Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Dole Trail 

The Dole Trail was an historic trail in Southwest Harbor on Maine's Mount Desert Island. It provided seaborne access to hiking destinations on the west side of MDI, including Fernald Point, which was the site of the 1613 European settlement by French Jesuit missionaries, Flying Mountain, Beech Mountain, Echo Lake and Long Pond.*1

1916 map (green arrow shows Dole Trail)
When the old trail was built or by whom is not known. It was first mentioned as the Dole Trail in the 1915 A Path Guide of Mount Desert Island, Maine, with its start at Dole Landing on Connor Cove and end at Somesville Road opposite Beech Hill Road.*2 The earliest map to show the 0.8 mile Dole Trail was the 1916 Map Of Mount Desert Island, compiled by Bates, Rand and Jacques.*3 On the 1926 Path Map of the Western Part of Mount Desert Island, the starting point in Connor Cove was specified as the "Dole Slip." The map also showed it linking to a path heading west along the Connor Cove shoreline to the mouth of Norwood Cove at the Southwest Harbor causeway, where it then turned north to Fernald Point Road. The 1928 Walks on Mount Desert Island, Maine, also spoke of the Dole Trail and mentioned the Dole Slip.*4 Possibly the last map to depict the trail was the 1942 U.S. Geological Survey Topographic Map of Acadia National Park and Vicinity. It showed the trail originating at Fernald Point Road, rather than at Connor Cove, and omitted the Connor Cove trail heading west from the Dole Trail to Norwood Cove.

1942 topo map

Charles F. Dole
The names Dole Trail and Dole Landing/Slip derive from the name of the owner of the property, Charles Fletcher Dole. Born in Brewer, ME in 1845 to Rev. Nathan and Caroline (Fletcher) Dole, he graduated second highest in his class from Harvard in 1868. Afterwards he entered the Andover Theological Seminary, graduating in 1872. For a short while he was a professor of Greek at the University of Vermont. In 1873 he married Frances Drummond. For 40 years, between 1876 and 1916, he was the minister of the First Congregational Church (Unitarian) in Jamaica Plain, a Boston neighborhood. The 5' 11", hazel-eyed Dole was a prominent author of religious and sociological themes and a pacifist.

In his autobiography Dole recounted his first visit to MDI: "In 1876 we went to Bar Harbor. Those were the days when you made your own trails and climbed over the mountains wherever you wished; you lived the simpler life; you hired a rowboat by the week and took your chances with the winds and the fog in visiting miles of beautiful wooded shores and picturesque islands."*5  Two of the earliest summer residents of Southwest Harbor, he and Frances bought land in 1884 and built The Ledge, their summer home on Fernald Point Road. He described the site as being near a location, "where now the 'rusticators' come in troops to see splendid sunsets, and to look over the "Jesuits' Field" on the old Fernald farm, with its springs of ice-cold water under the shore, each submerged twice a day with the salt tides and presently pure as crystal again."*6
Dole died in Jamaica Plain in 1927 and was cremated at Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston. His ashes are presumed to have been scattered near The Ledge.

Concerning the eponymous trail, Dole posted a notice in 1903 on a barrier across it informing his neighbors their occasional use was at their own risk and constituted no claim to any lawful or permanent right of way over his land.*7 The Dole Trail still exists, but it lies mostly on private property, as also do remnants of the Dole home and slip. Out of respect for the landowners' privacy I have omitted my usual GPS coordinates.
Dole house foundation and ledge
Dole Slip
It is interesting to note the Doles' son, James, moved to the Territory of Hawaii in 1899, a year after its annexation to the U.S. He established the pineapple industry there and a business later named the Dole Pineapple Company. Charles Dole's cousin, Sanford Dole, was the Hawaiian Territory's first governor.

1 For more on the historic European settlement please see previous blog posts dated 9/27/2012, 6/8/2013, 10/22/2014, and 1/26/2015.
2 A Path Guide of Mount Desert Island, Maine. Waldron Bates, Edward Rand and Herbert Jacques. 1915. Pp. 37, 40 and 42.
3 The number 10 on this map indicated the Dole Trail, as enumerated in the 1915 Path Guide.
4 Walks on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Harold Peabody and Charles H. Grandgent. 1928. Pp. 89 and 90.
5 My Eighty Years. Charles F. Dole. E.P. Dutton & Co., NY. 1927. P. 284.
6 Ibid., p. 290.
7 Hancock County Registry of Deeds, book 398/page 249.