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 there's the foundation of Old farm itself, the name of the Dorr estate, 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 woods 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.

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
With all of its beauty and wildlife, along with its historic value, one has to wonder why the national Park Service refuses to acknowledge George B. Dorr with some type of monument, after all, the man often referred to as the Father Of Acadia national Park deserves to have the ground he called home acknowledged in some fashion.  Without Mr. Dorr's vision, and more importantly, leadership and money, Acadia national Park may very well never come to be.


SECOND PATH WITH STONE STEPS, COMPASS HARBOR, ACADIA

Update;  the meetings are through, and as one who has stood off to the side and watched the park operate for a number of years, their ruling came as no surprise - the area of compass harbor will remain as being treated as an abandoned area of the park.  No monument to the Parks founder will be erected, the tiny parking lots will remain as they are, unmarked and hard to find.  In fact, in part of the parks statement they said they want as few people as possible visiting the area of Compass Harbor.
It is sad and tragic at the same time that the man responsible for creating the park is so snubbed by them.  One only has to look at history to see the actions the park service has taken to help eradicate him from the history of the park.  The evidence is overwhelming,  we have the parks recent decision to keep Compass harbor as it currently is, treated like an abandoned site in the park.  Than there is Mr. Dorr's once famous bike path, a path he was often seen riding his bike along, abandoned as well.  And the Park Service dug up and moved Dorr's famous wild gardens to the site they are currently located in.  Those gardens were seen as a treasure to Mr Dorr, whose mother attended to them nearly daily, and it was the time and care she put into the gardens that had made them so well known from near and far.
Mr. Dorr's named the spring at Sieur de Monts spring "The Sweet waters of Acadia," and had that name engraved on a huge stone.  While it is true the stone can still be located if you are looking for it, clearly the park service placed it where most visitors would not see it.
I dare say that Mr. Dorr must be turning over in his grave to see how the park service he helped create has treated the very locations in the park the way they have, sites he loved with a passion and deeply cared for.
The time has come and is long over due for the park service to honor George B. Dorr with a monument at Compass harbor.  Stop trying to hide the past and instead embrace it.
UPDATE:  
A little bit of credit has to be given to the National Park Service, as on my last visit to Compass Harbor I found they had put up a sign giving a little information on Old Farm and George B. Dorr.  The sign is in the woods, near the start of the Compass Harbor Trail.  The parking lot remains unmarked and easy to miss unless your looking for it.   While it is not a monument, I guess one could say it is a baby step in that direction.

 
GPS MAP - COMPASS HARBOR - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK



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

3 Comments:

At September 20, 2016 at 10:28 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Hi! Couldn't figure out how to email you but this a wonderful resource of trails! I was wondering if you had seen the old fireplace and memorial plaque up on Sols cliffs. I'm told that it was put there to commemorate the fire?

 
At October 8, 2016 at 5:49 PM , Blogger charlie puth said...

good

 
At October 8, 2016 at 5:53 PM , Blogger William Braylen said...

As you drive inland from Margate over the rich Paddock Plains towards Oribi Flats you'll start to see the step by step augmenting holes between the center ground and the back ground crosswise over to your right that continuously separate to shape South Africa's universally eminent Oribi Gorge. National park near Bar Harbor

 

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