Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Acadia National Park's Little-Known Mountain

Between picturesque Eagle Lake and northerly scenic ponds in Acadia National Park on Maine's Mount Desert Island lies Brewer Mountain.
This 444' mountain has had a number of names. In 1874, for example, it was called "Interlaken Hill," a likely reference to the popular 19th century lake resort in the Swiss Alps. This name lasted until at least 1893. In 1896 it was changed to "Dan Brewers Mt" on the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association's Bates-Rand-Jaques Path Map of the Eastern Part of Mount Desert Island, which path map series continued the name until 1941, its last year of publication, as well as on the Bates-Rand-Jaques 1896 Map of Mount Desert Island. The 1922 Department of Interior map of Lafayette National Park (Acadia NP's predecessor) renamed it "Brewers Mt." The name was changed again on the Interior Dept.'s 1931 Acadia National Park map, when the letter 's' was dropped and it became simply "Brewer Mt."

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the organization that maintains uniform geographic name usage for the U.S. Government, states the mountain was originally owned by Daniel Brewer. The USBGN carries it as "Brewer" mountain, the name it approved in 1928. Present-day commercial maps of Acadia NP show it as "Brewer Mtn." The gratis National Park Service map of Acadia NP has not depicted the mountain at all for the past 40+ years.

                                                     E.L. Allen photo, NY Public Library
Mountain House
Daniel Brewer owned another mountain, named Green Mountain. In 1866 he built the first hotel on it, the Mountain House, overlooking Bar Harbor from its prominent 1530' summit. He sold the hotel and 75 acres of the summit two years later to two sons and a third individual. The Mountain House ceased operations in 1882. A grander hotel replaced it the next year as part of the Green Mountain Railway Company enterprise, which featured a cog railroad from Eagle Lake to the summit. The enterprise failed a decade afterwards and the summit's last hotel was removed in 1896.

In 1908 Daniel's son Frank, executor of his will, conveyed the Green Mountain summit to the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations. The HCTPR was acquiring lands it would donate to the US Government and which would ultimately form Acadia NP. Green Mountain was renamed Cadillac Mountain in 1918. In 1939 Daniel's son Fred approached George Dorr, Acadia NP superintendant, for permission to install a bronze plaque in Daniel's honor on the former site of the Mountain House. Dorr favored the request for its historical import and recommended it to the NPS director in Washington, DC. The director denied the request out of concern for proliferation of plaques in the park and on grounds that commemoration of the mountain's first hotel was unimportant. Curiously and conversely the NPS had no issue commemorating Stephen Mather, its first director, seven years earlier with a bronze plaque on Cadillac's summit and in nearly every park in the country under its jurisdiction.

Brewer Mountain does not provide scenic views from its summit, but it is nonetheless interesting to explore. The mountain was quarried for its granite by Daniel's son Frank at least between 1905 and 1909. The results of the excavations remain and provide a historic look into the extensive quarrying activity that took place on MDI.


There are no maintained paths to the summit or quarry sites. Lacking the desire to hike up the mountain, one can see evidence of  Brewer Mountain quarrying by looking north from inside the Eagle Lake parking lot toward a granite ledge and wall, fronted by water, only several feet away. The map shows an adequate way to the summit and two quarry locations.

GPS coordinates:
Brewer Mountain
            Summit: N44° 22.981'  W068° 15.006'
            North quarry: N44° 22.858'  W068° 14.994'
            South quarry: N44° 22.790'  W068° 14.978'
Mountain House site: N44° 21.062'  W068° 13.565'
Mather memorial: N44° 21.148'  W068° 13.454'