Monday, January 26, 2015

New Facts Concerning the Cross on Flying Mountain

Since publication of the October 2014 blog article about the cross on top of Flying Mountain in Acadia National Park, additional information has emerged. Thanks to Hannah Stevens, archivist at the Northeast Harbor Library, and a letter she discovered in records of The Knowles Company founder Belle Smallidge Knowles it is now known the cross was erected on Flying Mountain in 1917.

The letter, signed by William Draper Lewis and Lincoln Cromwell, inter alia, states that it was the intent to have a granite cross built on the mountain to commemorate the 1613 establishment of the French colony on Fernald Point. However, they felt they needed to test the cross's acceptability to area residents. They thus first erected a replica wooden cross.

Lewis, a Philadelphian, and Cromwell, a New Yorker, both Northeast Harbor summer residents, were members of a committee attempting to acquire the mountains surrounding Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island, ME.

In 1917 Lewis purchased Flying Mountain from the Fernald family and that same year turned it over to the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations.

Cromwell purchased Acadia Mountain also in 1917. He likewise then donated it to the HCTPR that year, as a memorial to Rev. Cornelius Smith and his wife, Mary.*1
Smith-Wheeler Memorial on Acadia Mountain
Lewis and Cromwell were members of the HCTPR. It was through the land acquisitions of this organization and its gift thereof to the U.S. Government that Sieur de Monts National Monument was established in 1916.*2  Additional acquisitions led to the expansion of Sieur de Monts NM and its renaming to Lafayette NP in 1919 and subsequently to Acadia NP in 1929.*3

Due to the letter we can deduce from whom authorization was obtained to install the cross on Flying Mountain in 1917. Yet the committee seemingly never gave its endorsement for construction of the planned granite cross, as the wooden cross continued on Flying Mountain until its natural demise in the mid 1920s.


1 The bronze memorial reads, "Acadia Mountain given to the public in memory of Rev. Cornelius Smith and his wife Mary Wheeler who were pioneers of the summer colony at Northeast Harbor 1886-1913." Their daughter was Cromwell's wife, Mabel.
2 The first land gifts to the HCTPR were in 1908 from George and Linda Cooksey of New York and Seal Harbor (Barr Hill and the Champlain Memorial land off Sea Cliff Drive [now named Cooksey Drive; the memorial was moved in the 1970s to a spot near the Route 3 entrance to the Day Mountain path]) and Eliza Lee Homans of Boston and Bar Harbor (The Bowl and The Beehive).
3 The 114 year-old HCTPR still exists and serves as the governing body of Woodlawn, the historic estate of George Nixon Black, Jr., in Ellsworth, ME.

Note: Knowles photograph is from The Knowles Company website.