Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maine: Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is a National Park located in the U.S. state of Maine. It reserves much of Mount Desert Island, and associated smaller islands, off the Atlantic coast. Originally created as Lafayette National Park in 1919, the first National Park East of the Mississippi, it was renamed Acadia in 1929.

The landscape architect Charles Elliot is credited with the idea for the park. It first attained federal status when President Woodrow Wilson, established it as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916, administered by the National Park Service.

On February 26, 1919, it became a national park, with the name Lafayette National Park in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, an influential French supporter of the American Revolution. The park's name was changed to Acadia National Park on January 19, 1929.

From 1915 to 1933, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. financed, designed, and directed the construction of a network of carriage trails throughout the park. He sponsored the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, with the nearby family summer home Reef Point Estate, to design the planting plans for the subtle carriage roads at the Park (c.1930).

The network encompassed over 50 miles (80 km) of gravel carriage trails, 17 granite bridges, and two gate lodges, almost all of which are still maintained and in use today. Cut granite stones placed along the edges of the carriage roads act as guard rails of sort and are locally known as "coping stones" to help visitors cope with the steep edges. They are also fondly called "Rockefeller's teeth".

Fire of 1947
On October 17, 1947, 10,000 acres (40 km2) of Acadia National Park were burned in a fire that began along the Crooked Road several miles west of Hulls Cove. The forest fire was one of a series of fires that consumed much of Maine's forest as a result of a dry year. The fire burned for days and was fought by the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, local residents, and National Park Service employees from around the country.

Restoration of the park was supported, substantially, by the Rockefeller family, particularly John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Regrowth was mostly allowed to occur naturally and the fire has been suggested to have actually enhanced the beauty of the park, adding diversity to tree populations and depth to its scenery.

Centennial Initiative Project
The National Park Service, as part of their Centennial Initiative celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, created a project to promote voluntary, multimodal park access for present and future generations. Going “car free” offers visitors the opportunity to explore Acadia by foot, bicycle, shuttle bus, commercial tour bus, private automobile, or private and commercial vessels. The project includes an inter-modal transportation center on state-owned land four miles (6 km) north of the park, multiple-use trails to connect gateway communities with the park, and rehabilitation of historic carriage roads surrounding Eagle Lake.

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