In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

The Development of an Island-wide Identity

In the latter half of the 20th century, old institutions grew and new ones arose that tended to unite the island. One long-time resident said that before 1950, he had never heard the term “MDI.” But large institutions like the College of the Atlantic, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and Jackson Laboratory provided economic stability and year-round jobs, drawing people from throughout the island and beyond in a common pursuit of knowledge and education.

Perhaps this trend is no better illustrated than in high school basketball, where Pemetic, Gilman, Mount Desert, and Bar Harbor high schools once competed fiercely for island bragging rights. In 1968, the schools were united in a consolidated Mount Desert Island High School. The old loyalties did not disappear right away, but in time, the players managed the transition from rivals to teammates, with the girls’ team winning state championships in 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

Mount Desert Island has long been known for its natural beauty, the resilience of its native people, and the contributions of those who have made it their new home. The island’s history should be counted among its wondrous natural resources – a treasure to be appreciated, protected, continually re-discovered and celebrated for this and future generations.