As Maine’s only national park, Acadia represents the first park founded east of the Mississippi and an ever-increasing popular tourist destination. Although one of the most well-known parks in the East today, its creation was far from certain.
As a resort for wealthy families for decades, Mount Desert Island in the early 1900s had fundamentally changed from a fishing and ship-building community to a bustling summer destination.
In 1901, a small group of summer residents gathered to form the Hancock County Trustees for Public Reservations, which aimed to acquire and preserve natural space on the increasingly crowded island. The natural beauty of Mount Desert Island was under threat from sawmills, quarries and private ownership, prompting the trustees to gather 5,000 acres and donate the land to the federal government in 1916.
George Bucknam Dorr, one of the best-known trustees, successfully convinced President Woodrow Wilson to create Sieur De Monts National Monument with a stroke of the presidential pen. Dorr and others continued gathering lands and in 1919, were able to create Lafayette National Park through an act of congress, eventually changing its name to Acadia in 1929.
The park continues to host millions of visitors each year and with continued stewardship, will continue to do so for generations to come.