|Its all about ships
Cruising to Bar Harbor is about atmosphere, scenery, and lobster.
Bar Harbor is a small town (population less than 5,000) in the
Downeast region of Maine. During the second half of the 19th
Century and the first half of the 20th Century, it was a summer resort
for the rich and famous. That all ended when a devastating fire
swept the town in 1947. However, the remnants of that time serve
to give Bar Harbor an atmosphere that is distinct from other small
New England towns.
Bar Harbor shares Mount Desert Island with Acadia National Park.
The area is largely unspoiled even outside the boundaries of the
park. In the summer, the air is crisp and clean. In the fall, the trees
erupt in a blanket of color from the mountains down to the craggy
rocks of the coast.
Maine is renown for its lobster and you can seen the lobster men
bringing in their catch at the piers in Bar Harbor. The island also
has an Oceanarium and Lobster Hatchery. Not surprisingly,
seemingly every dining venue in Bar Harbor has lobster on the menu
ranging from traditional lobster rolls to more exotic creations such as
lobster ice cream and lobster pizza.
The currency in Bar Harbor is the Unites States dollar. Other
currencies are not widely accepted. However, major credit cards
are almost universally accepted.
English is spoken here. However, the area has its own unique way
of speaking. For example, “a yeh” means “yes” and the name of the
town may be pronounced: “Ba Ha Bah.”
OVERVIEW AND HISTORY..........................................................Page One
CRUISE PORT; SHOPPING; GETTING
PLACES OF INTEREST...................................................................Page Three
GOING ASHORE: LIGHTHOUSES IN MAINE..............................Photo Essay
In 1604, French explorer Samuel du Champlain ran his ship
aground on the rocks near present day Bar Harbor. While his
ship was being repaired, he looked at the barren peaks of the
mountains that rise up from the sea and declared the island des
Monts Deserts, meaning "island of barren mountains.”
Considering that the bulk of the island is covered by forest and
that Native Americans had hunted and fished here for
generations, Champlain’s description was somewhat
misleading. Nevertheless, it stuck and the island on which Bar
Harbor sits is called Mount Desert Island to this day.
Nine years later, French Jesuits set up a mission on the
island. However, this was a time of struggle between France
and Great Britain for North America and the British also
claimed the territory. Accordingly, the British-owned Virgina
Company destroyed the mission.
In 1688, Antonie de la Mothe Cadillac received title to the
island and briefly visited here. He is memorialized in the
name of the 1,530 foot, Cadillac Mountain - - not only the
tallest mountain on the island, but also the tallest mountain
along the eastern coast of the United States.
France ceded the island to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of
Utrecht. But France and Britain continued to fight over North
America until France’s defeat in the Seven Years War (French
and Indian War), which ended in 1763.
That same year the first British settlers came to the island.
However, by 1796, there was sufficient settlement to justify
incorporating a town and so the community became the Town
of Eden. Some histories say that the name is a biblical
reference while others say that the town was named after
English statesman Richard Eden. (The name of the town was
officially changed to Bar Harbor in 1918).
In the 1840s, American landscape painters Thomas Cole
and Frederic Church visited Eden. The paintings that they did
of the area kindled the imaginations of the American public and
other artists, journalists, sportsmen and people who were
interested in the beauty of natural America followed Cole and
Church to Bar Harbor. In 1855, the town’s first hotel was built
but by 1888, it had 30 hotels. People from America’s
industrial cities were flocking to the town by train and by ferry
in search of a “primitive” summer get-away.
The millionaires of the Gilded Age were also looking to
leave the summer heat of the cities behind. Discovering Bar
Harbor, people with names like Astor, Vanderbilt,
Rockefeller, and Morgan built mansions (called “cottages”),
chiefly along the Shore Path and in the West Street area. As a
result, the character of the town changed from a fishing village
to a playground for the super-rich.
These newcomers realized that too much development
would spoil the area. Led by educators George B. Dorr and
Charles W. Eliot, a group of citizens placed undeveloped land
into a public land trust. Since this had the by-product of
reducing the tax rolls, the state legislature attempted to break
the trust. Eliot and Dorr then petitioned the federal government
for protection and in 1916, the trust’s land was declared a
national park - - the first one east of the Mississippi.
Subsequently, John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated another 11,000
acres to the park (now called Acadia National Park).
The coming of the federal income tax, World War I, the
Depression and World War II took a toll of Bar Harbor’s
super-rich and the area went into decline. In October 1947, a
fire began that would rage for ten days. Amongst other things,
it destroyed most of the mansions and Bar Harbor’s days as the
summer home of the super-rich came to an end.
Bar Harbor, however, re-invented itself during the last half
of the 20th Century. Acadia National Park became one of the
most popular parks in the American National Park system.
Meanwhile, cruise ships began adding Bar Harbor as a port of
call on their Canada/New England itineraries.
Above: Bar Harbor is still an active fishing village.
Below: Fishermen unloading a catch in Bar Harbor.
The real treasure of the Bar Harbor
area is its natural beauty - - clear water
lapping against rocky crags, dense
forests, which become even prettier as
the leaves start to change.
Cruise destination guide - - photo tour - - Bar Harbor, Maine (USA) - - page 1
During the American Civil War, men from Mount
Desert Island left their homes to fight to preserve
Above: The weather in Bar Harbor in the fall can change
quickly. Here, a fog rolls in from the sea and covers the
bow of Queen Elizabeth 2 in just a few minutes.
Left and below: Sunsets can be spectacular in Bar
Harbor, sometimes covering the area in a pink glow.
* This photo tour and the accompanying commentary should only be viewed as a general guide that is based upon one writer's research
and experiences. Accordingly, readers should do their own research prior to their journey. Beyondships is not affiliated with any of the
entities depicted or mentioned herein and assumes no responsibility for their actions and for the products and/or services they provide.
Nor is inclusion in this photo tour a recommendation of the entity shown, its products, services or facilities.
One can still see remnants of Bar Harbor's years as a
Gilded Age resort in the Victorian styling of Agamont
Park and in the large houses along the Shore Path.