Acadia Roads and Bridges
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park preserves all or portions of 15 islands in addition to Mount Desert Island in Maine. Its approximately 35,000 acres include forty-one miles of coastline, the only fjord on the east coast, and the highest point on the Atlantic coast of North and South America. The precursor to Acadia National Park, Sieur de Monts National Monument, was established on July 3, 1916. When the monument was upgraded to national park status three years later, it became the first national park east of the Mississippi and the only park in the country created solely from donations of private land. Initially called Lafayette in honor of the French general who supported the colonists during the Revolutionary War, it was renamed Acadia in 1929.
Although present-day visitors traditionally drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain before dawn to witness the first sunlight striking the American continent, the roads of Mount Desert Island were not always so accommodating. Long before the park was established, American Indians hunted throughout the island using a sophisticated network of footpaths. When European settlers arrived in 1761, they too used these paths, widening many to make room for horses and buckboard wagons. The Indian trail to the top of Cadillac Mountain, for instance, was widened and made a toll road during the 1850s. Early European settlers to Mount Desert Island quickly began constructing their own roads in order to enhance economic and social interaction. As early as 1777, residents had connected the island communities of Bar, Bass, and Southwest harbors with crude roads that were often impassable during inclement weather.
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