Bar Harbor Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor in Maine

Once upon a time, Bar Harbor was a simple fishing and ship building village. Today, it has become a major tourist destination village for visitors from all parts of the world. In many ways, “Eden,” which was the original name of Bar Harbor, is a more appropriate description. Indeed the painters who arrived in the 1850s, such as Frederic E. Church, Thomas Cole, Fitz Hugh Lane, William Hart and Thomas Birch would agree. These talented artists immortalized the area thru their paintings of the island's majestic mountains and enticing seascapes. The first hotel on the island was built in Bar Harbor by Tobias Roberts. It was called the Agamont House in 1855. In 1868, Alpheus Hardy was the first summer resident to build a "cottage" in Bar Harbor called Birch Point. He seems to have started a trend. Eventually, more hotels and cottages were built as hordes of people either arrived at the island by train or took the Mount Desert Ferry to dock at Bar Harbor.

In the 1880's, distinguished visitors such as Joseph Pulitzer, William Proctor, Mary Cadwalader Jones, Frederick Vanderbilt, George Vanderbilt and Evelyn Walsh McLean arrived in Bar Harbor and built magnificent "cottages.’ If you take one of the many Bar Harbor tours, you can see pictures of these opulent summer "cottages." During this period of time, Boston native George B. Dorr conspired with Charles W. Elliot and John D. Rockefeller Jr. to bring about the National Park. Originally, it was called Sieur de Monts monument. In 1919, the name was changed to Lafayette National Park and in 1929 to Acadia National Park. George B. Dorr was the first Superintendent of the Park. When you take one of the Bar Harbor tours, you can find a permanent exhibit of Mr. Dorr that is worth seeing.

On Oct. 17, 1947, the sparks at a cranberry bog in Hulls Cove became a devastating fire that lasted for a total of ten days. For the first three days, the fire stayed small. Unfortunately, when the winds picked up, both the fire’s direction and intensity changed. A total of 67 of the majestic homes along what was called Millionaires’ Row were destroyed. Although the town’s business district remained intact, 70 permanent homes were lost, as well as five of the grand, historic hotels.

The fire was not entirely under control until Oct. 27. By then it had burned nearly half of the eastern side of Mount Desert Island. Fortunately, only five individuals lost their lives.

While most of the year-round residents decided to rebuild their homes, many owners of the summer cottages did not. Because of this, Millionaire’s Row became the stretch of motels along Route 3 that now serve the visitors who take Bar Harbor tours. Although this area has no remnants of its elegant past, it does provide affordable accommodations if you are planning a visit to any Bar Harbor Maine attraction.

Bar Harbor at dusk
Bar Harbor at dusk  Image: Lee Edwin Coursey (flickr)

Today, the area is a traveler’s paradise. There are an endless number of things to do in Bar Harbor Maine, which is why hikers, beach combers and whale watchers from all sections of the world come to visit. If you like lobster, visit the lobster hatchery at the Mount Desert Oceanarium. However if you are interested in the bigger fish, or should we say mammals in the sea, a visit to the Bar Harbor Whale Museum is one of the fun and exciting things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

It goes without saying that Acadia National Park is probably the most popular attraction in Bar Harbor Maine. This exquisite park encompasses the rocky Maine coastline, as well as some of the world’s most scenic mountains, forests, lakes and streams. Whether you prefer active outdoor activities, or just a stroll through a museum or a quaint street, you will never fall short of things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

Top image: ahisgett (flickr)

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