Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Pulpits of Acadia
This is not about church pulpits, but about prominent rock formations on Mount Desert Island, ME and in Acadia National Park that resemble them, were so named, and became hiking highlights.
Collections of Jesup Memorial Library
Pulpit Rock - Bar Harbor ca.1915
Pulpit Rock - Bar Harbor today
The earliest rock formation to be called Pulpit Rock appears to have been the one in Bar Harbor.

It was noted in 1869 by Benjamin F. De Costa. In his book, Sketches of the Coast of Maine, he mentions a shore walk from the steamboat landing [Bar Harbor wharf] south to Cromwells Cove: "Opposite Mr. Hardy's handsome cottage is an isolated rock. Every one must climb this, because, forsooth, it is Pulpit Rock. In some great cathedral, it would serve a good turn for the preacher.*1

It wasn't until 18 years later this pulpit rock became first depicted on a map.*2  It is located off the Shore Path alongside the Bar Harbor Inn.

Pulpit Rock - Gorge Path
The second pulpit rock initially appeared on 1896 path and MDI maps and was located in the gorge between Cadillac and Dorr Mountains.*3 

That same year a newspaper article describing the Cadillac Mountain path system stated, "The main path runs along the valley for a considerable distance, then crosses the [Kebo] brook and finally reaches the gorge and runs in the bed of the brook up between Green [Cadillac] and Dry [Dorr] mountains. Near the head of the brook one reaches Pulpit rock which affords a good resting place and charming vistas; then on up the gorge and at the top the path branches to east up Dry mountain, and west up Green to the Mountain house [a summit hotel]."*4
Francklyn Memorial - Gorge Path

Four-tenths mile before reaching this pulpit rock while hiking up the Gorge Path, the hiker will pass a bronze memorial to Lilian Endicott Francklyn (1891-1928), whose friends financially endowed the path in 1929.*5

The Pulpit - Maple Spring Trail
A 1906 path map depicted a third rock called "The Pulpit."*6  It is located in the Maple Spring Trail gorge 450' north of the carriage road's Hemlock Bridge.
A trail was named for it and called variously the Pulpit Trail, Pulpit Rock Trail, and Pulpit Rock-Maple Spring Trail. None of those appellations remains today.
The first time all three pulpit rocks appeared on the same map was in 1937.*7  Their last appearance on a map was in 1941.*8

SWHPL Collection of Photographs #8937
Pulpit Rock - Thunder Hole  1921

Apparently never mapped, there are two additional pulpit rocks.

The Southwest Harbor Public Library (SWHPL) has a 1921 photograph of "Pulpit Rock" at Thunder Hole off Ocean Drive.
This one is mentioned in a 1960 newspaper article: "As the flying spray obliterated vision of much of the pulpit rock at the side of Thunder Hole …"*9

Pulpit Rock - Thunder Hole today

SWHPL Collection of Photographs #11895
Pulpit Rock - Cadillac Mountain summit  1935

Another SWHPL photograph, of October 1935, identifies a pulpit rock overlooking Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands from the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

Why have these five pulpit rocks since disappeared from our awareness? Are there more pulpit rocks on MDI? Until we get the answers, have fun finding and enjoying them. Here are their GPS locations:
Bar Harbor Shore Path:           N44° 23.444'  W068° 12.083'            
Cadillac-Dorr Gorge Trail:       N44° 21.556'  W068° 13.211'
Maple Spring Trail gorge:        N44° 19.993'  W068° 16.876'
Thunder Hole:                         N44° 19.237'  W068° 11.318'
Cadillac summit:                      N44° 21.216'  W068° 13.306'

Pulpit Rock locations
Legend:   Trails     Park Loop Road     Carriage Road
Sketches of the Coast of Maine and Isles of Shoals, with Historical Notes, by B. F. De Costa. New York. 1869, pp. 130-131.
2 Map of Mount Desert Island. Colby & Stuart. 1887.
3 Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association Path Map of the Eastern Part of Mount Desert Island. Bates, Rand and Jaques. 1896. Map of Mount Desert Island. Bates, Rand and Jaques. 1896.
4 Bar Harbor Record. July 1, 1896, p. 5.
5 Francklyn memorial location: N44° 21.904'  W068° 13.254'  The Park had removed the memorial for maintenance by November 2012 and plans to reinstall it later this summer.
6 Path Map of the Eastern Part of Mount Desert Island. Bates, Rand and Jaques. 1906.
7 Map of the Eastern Part of Mount Desert Island. Bates, Rand and Jaques. Revised 1937.
8 Path and Road Map of the Eastern Part of Mount Desert Island. Bates, Rand and Jaques. Revised and published by William Jay Turner. 1941.
9 Bar Harbor Times. September 15, 1960, p. 1.