Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Cross on Flying Mountain, Acadia National Park -- a Mystery Unraveled
Just south of the summit of Flying Mountain, at the entrance to Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island, are unexplained pieces of iron -- eyebolts, rod and a brace -- embedded in a horizontal granite surface.  The site overlooks Fernald Point to the south.

Cut rod and brace
What these iron relics are is revealed in a 1924 Bar Harbor Times photograph, which shows a cross on top of Flying Mountain.*1  The accompanying caption reads, "President-emeritus Eliot of Harvard, the earliest summer resident on the Northeast Harbor shore, stands on Jesuit Field [Fernald Point], at the site of the French Missionary Colony at the entrance to Somes Sound, briefly established in 1613."*2
                                                                                                                                                                          Bar Harbor Times
The  wooden cross was designed for Aimee (Rotch) Sargent, wife of Winthrop Sargent, summer residents of Northeast Harbor, by the architectural firm Cram & Ferguson of Boston.*3  The cross stood about 30' high. Near the base of the cross were the letters A M D G, which stand for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, [For the Greater Glory of God], the motto of the Roman Catholic Jesuit Society of Jesus.

                                                                                                                                                    Northeast Harbor Library
The year the cross was erected is unclear, but it might have been in 1913 in time for MDI's August Tercentenary celebration of the French-Jesuit St. Sauveur settlement in 1613 on Fernald Point.*4  The cross was gone by 1927, when it was reported it had toppled over in a storm and was not replaced.*5  The reason for not replacing the cross is not known. However, to commemorate the 1613 settlement nearby Dog Mountain had been renamed St. Sauveur in 1918 at the request of George B. Dorr, custodian of the new Sieur de Monts National Monument. Also, Aimee Sargent died in 1918 and was preceded two years earlier in death by her husband. These events would have weighed against the cross's replacement.

It is interesting to note that Aimee Sargent was the sister of Arthur Rotch of the Boston architectural firm Rotch and Tilden that designed St. Saviour Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor and other structures on Mount Desert Island. Ralph Adams Cram of the above-mentioned firm Cram and Ferguson had earlier worked at Rotch and Tilden. Thus the cross's link to Cram and Ferguson becomes evident.

The cross's site is easy to find, as the Flying Mountain trail cuts directly across it. The aerial map depicts the salient features mentioned above and includes the ANP and private property boundaries on Fernald Point.
1 Bar Harbor Times, March 19, 1924, p. 3.
2 Eliot retired as president of Harvard in 1909, a position he had held for 40 years. That same year he was elected president emeritus of the university.
3 I wish to thank Ethan Anthony of Cram & Ferguson Architects for his research of company files over the course of many months.
4 For more about this historic settlement see my blog posts dated September 27, 2012 and June 8, 2013.
5 Bar Harbor Times, June 15, 1927, p. 8.
GPS coordinates:
Flying Mountain cross site: N44° 18.110'  W068° 18.863'
Flying Mountain summit: N44° 18.130'  W068° 18.858'