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Addenda: The Bar Harbor Inn (Coast Walk 2)

So I was poking around in the Maine Room of the Jesup Library, which is exactly what it sounds like – a tiny room off to one side of the main room in which they keep all the books about Maine, with one wall just for Bar Harbor and MDI. It has stuff like Ladies’ Fellowship cookbooks from local churches, and a tiny book about the gardens at the Jordan Pond House, and books about the Bio Lab and the Jackson Lab, and books like Lost Bar Harbor or Bar Harbor in the Gilded Age. Intensely local stuff, some of it. So I was poking around among the pamphlets, and I found this:

It’s actually awesome – at least half of it is a history of tourism on Mount Desert Island from the 1830s to the 1980s, and the author sets the development of the inn within the context of social change on the island. If you’re interested in the island’s history I highly recommend this one! It’s short and readable, too, with some great anecdotes.

If you can remember all the way back to Coast Walk 2, we talked a bit about the beginnings of the inn as a social club. Here is Messer’s account of the Reading Room’s grand opening in 1887:

 

That was a little long, sorry. I’ll skim over the rest of its history – the Reading Room social club closed in 1921 after WWI devastated tourism and the new income tax cut severely into the summer visitors’ discretionary income. It was bought by the Maine Central Railroad in 1923 and leased to the Bar Harbor Yacht Club, which was very successful through the Roaring Twenties but closed in 1932 with the onset of the Great Depression. The following year, a consortium of hotel owners created the Shore Club in the building as an amenity for their guests. In the 1940s, when tourism dried up during WWII, the US Navy occupied the building, using it as a mess hall, communications, recreation, some housing, and office space. After the war, it was essentially abandoned and sat empty until the Fire of ’47, when the Red Cross used it as their disaster service headquarters:

In 1948, some of the more determined rebuilders formed the Bar Harbor Hotel Corporation and bought the old Reading Room building. They “raised money by selling shares to island residents and other interested parties. … The plan was to modify the Reading Room building and add a wing of fifty rooms on the southern side of the building.” The new Hotel Bar Harbor opened in 1950. It prospered, was sold a couple of times, changed its name to the Bar Harbor Motor Inn, continued to prosper, and in 1987 was bought by David Witham, who changed the name to the Bar Harbor Inn.

And so it goes.

 

WORKS CITED

Messer, Vincent C. A History of the Bar Harbor Inn. Privately published, 2010.

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Addenda: the Rodick herring weirs (Coast Walk 1)

Years and years ago – before I became a photographer, before I started either the Beachcombing series or the Coast Walk, even before I got curious about how the stripes get into beach stones – I spent a lot of my beachcombing time at the Bar. Once, on a bitterly cold winter day after a big storm, I stumbled across a line of old posts.

I stared at them for a long time – they were too far from either the big island or the little island to have been part of a dock, and they were too regularly placed to be debris. They were obviously not part of a shipwreck. What the heck? It remained a mystery to me for years. Then Facebook was invented, and the Bar Harbor Historical Society posted this photo:

 

Bar Harbor Historical Society Facebook post, March 22, 2014

 

And all was made clear. It’s crazy that I forgot to mention this on Coast Walk 1, because this was one of those moments that added up into the idea that became the Coast Walk! But better late than never, right?

For those of us who are not familiar with them, let’s start with the basics – what’s a weir? A fishing weir is a structure meant to trap or channel fish. It’s an ancient technique found all over the world. People use stone walls, baskets, woven wattle fences – whatever materials are common. Here in the northeast, you still sometimes see posts with nets strung between them.  The tide rises, the fish swim in the deeper water, then as the tide recedes, the current pulls the fish into the weir. Some weirs are constructed with a small opening so it’s hard for fish to find their way out. I believe the Rodick weir had an opening that could be closed when the weir was full.

This 1901 description of the weir by a naturalist makes me so jealous:

from Arnold, Sea-Beach at Ebb-Tide, 1901

It sounds like the world’s most amazing tidepool! One thing I don’t understand is that now at low tide that area is dry (as you can see in my photos), which makes me wonder if we’re both talking about the same weir. Maybe Rodick had another one a little farther out? Another peculiarity is that while most of the species she mentions are still here, I’ve never seen Margarita helicina (now called Margarites helicinus.) It looks a bit like a Smooth Periwinkle, so maybe I have seen them and didn’t realize it? It’s hard to learn species ID through the internet. Anyway, I’d never heard of it before reading this, so you know I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out now.

One of the reasons I was so struck by finding out this had been a herring weir is that, to the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any inshore herring now. My husband remembers a large shoal of them coming in to the town beach when he was a kid (1970s), but that was a rare thing, and doesn’t seem to have happened since. I highly recommend this essay on cod-fishing around the island and it’s effect on other species, including herring:  “From Wealth to Poverty: The Rise and Fall of Cod around Mount Desert Island.”  Herring was used as bait in the cod industry, as it is now in the lobster industry, and the scale of the depletion the authors describe is hard to imagine. “One large weir was on Rodick’s Island (now Bar Island) bordering Bar Harbor. In 1884 the Maine Mining and Industrial Journal reported “A big haul of herring—some 3,000 to 5,000 bushels [roughly 210,000 to 350,000 pounds]— was made this week in the weir at Rodick’s Island.” And the Journal announced the next year that “Herring have been quite plentiful in Frenchman’s Bay recently. One day last week 1,000 bushels [70,000 pounds] of the fish were taken in the Rodick weir at Bar Harbor in one tide.” This was one of many weirs in the area; at this time, Penobscot Bay supported 183 of them.”  Can you imagine 70,000 pounds of fish being taken between Bar Harbor and Bar Island?

from Chisholm’s Mount Desert Guide-Book, M.F. Sweetser, 1888

Some more photos of the Rodick weirs:

photo courtesy of the Jesup Memorial Library (PC 23948)

photo courtesy of the Jesup Memorial Library (PC 18943)

And more photos of the remains of the weir:

size 9 boot print for scale

In other news, while I’ve been stalled waiting for permissions for the next stretch of the Coast Walk, I’ve been busy in the studio.

Here’s the beginning of a new series on Healthcare:  (Jennifer Steen Booher)

And here’s my current photography obsession, seaweed:

 (Jennifer Steen Booher)

WORKS CITED

Arnold, Augusta Foote. The Sea-Beach at Ebb-Tide. NY, The Century Co., 1901. (the photo is from my personal copy but I’ve provided a link to an online text.)

Springuel, Natalie, Leavenworth, Bill, and  Alexander,Karen. “From Wealth to Poverty: The Rise and Fall of Cod around Mount Desert Island.” Chebacco, vol.XVI, 2015, pp.66-91.

Sweetser, Moses Foster. Chisholm’s Mount Desert Guide-Book. Portland, ME, Chisolm Brothers, 1888.

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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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