In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

A Short History of Mount Desert Island


Granite mountains, Mount Desert, 1837
Granite mountains, Mount Desert, 1837
The granite mountains of Mount Desert Island have been a landmark to voyagers for 10,000 years.Maine Historical Society

Text by Gunnar Hansen, adapted by Tim Garrity

Mount Desert Island has long been seen as a place of abundant resources and natural beauty, where hardy people worked together to carve life and a community out of the rugged landscape. It was first inhabited by native peoples. Then it was “discovered” by colonial settlers, who were so taken with the attractions of the place that they adopted it as their own. Eventually summer visitors discovered the island for themselves, and it became famous as a vacation resort and as the home of Acadia National Park. The extraordinarily beautiful and abundant natural environment, the deep and appealing cultural traditions of native inhabitants, and the contributions of accomplished and sometimes wealthy newcomers, have all exerted powerful influences on the history of Mount Desert Island.