Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Acadia Mountain - a Memorial Gift to Acadia National Park

Many people love to hike the moderately strenuous Acadia Mountain in Acadia National Park, but perhaps they don't know how it came into Park hands. On the east side of Acadia Mountain, in an almost inaccessible location just above the high-tide line of Somes Sound, is a bronze memorial plaque that explains it:


The plaque commemorates the donation of Acadia Mountain to then-named Lafayette National Park in 1919 by Lincoln and Mabel S. Cromwell in memory of Mabel’s parents, Cornelius and Mary. Reverend Dr. Cornelius Bishop Smith was born in Connecticut in 1834 and married New Yorker Mary Wheeler (1842-1914). The rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Manhattan from 1867 to 1895, he first came to Mount Desert Island about 1883. In 1891 he hired local architect Fred L. Savage to build a shingle-style summer cottage, which they called Rosserne, off Manchester Rd. on Somes Sound in Northeast Harbor. It is still impressive today. He also built the beautiful, stone St. James Church, north of Northeast Harbor on the corner of Rte. 198 and Giant Slide Rd. It is now a private home. Cornelius died in1913 at Rosserne. A year after his death, Mary died tragically in a Manhattan apartment house elevator accident.

If you hike Acadia Mountain and wish to make a loop of it, you'll descend its steep south side to the Man-O-War Brook. At the trail junction, you can turn left to where the brook flows over a ledge and splashes into Somes Sound. The Man-O-War Brook name dates from the Revolutionary War, as a site where warships would replenish their water supply.* You can return to your start in the parking lot on Rte. 102 via the Man-O-War Brook fire road, a loop of 2.8 miles. Or you can follow the steep trail up St. Sauveur Mountain back to the parking lot, a loop of 3.7 miles. When deciding which route to take, look around for ruins because you're near the location of the Robinson homestead. Acadia Mountain and Man-O-War Brook fire road were earlier named Robinson Mountain and Robinson Road respectively. In this area too is Gold Diggers Glen, rumored in the 1800s to be the site of gold and pirates' treasure.

If you decide to take the trail up St. Sauveur Mountain, you'll have beautiful views of the entrance to Somes Sound and the islands and ocean beyond. The mountain was named to honor the first European settlement on Mount Desert Island in 1613. About three months after the French Jesuits and their ship-borne compatriots had landed on the site and named it San Sauveur, a British warship arrived, destroyed it and caused the loss of French lives. The unmarked location of San Sauveur is on the field of Fernald Point, a short distance south of St. Sauveur Mountain. A beautiful memorial depicting the landing and commemorating the Jesuit Settlement is outside St. Ignatius Church in Northeast Harbor. The settlement's 400th anniversary will occur next summer.

* At this point you are well south of the memorial plaque's location, but near where you could descend to the water's edge at low tide to begin the difficult scramble to see the plaque.

Note: With regard to descending the steep south side of Acadia Mountain, exercise caution especially if the granite is wet. There have been several injuries there this season.

Helpful GPS coordinates:
Acadia Mt. summit GPS location: N44° 19.386'  W068° 19.359'
Acadia Mt./Smith-Wheeler memorial GPS location: N44° 19.280'  W068° 18.728'
Man-O-War Brook/Robinson homestead/Gold Diggers Glen GPS area: N44° 19.091'  W068° 19.008'
St. Sauveur summit GPS location: N44° 18.611'  W068° 19.381'
San Sauveur Settlement on Fernald Point field GPS area: N44° 17.941'  W068° 18.651'
Jesuit Settlement memorial at St. Ignatius Church GPS location: N44° 17.643'  W068° 17.619'


  1. Amazing! How did you ever find this?

  2. Congratulations Don Lenahan! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.

    1. Thanks, Andrew. I'm happy you like the blog. I enjoy the research and comments like yours help me continue. Stay tuned for another tomorrow that mentions Dane, Rockefeller and Wildwood Stables in Acadia NP.