855: A Month in Summer, Acadia Publishing Co., 1997.

Vandenbergh, Lydia, Opulence to Ashes: Bar Harbor’s Gilded Century, Downeast Books, 2009.

Wilmerding, John, The Artist’s Mount Desert, Princeton University Press, 1995.

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Coast Walk 14: Seal Harbor Town Dock to Seal Harbor Beach

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CW 14 copy

December 21, 12-2pm. 49 degrees, blustery and overcast with patches of sun. Sun glowing grey behind clouds, ice seeping out of some ledges.

 

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Walkers: Brenda Beckett, PA-C, MDI Hospital, & Captain, Acadia Photo Safari; Howie Motenko, Software Engineer, Jackson Laboratory, & photography expedition leader, Acadia Photo Safari. Howie is also working on a long-term photography project called Painting Islands. Brenda first joined the Coast Walk in February 2105.

Image from "Northeast and Seal Harbors, Mount Desert, Maine" souvenir photo booklet, courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

Seaside Hotel at left and Glencove hotel at right. Image from “Northeast and Seal Harbors, Mount Desert, Maine” souvenir photo booklet, courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library.

The last Coast Walk ended at the Seal Harbor Town Dock, and since then I’ve done a ton of research on the area. If you haven’t seen it yet, I just published an ‘Addenda’ page with everything I learned about the eastern part of the harbor that I wish I’d found before the walk from Hunters Beach. Let’s start today’s walk with a a quick primer on Seal Harbor history (mostly from Revisiting Seal Harbor, bibliography at bottom of post) before we start on the Coast Walk proper:

• The first European settler was John Clement of Bucksport. Clement was a cooper and built a workshop on the beach in 1809 and a house on Ox Hill. The house burned in 1817, and the Clements rebuilt close to the beach.

•First ‘town’ area was at Bracy Cove in the 1860s. More about that when we get to Bracy Cove.

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‘Seaside House,’ the Clement family boarding house. Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor

• In 1875 the Clement family quit coopering and fishing and remodeled their home as a boarding house for 10 boarders, calling it ‘Seaside House.’ They promoted Seal Harbor as less fashionable, slower paced and more rustic than Bar Harbor, and it gained a reputation as an intellectual resort. Scientists, artists, musicians, and writers gathered in the public rooms. The Clements were very successful, enlarged the inn several times, and eventually built a much larger, fancier place called the ‘Seaside Inn’ to distinguish it from the ‘Seaside House.’ You can see both here:

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

The Seaside Inn is at left, and the Seaside House is at right. No idea who the house in the middle belonged to. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

•In 1884 Captain Edwin Lynam and Robert Campbell opened the Glencove Hotel at the other end of the beach. This one was apparently even more appealing to the intelligentsia, and “the scholarly atmosphere was said to be such that bellboys often conversed with guests in Latin. ” (May, Johns Hopkins Magazine, 1995) On a side note, the article quoted is an essay on Thomas Eakins’ visit to Seal Harbor while painting a portrait of Dr. Henry Rowland, and has some great anecdotes about life in Seal Harbor in 1897. The full text is online – check it out.

Image from "Northeast and Seal Harbors, Mount Desert, Maine" souvenir photo booklet, courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

Image from “Northeast and Seal Harbors, Mount Desert, Maine” souvenir photo booklet, courtesy of the Northeast Harbor Library

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Detail of George N. Colby map, 1887, showing the location of the hotels and stores.

 

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The town dock as it is now. I took this photo in August because I hadn’t gotten a good one on the December walk. I’m sorry about all the time-jumping. Pretend we’re in a TARDIS, ok?

Which brings us at last to the town dock, which was built in 1882 as a landing for the Eastern Steamship Company, which provided weekly service from Rockland on the Mount Desert.

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I believe this is the ‘Mount Desert,’ which was a side-paddle steamer. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

In 1893, a group of businessmen, including George Cooksey, built the Golden Rod to run daily circuits between the Mount Desert Island resorts, and in 1903 the steamer J.T.Morse was brought into service and ran until 1933, when autos became the main form of transport to the island.

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The J.T. Morse at the Seal Harbor dock sometime before 1920. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Unloading trunks and baggage circa 1905. Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

The Eastern Steamship wharf circa 1920. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

After the steamship era passed, the wharf became the Acadia Pier in the mid-1930s. It sounds something like the current Islesford Dock – a seafood restaurant and boating destination. The Acadia Pier was popular until WWII gas rationing killed a lot of tourism. It was dismantled in 1945, bought by the town at some point and rebuilt as the town dock.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

OK, I’m exhausted and we haven’t even started the walk yet – let’s go!

Brenda, Howie and I met on a raw, blustery, overcast afternoon at that incredibly historic town dock, slid and scrambled over the wall and picked our way down the slope. The shore was covered with a thick mat of rockweed, so walking required enormous concentration and it was difficult to stay close enough to each other for my phone to pick up our conversation. The howling wind drowned out most of what the phone did catch, so I only have a few bits to share with you.

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J: Looks like there’s been a lot of lobster feasting over here.

B: Why would somebody throw their cooked lobsters [on the shore]? … There’s a dumpster up there in the summer, and I bet some of the trash gets blown over here.

J: Or seagulls [carry it].

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The horse trough was installed to celebrated Seal Harbor’s centennial in 1909. The seal head spigot was added the following year. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

I mentioned that I was looking for old photos of the harbor area, and it turns out that Howie had been helping scan and clean up old negatives for the library.

B: Yeah, Lance [Funderberk] gave him some old photos of Seal Harbor, historic photos. … It’s the public library, that’s who has the collection, and Howie was helping.

H: He gave me the digital negatives to try to improve them.

J: Sure. Is it the Northeast Harbor library that has them?

H: No

B: The Seal Harbor

J: Oh! Oh my gosh, I always forget there’s a library here!

B: Yeah, they have a whole collection. And it’s a really cool picture with these rocks … and don’t you see the yacht club also?

H: That might be a different picture.

Well, that short conversation led me into a whole maze of connections! First, I found the photos on the library website, but the website has very little information about where the photos came from, who took them, and who the people in them might be. Phone calls to the library weren’t helpful – the people I spoke to told me to talk to Lance Funderberk. So finally I emailed Lance, and we will get together sometime next month to chat about that. I also found out that Lance and his wife Anne are a great source of stories and history from Seal Harbor, so I’m really looking forward to talking with them!

The next step was to make up for having forgotten the Seal Harbor Library’s existence by visiting, and on August 16, I finally made it there.

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The library was built in 1899 for $1000, on land donated by George Cooksey (him again) and Charles Clement, and was designed by William Partridge of New York.

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Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

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Other than a small addition on the west side, it seems to be much the same.

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The harbor is a lot busier in August than it was in December.

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I could only get the whole library in by using a panorama photo, hence the distortion.

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I spent a couple of happy hours in this room looking through books stamped “do not circulate,” and took several others home with me. I wish I could say that my high-school self would have been amazed at the amount of research I do now, but truth is I’ve always been a total geek. It’s hard to say which I enjoy more; climbing up granite ledges in the dead of winter, or unearthing the perfect photo in the bottom of a box in the archives.

Anyway, back to December’s Walk:

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We squeezed past the foundations of the Yacht Club, which was built in 1912. The stone pilings are held in place on the bedrock ledges with steel pins:

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Oops, time for more historic photos.

SH Lib Web 576YachtClub

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

SH Lib Web 577YachtClubPorch

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

My son taught sailing at the yacht club this past summer, and I drove him to work most mornings, so I got very familiar with this view:

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And I was also able to photograph the rockweed-covered boulders we slid over at low tide back in December at high tide in August:

Strands of rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) float at high tide in

It’s a forest, isn’t it?

And back to December again:

Knowing that Brenda collects heart-shaped rocks, I pointed this one out to her:

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J: Heart-shaped?

B: … Half a heart.

J: Half-hearted.

30 crows

J: Wow, look at all the crows. Holy cow! I have NEVER seen so many. [Ed.note: I counted 56 crows in one of my photos.] Last week I saw a raven and two eagles down here.

B: There was an eagle’s nest at the point.

J: Must have been the same ones.

B: Sometimes we’d be getting ready to go on the Photo Safari and I’d see them. One time Howie was up on the dock and I was down in the boat, so I just texted him, ‘Eagle soaring overhead.’ So he was meeting a guy and he was like, ‘oh look up, take pictures!’

J: Oh that’s awesome. Happy customers, right?

We spotted puddles of old tar in the cracks of the ledge:

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And noted the appearance of patches of sand among the boulders:

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J: … Look how much more sand there is. It’s small rocks over sand. And it changes right at that dock.

B: We walked all the way out there one time when it was I think a full moon low tide, and it was sandy pretty much all the way.

J: So sand all the way out to the town dock?

B: Yeah. Because you can see there’s sand right out there.

J: Oh yeah.

B: I mean there were a few areas where we had to walk around a couple rocks.

J: Well the tide’s still on its way out.

And it’s time to go off on our next tangent, which is called ‘Why is there sand on the Seal Harbor Beach?’

Answer: Glaciers.

Photo from Braun, Geology of Mount Desert Island, 2016.

Photo from Braun, Geology of Mount Desert Island, 2016.

First off, the southern end of Jordan Pond is a glacial moraine. That’s an area where the front edge of the glacier paused for a while and dropped debris in a concentrated area. A moraine often acts as a dam for a pond, but at Jordan Pond the meltwater flowing under the glacier “cut a channel through the moraines and deposited a delta in the ocean.” (The Geology of Mt. Desert Island, 2016, p. 62.) Not the current ocean, because the land is about 200 feet higher now than it was at the time of the glacier – this ancient delta is farther north, closer to the pond. Below the sea-level elevation at the time of the glaciers (220 feet), the land was covered with marine mud. Sea level started dropping as the glacier retreated, about 16,500 years ago. “Stanley Brook from its headwaters to the beach is incised into thirty to forty feet of marine mud with a clayey silt texture. This material is quite weak and erodible, both by gullying by running water and slope failures … A distinct thirty- to forty-foot scarp in the marine mud … runs along the eastern side of the valley (lavender color in Figure B-18). The houses on the the western side of Route 3 sit on top of the scarp.” (p.129)

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One drawback to photographing in summer is that the leaves hide the shape of the land. I hiked up along the brook, but never found a spot where I could photograph the scarp. In the panorama above, you can see a little of how steeply the land rises at the right. The edges of the brook look like this far up into the woods – undercut and eroding:web_DSC5663-Edit

So the headwaters of the existing Stanley Brook cut through an ancient delta of sand and gravel deposits, and the rest of the brook is running through deposits of marine mud on the ancient sea floor. All of which means the brook is slowly moving all that ancient sand and gravel and mud downstream to the beach, and all of us playing in the sand on the beach are continuing a process that’s more than 20,000 years old.

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Yup. And back to the Coast Walk again.

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J: So I don’t think I’ve talked to you guys in ages. How was the boat this year?

H: The boat was very busy. Very busy, too busy, we didn’t really have any time for ourselves.

J: Are you still enjoying it? Like if you could scale it back a little?

H: Yeah, that’s the plan. We’ll see. I mean, it’s good. It’s not hard and you make a little money at it. It’s just constant, and people won’t take no for an answer. …

B: We had a lot of people that would say ‘I don’t see that you have any safaris for Saturday, or it’s full, but [can’t you fit us in]?

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B: Do you want a crab shell?

J: If it’s not smelly.

B: It’s a little smelly.

J: Yeah. Smelly crab shells don’t get better they just get riper.

B: When you open up the box or the bag two weeks later, and you’re like, ‘peeew!’

J: Yeah, and everything in it now stinks of crab.

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J: It’s funny how completely it changes.

H: Well, yeah, this is just the beach part of the cove.

J: How completely the geology changes.

B: Yeah, it totally changes because all of this

H: I’m not sure if they don’t stock the rocks there, or put the rocks there, to help keep the erosion down.

J: Well I think those rocks have been put there but long ago. … Don’t they replenish the sand in the spring?

H: No. What they do in the spring and all summer is they have a guy who rakes it. So there’s no seaweed.

B: Yeah, but I’ve never seen him trucking in sand or anything. You can see that between the manmade walls there’s a little ledge there. And then if you look at it, there’s two hills, this is the little valley and there’s the stream here so maybe that’s where everything collected. Because on our street, Jordan Pond Road, the people on the right, they’re all ledge, and our side of the road is all fill, and we’re on a sandy lot.

H: So, Jenn, do you know about the Seal Harbor Village Improvement Society.

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J: No, tell me.

H: So it’s been around for a hundred years, and I guess a hundred years ago every village had their own paths, and they were maintained [by the society].

J: Yeah, Bar Harbor has a VIS.

H: Yeah, and they’re probably making those paths now again, right? They’re rejuvenating some of these paths around town, to the park. So there’s a few paths sprinkled around Seal Harbor, and that’s sort of their primary mission. And at some point Rockefeller gave Seal Harbor that village green. I don’t know if there was something on it and it got torn down…

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Live sand dollars burying themselves in the sand.

J: There was a hotel over here.

H: That was over there.

J: No, there was one at this end, too.

H: So maybe that was it, there was a hotel and he bought the land after. So now there’s this thing where they try to get all the people in Seal Harbor to donate a little money for their cause and they have this one guy, Larry, who maintains the area, and they pay him. They cover his health insurance and they pay him year-round. So he’s the guy that hauls the seaweed off the beach in the mornings with his tractor.

B: He mows the lawn and trims the trees.

H: So in the end it winds up that there are really wealthy people, you know, and they just want to see that in perpetuity for their grandkids. So they pay really well. We might give ten bucks or somethings, but the really wealthy people fund this guy’s existence.

B: Because the town won’t maintain it

H: Not to the level they want

B: So the town would mow the lawn, basically, of the green, because it’s a town green, but the Village Improvement Society wants to make it look nicer.

H: So I guess the town actually pays a little bit too, towards the guy. …

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J: Bar Harbor has to do that [kind of maintenance] for the parks and everything. Maybe not quite as park-like…, but it’s a tourist thing.

H: But that’s more like the town wants it. Here it’s more about the wealthy people up on the hill want it for the beauty of the village.

B: So their grandkids can play ball on the green.

J: Well you have to admit, it is a really pretty green.

B: It is a pretty green, and a lot of people use it, which is nice. And a lot of people use the beach – oh they pay for the bathrooms, too.

J: Which are, I have to say, the prettiest public bathrooms ever. … How many bathrooms do you see with columns?

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Photo courtesy of Seal Harbor Library.

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OK, so speaking of the Seal Harbor Green, there are some stories there. First off, it’s another John D. Rockefeller, Jr. project [him again.] Second, they basically relocated the commercial district to make space for it. Most of the buildings on Main Street now were originally much closer to the harbor. For example:

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

In 1919, Rockefeller bought the old Glencove Hotel, tore it down, and gave the land to the town. I think you can see a corner of the Glencove sticking out from behind the market in the photo above.

Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. This photo is also reproduced in
Revisiting Seal Harbor where the caption identifies the man on the left as John Tracy, a stonemason for B.W. Candage and Sons.

The stone coping is still there, although it is less dramatic since the ditch is gone and the street level is higher: only the top six inches or so still show. From The Cultural Landscape Foundation website: “Once the site was prepared, the Seal Harbor Village Improvement Society (VIS) created a park with an open lawn affording panoramic harbor views, deciduous shade trees, benches, and a granite-block retaining wall making the sloping site more usable for recreation.”

Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

The green under construction, with the Seaside Hotel visible in the background. Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

“An adjacent town-owned beachfront parcel was improved as an extension of the green by famed doctor and summer resident Edward K. Dunham.” [Remember him?]

Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

“Dunhams tree-planting on village green.” I believe that’s Dr. Dunham standing at center. Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

“He began work on the project with Beatrix Farrand, which was continued by his widow in 1922 after his sudden death. Farrand’s design includes a terrace with a curved stone wall flanked with rugosa roses and blackberries; the project was dedicated in Dunham’s memory.”

Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

Construction of the Farrand-designed garden.  Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

I want that bench.  Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

Someone must have climbed into a tree to take this photo. Image courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

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It is almost invisible now, hidden from the road and from the beach by thick hedges of rugosa roses. But the stonework is still stunning:

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And back to the Coast Walk again, where we got distracted by all the gull footprints in the sand, and we noticed this:

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the prints of a gull’s wing feathers where it beat the sand while taking off. You see similar prints in the snow where an owl or hawk has tried to snatch some little rodent.

We also noticed a lot of these, which I think are lugworm castings, or something similar. I’d love to learn more about them, but don’t know who to ask yet.

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And the last bit of our conversation was drowned out by a helicopter. At first, we were worried because if you sight a helicopter around the island it’s usually the Lifeflight, and it means bad news for someone. We watched it land (in the field where the Seaside Inn once stood), realized it was a private flight, and guessed it might be people arriving for the Christmas holidays. Whew!web-_DSC3251-Edit

And that’s the end of Coast Walk 14, except for two last digressions: Cormorants and Salters.

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These cormorants have been hanging out on an unused Yacht Club float in the middle of the harbor all summer.

And this is from an article by Catherine Schmitt in the 2007 Friends of Acadia Journal:

“Even brook trout, commonly considered a fish of remote, cool mountain rivers, wander into the sea on occasion. These sea-run brook trout, also known as salters, historically ranged as far south as Cape Cod, coastal Connecticut, and Long Island, although many populations have disappeared. … Three or four major areas in Acadia are known to host salters today, including Stanley Brook, where a team of scientists from federal and state agencies and the University of Maine are studying the movements of sea-run brook trout in an attempt to better manage the species and understand the overall health of small coastal ecosystems. … Brook trout in clear, cool, clean coastal streams such as Stanley Brook occasionally venture into salt water, especially when they are young. Last July, Letcher and his crew caught 40 sea-run trout off the beach at Seal Cove. In October they didn’t catch any. His theory is that the fish are heading upriver to spawn in the fall. But it’s also possible that the fish are residents of the stream and simply like to wander into the sea once in a while— likely for food, as sea-run trout grow much faster than their freshwater counterparts. In salt water, trout take on a rainbow of hues that distinguish them from fish that stay in fresh water; Stanley Brook salters are purple, green, brown, and silver when they return to upstream reaches. By fall, their colors have faded as they put all their energy into spawning. Letcher has tagged the fish with little wires that send out unique signals, which are detected by two receivers placed beneath the Route 3 bridge.”

Anyone know the results of that study?

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Addenda

You may know that Beatrix Farrand worked extensively with John D. Rockefeller, Jr. on the design and plantings of the carriage roads and bridges in the park. There’s a new book out that goes into meticulous detail about that work, including her collaboration with the Millers (of Miller Gardens.) Pages 64-65 discuss the plantings around the Stanley Brook bridge.

Brouse, Roxanne. The Public Spirited Beatrix Farrand of Mount Desert Island. Beatrix Farrand Society Press, 2016. [Printed by Oddi Printing, Iceland.]

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Works Cited

Northeast and Seal Harbors, souvenir booklet, no author, publisher, or date, Mount Desert, ME. (Northeast Harbor Library special collections.)

Braun, Duane and Ruth, Guide to the Geology of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2016.

May, Stephen, ” One Summer in Seal Harbor,” Johns Hopkins Magazine, June 1995.

Schmitt, Catherine, “The Salters of Stanley Brook,” Friends of Acadia Journal, Summer 2007.

Vandenbergh, Lydia and Shettleworth, Jr., Earle, Revisiting Seal Harbor and Acadia National Park, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 1997.

 

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Addenda, August 28, 2016

I’ve found LOTS of information and several interesting photos of areas I’ve already passed through. I’ll be adding them into the posts where they belong, but am also posting them here so you don’t miss seeing them.

Addendum for Coast Walk 13, Part 1: Photos of the old Seal Harbor Shore Path. Tim Garrity and I stumbled across a section of this walk with the iron pins still intact.

 

Seal Harbor's Shore Path. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. Dunham Collection No.578

Seal Harbor’s Shore Path. Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. Dunham Collection No.578

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. Dunham Collection No.579

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library. Dunham Collection No.579. I also found this photo in Revisting Seal Harbor, which says this is Alice Dow. (p.51)

 

Addenda for Coast Walk 13, Part 5 :

I briefly mentioned that Cooksey Drive had been built by George Cooksey, but I’ve since found that he was instrumental in developing Seal Harbor both as a town and as a summer colony, so we should give him a little more attention.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

George Borwick Cooksey (right) with his wife, Linda Dows. Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Most of my information comes from Lydia Vandenbergh and Earle Shettleworth, Jr.’s book (full citation below.) Cooksey was a wealthy grain merchant from New York. It sounds like his wife’s family, the Dows, summered in Seal Harbor (although I’m not clear on their original connection to SH, the Dows women keep popping up in my research.) Cooksey bought Eastern Point and Ox Hill in 1891, planning to create a resort development. In 1891 he also built a house, ‘Glengariff,’ on the eastern side of the harbor, at the tip of what is now Ringing Point. [More about that house in Coast Walk 14.]

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

George Cooksey’s ‘Glengariff.’ Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Vandenbergh and Shettleworth call it the first major Shingle-Style house in Seal Harbor. Between 1891-95, he built roads, most notably Sea Cliff Drive [now Cooksey Drive],  installed sewer and water lines, formed a realty company to sell lots, and sold lots to several family and friends who built cottages. In poor health, he moved back to NY and died in 1922. Seal Harbor already had a reputation as a more intellectual summer resort than Bar Harbor, and Cooksey’s friends appear to have reinforced that. I came across this photo in V&S’s book:

web-Dunham

Their caption reads, ” New York biochemists Edward Dunham (above) and Christian Herter … needed not only a room of special equipment but also space for animals such as geese, monkeys, and mice. Their laboratory adjacent to their cottages became central to their study of meningococcus. Family members were commandeered: children … fed the lab animals and chased them when they escaped… . After Herter’s death in 1910, ‘Miradero’ laboratory continued to be used by its scientific owners, including Henry B. Dakin, the inventor of the Dakin antiseptic solution, and later Dr. James B. Murphy, the eminent cancer researcher for New York’s Rockefeller Institute.” (p.80)

And didn’t that send me off on a series of tangents! I wondered if they were involved with founding either the Jackon Lab or the MDI Bio Lab. [Spoiler, no.] First I had to find out who Dunham and Herter were. There’s a bio of Dunham here. I couldn’t find anything online about Herter’s work, but V&S describe him as “a physician, medical professor, and scientific researcher, specializing in diseases of the nervous system. He was among the first to merge scientific investigation with medical science, and he advocated that medical schools and hospitals establish research laboratories.” So they were prominent physicians and research scientists, and each of them married a Dows, so they were Cooksey’s in-laws: Dunham married Mary Dows, Herter married Susan Dows. Out of curiosity, I looked up Henry Dakin, and according to the Social Register he married Susan Dows Herter after Herter died. Then I looked up James Murphy, and while I couldn’t find any connection to Cooksey or the Dows family, my web searches were dominated by the scandal occasioned when his son’s wife divorced him to marry Nelson Rockefeller. Phew! So none of that is directly relevant to the Coast Walk, other than establishing that there was good reason for Seal Harbor’s intellectual reputation, but it sure made for some interesting reading.

Also, Edward Dunham pops up again when we get to the Seal Harbor Green, so remember him.

 

Addenda for Coast Walk 14, Ringing Point Again:

OK, remember ‘Glengariff,’ George Cooksey’s house? It was bought by E.B. Dane in 1909, torn down, and rebuilt much larger.

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library

Much larger! [More about the house and gardens on the Downeast Dilettante’s blog.] At 244′ long, it dominated the Seal Harbor skyline on the east:

SH Lib Web 563Glengariff

Photo courtesy of the Seal Harbor Library.

The Danes had a similarly scaled yacht (a schooner, really), also 240′ long, called the Cone:

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

Photo from Vandenbergh and Shettleworth, Revisiting Seal Harbor, 1997.

The Danes built Wildwood Farm (now the Wildwood Stables) to supply the house with produce and flowers:

The area now occupied by Wildwood Stables was once the Dane farm. Photo courtesy of Acadia National Park Archives

Photo courtesy of Acadia National Park Archives

The area now occupied by Wildwood Stables was once the Dane farm. Photo courtesy of Acadia National Park Archives

Photo courtesy of Acadia National Park Archives

Richard Billing’s, son of the local grocer, told some stories about Wildwood and Glengariff in the 1930s in his memoir, The Village and the Hill: “The E.B.Dane family owned the Wildwood farm and a two story mansion down at Dane’s Point. They may have owned the farm, but the Manson’s [sic] lived in it. They were a great addition to our community. The farmhouse was adequate for their family, which included four children; Charlie, Jennie, Nancy, and John. A greenhouse connected the house to the barn. The greenhouse was full of exotic plants… grown to supply ‘The House.’  The farm also boasted cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry. It was at the Wildwood Farm that I first saw watermelon growing, and squash with the children’s names written on them. Mr. Manson would scratch their names on the young squash, and the scar would result in raised writing when the squash matured. From my home, there was a path directly through the woods to the farm, about half a mile from us …. Often the Mansons would ski to school, or ride on a sleigh driven by their father. Theirs was the only working farm in Seal Harbor.

At the Dane’s big house down on the point, the Liljeholm’s daughter, Elsie, was our hostess. Her father was caretaker of the house, and they lived in the heated downstairs portion of the house in the winter. They would move to the rooms over the garage during the summer, when they would give up their quarters to the summer servants. The great sport at Liljeholms was to venture into the unheated part of the house to play hide and seek. Those of us who knew the house would go immediately to the main dining room, push the catch of a secret panel, and duck through to a hidden room, completely disappearing from view. Another feature of the house was a photographic darkroom in the basement that was built like a circular maze. There was no door, you just kept circling into the center, where there was a completely equipped darkroom … very dark and very spooky, and always very cold.”

According to the Downeast Dilettante, “The Dane estates weathered the great Depression, but by WWII, things were drawing to a close.  The Vanda was requistioned for duty in the war.  …  John D. Rockefeller Jr., in whose view shed Glengariff stood, bought the house for a song in 1946 and had it demolished (His son David later built a house on the property). ”

But Richard Billings gives a different version of the house’s end:

“One day, in the middle of winter, the building caught fire. Those of us who went to help the volunteer firemen were sickened to see most of the house consumed by flame. What was left was ruined by water and smoke. It had to be torn down, and was never rebuilt.”

The only personal information I’ve found about the Danes was a note published in A Church for Seal Harbor. One gathers that Mr. Smyth had been fundraising for the proposed new church, and received this reply, which the church historians found either amusing enough or offensive enough to preserve in their archives:

Bechtle, Isabel K., A Church for Seal Harbor, Northeast Reprographics, Bangor, ME, 2002

from Bechtle, Isabel K., A Church for Seal Harbor, Northeast Reprographics, Bangor, ME, 2002

 

Remind me never to put anything bitchy into writing, because sure as sure, that will be the one piece of correspondence all future historians latch onto.

 

_________________________________________________________

Bechtle, Isabel K., A Church for Seal Harbor, Northeast Reprographics, Bangor, ME, 2002.

Billings, Richard W., The Village and the Hill: Growing up in Seal Harbor Maine in the 1930′s, Day Mountain Publishing, Augusta, ME, 1995.

Vandenbergh, Lydia and Shettleworth, Jr., Earle, Revisiting Seal Harbor and Acadia National Park, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 1997.

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