Friday, April 22, 2016

COMPASS HARBOR AND OLD FARM

I have been going to Compass Harbor for many years and had never once considered it to be an abandoned trail, but it is in fact just that.  I only recently learned that the Park Service wants as few people as possible visiting the area of Compass Harbor, which explains why for all these years there has never been a sign there.  The park did disclose that there is an ongoing debate over just what, if anything, should be done with Compass Harbor.


SMALL BEACH AT COMPASS HARBOR - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

 An excerpt taken from a newspaper story recently read, "A “cultural landscape assessment” of the former Bar Harbor estate of George Dorr, a founder of Acadia National Park and its first superintendent, will be conducted to find and inventory remnants of the main house, outbuildings, gardens and other significant features."
The newspaper story goes on to say, " The privately funded landscape assessment will help Acadia officials make decisions about the future management and protection of the property."

Some who are in the loop on this want Compass Harbor to remain just as it is - unmarked and hard to locate if you don't happen to be from this area.  Others want the site marked and brought in line with the parks other official trails, while others are pushing for the Park Service to erect some type of memorial to George B. Dorr at the site, which was once the home of Old Farm - the George B. Dorr estate.  It is worth pointing out that Mr. Dorr is often referred to as the Father of Acadia National Park.  I am in the later group, for if it was not for Mr Dorr's efforts and money there most likely would not be an Acadia National Park.
Even though Compass Harbor is a small area in the National Park, there is a lot there to see and explore.  For one thing Compass Harbor is home to not one but two beaches, the smaller beach being the most popular with the locals.  There is also an area some call Lookout Point where you can go to and watch huge cruise ships as the approach or depart from Bar Harbor, as well as see working lobster boats and sail boats pass by.  The smaller beach lies in the shadow of Dorr Point with high steep cliffs over looking it.


STONE STEPS AT COMPASS HARBOR - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

And than theres the foundation of Old farm itself, perched up on a hill top with old towering tree's all around it.  If you find Compass Harbor you will have no problem finding the site of Old Farm - the trail is well worn.  Exploring off the worn trail you can find areas of old stone work that were once park of Mr Dorr's gardens, as well as one or two other foundations that were most likely where the servants quarters were located.


OLD FARM - COMPASS HARBOR - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

The main trail itself pretty much does a loop through the woods and along the ocean with a very long section of stone steps leading uphill to the site of Old Farm.  I had always thought that was the only area with long stone steps, but the other day I located a second set of stone steps which lead down to the area of the larger beach - though this second pathway is not well worn and not so easy to find.


Abandoned Trails of Acadia - Compass Harbor Trail

At one point you come to the only trail marker at Compass Harbor, which marks the start or end of the Schooner Head Trail.  Many years ago I believe this trail was called the Red Trail.  Follow this trail a short ways and it crosses the Old Farm Road and enters the wodds on the other side.  To your right you will see a body of water through the tree's, when Mr Dorr was alive this was known as Dorr Pond and on some old maps is labeled as such.  Some of my best duck photos have been shot from the high banking overlooking Dorr Pond.  There is a large fallen tree which nearly cuts the pond in half and wild ducks like to nap in the sun along that area.


DUCK AT DORR POND - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

If you follow the Schooner Head trail onward it comes out onto the Schooner Head road, and continues on to Schooner Head Overlook.  A narrow paved trail from the Parking lot there leads down to high cliffs overlooking the ocean, and just below those cliffs is Anemone Cave, which can only be entered at low tide.  Over the years I have read and heard about people being trapped in this old sea cave and drowning and for years I tried to find some documentation  on this.  Recently I did find an old newspaper article of just such a case where two students from a local college entered the cave and got trapped in it, one narrowly escaped and the other drowned - I have the story posted on my blog DEATHS IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK.




VIDEO OF COMPASS HARBOR - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Back to compass Harbor, like I said, if your not from the area it can be a bit tricky to find, as it is unmarked.  Even the parking lot is tiny and only fits a few cars and it is hidden somewhat from the main road by tree's and brush.  As your driving along Main Street in Bar Harbor heading toward Otter Creek, you will pass the Grand Motel, the Bar Harbor YMCA and the town ball fields - all on the right.  The road rounds a corner and heads down a section of flat roadway, but just as the road begins to go uphill, to the left look for a tiny parking area on the left, it is unmarked and that is the start of Compass Harbor.  If you drive pass the Old Farm road, the Schooner Head Road or the Jackson Labs complex, you went too far.
To the far right corner of the unmarked parking lot is the start of an unmarked trail, that is the Compass Harbor Trail.
Below I will post a few other photos we took the other day at Compass Harbor.

COMPASS HARBOR PATH - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK


SECOND PATH WITH STONE STEPS, COMPASS HARBOR, ACADIA


WHERE SCHOONER HEAD TRAIL CROSSES OLD FARM ROAD - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK


WILD TURKEY NEAR DORR POND - COMPASS HARBOR, ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

FOUR SEASONS OF BAR HARBOR MAINE VIDEO


WOODPECKER BY DORR POND - COMPASS HARBOR - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Saturday, April 2, 2016

THE OLD BUCKBOARD ROAD

After doing some research I am now pretty certain what we discovered was a section of the old Buckboard road that was not able to be incorporated into the new Cadillac Summit Road.  In an article I found it states that when it was decided to built the Cadillac Summit road, as much of the old buckboard Road as could be used was to be be used in the building of the new road up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  It also stated that at one time the old Buckboard road continued on to where todays Kebo Golf Course area is located.



start of one way section of Park Loop Road


As your traveling along the park loop road, you want to pull over and park in the area where the One Way section of the Park Loop Road begins.   Now walk down the one way section, keeping to the right hand side of the roadway for a short ways, until you come to a storm  drain - it also has a very large rock in front of it just inside the woods which can easily be seen from the roadway (see photo).


storm drain with large rock


From the storm drain walk straight into the woods about 2 to 3 car lengths and you come to the old road.  This old road also shows up on old maps, but we went there not looking for the buckboard road, we were looking for a much bigger prize, the old Toll Booth path, which ran from the Buckboard road and made its way to the edge of eagle Lake to the site of the Green Mountain Railway.  Back than, you had only two options to go up Cadillac Mountain, by way of train, or by way of the Buckboard Road which required you pay a fee to the owners of the road, who were not connected to the railroad company.


Abandoned trails of Acadia - The Old Buckboard Road

Had we found any evidence of the old road this piece would of been titled THE OLD TOLL BOOTH PATH, but we came up short.
So once you enter the woods at that storm drain and come to the old road, it will go in two directions, one to the left leads you back in the direction of the North Ridge trail, with the old road coming out onto the Park Loop Road just before a curve in the roadway,  and a short distance beyond that curve is the parking area for the north ridge Trail.  And if you do go left, the further you go the tire marks get harder to follow.
That is not the case if you go right, the tire grooves in the earth remain easy to see, and dispite some small tree's and brush growing up in the roadway here and there, the road is almost perfectly straight.  The road was pretty wet when we hiked it, and we had to often step around wet areas, and a few places where it crossed sections of smooth granite, the granite was some what slippery.
I also went exploring straight up the mountain side for a ways at one point, and found old rusted barb wire running across the ground, I assume it was placed there by the owners of the buckboard road to keep people from going up the mountain without paying a fee.


large cave size storm drain, Cadillac Mountain Summit Road




The hike is not too long and it comes out onto the lower section of the Cadillac Summit Road by a large storm drain big enough to qualify for a cave.  We will return again at some point once again looking for evidence of the old Toll Booth Path..  I am also going to put up a video on this trip and I will place a link to it once we get it put together.
Needless to say, I will be doing a map of this soon.  According to a few of the locals, they say the current Cadillac Summit road pretty much followed the old Buckboard road and this old road clearly does that.
Just as a side note, the old Buckboard Road was once the scene of holdup's, with a gunman nick named the Gentleman Bandit holding up passing buckboards and demanding watches, rings and money from the men.  He got the name Gentleman Bandit because he did not rob from the women.  At one time a reward of $5,000 was placed on his head but he was never captured.
From the above map you can see the route the Buckboard road took - as far as I known of there was only two roads built to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  You have the first road, the buckboard road, which ran from the area of Eagle Lake road and you have the Cadillac Summit road, which replaced the Buckboard road.  The key difference being that the Buckboard road began in a different location than the newer summit road.  You can see on the old map above there is no Park Loop Road because at that time period there was no National Park there.
The route the Buckboard road took falls in between the current Park Loop Road and the North Ridge trail, if it ran as it's marked out on the map.  I have read that there is only one, perhaps two old maps still kicking around that shows the route and is marked Buckboard Road, but I do not have a copy of that map.  A report I read on the Cadillac Summit Road also refers to that old map.  By the way, if anyone knows where that map can be found with the words buckboard Road on it, sent me a link to it, I would love to have a copy of it.



The above map dates back to the days when the Green Mountain Railroad was running - note the motel at the summit.  So the road leading to the summit in this map is clearly the Buckboard Road, since the owners of the Buckboard road were at war with the owners of the Railroad company.

SOME HISTORY OF THAT AREA