zhanna’s adventures

zhanna’s adventures

Acadia Adventures 2015—Day 9

Sweet Waters of Acadia mystery stone
Sweet Waters of Acadia mystery stone

Breakfast was our traditional meal for dad’s last day: bagels (cheese and 3-seed) and sticky buns at the waterfront before a walk on the Shore Path. Another gorgeous morning! We tried to convince him to stay longer, but Dad was packed up and ready to head home by around 9:30.

George Dorr’s Mini Precipice?

After Dad left, Rich and I took a walk over to Spring Street to search for evidence of George Dorr’s “mini-Precipice” that was supposed to have been set in the ledges adjacent to Glen Mary Park. We found some great ledges that would have been perfect for such a path, but we couldn’t find any rungs or even a sign that there had been rungs on them, and we searched the entire area.

It’s hard to find any information about this mini-Precipice. J. R. Libby, a local blogger whose website helped us find the Great Cave, wrote the following:

George B. Dorr, in honor of the work crew that helped build the Precipice Trail, built a miniature version of the Precipice trail by Glen Mary Park in downtown Bar Harbor. It was on a cliff with ladders and iron rungs so people could go there and practice before attempting to hike the real thing.

Exploring the Bicycle Path

Our next stop was the Village Green, where we boarded the Island Explorer bus to Sieur de Monts yet again. This time we went further, though, and asked to be let off at the Champlain North Ridge trailhead. We weren’t of course hiking that trail; we were headed back to the Dorr Bicycle Path to explore as much of it as we could find.

Dorr's Bicycle Path in a 1909 postcard
Dorr’s Bicycle Path in a 1909 postcard

We found it again easily and Rich improved the cairn he had established yesterday. Then we began to follow the trail, which was very easy to discern. Someone else else hikes this path too, as evidenced by the cairns placed here and there along the way. Just a few yards beyond where we ended yesterday, we found a boundary disk (USA/PVT) on a granite post. (And we found yet another one further on, at a point where the trail comes very close to the Bear Brook Pond.)

We also easily found the steps up to the Champlain North Ridge trail! The steps emerged on the North Ridge Trail at the spot we had suspected yesterday but hadn’t investigated in depth. The path to the steps is “disguised” by a thin but gnarly branch. It looks ridiculous as a barrier, but most people probably don’t even notice it.

I’m thinking that the steps were part of the original route of the Bear Brook/Black Path (now Champlain North Ridge Trail). Our GPS tracklog matches exactly with the former routing of the trail as shown on the USGS topo map and the old path maps.

According to Pathmakers (p. 219), “The lower, northern end of the trail was rerouted by the CCC during the motor road construction as part of the circulation system for the now-abandoned Bear Brook Campground.”

We were able to follow the remnants of the bicycle trail all the way out to the Loop Road. Rich noticed a nimble fawn, still adorned with a few of her spots, standing about 10 yards from us and not frightened at all. Just yards from the road, it felt like we were deep in the Acadian forest. We came upon a loop trail crossing through the woods, and another trail heading west. Was this perhaps part of the old Wild Gardens path established by George Dorr in 1916? According to Pathmakers, that trail also passed through the area near Beaverdam Pool.

When we emerged on the road, we took a waypoint at the “trailhead” for future reference and continued on the loop road, thus completing our own loop back to Sieur de Monts. But we weren’t done yet!

A very mysterious carved stone

Our final goal for the day was to locate the abandoned “Sweet Waters of Acadia” stone. Most visitors to Acadia have probably seen the boulder near the Sieur de Monts Spring House that’s carved with the words “SWEET WATERS OF ACADIA.” (Makes sense that it’s near the spring house, right?!) According to NPS’s List of Classified Structures in Acadia (no. 194) the stone was commissioned by George Dorr to be placed at the spring house. There is no mention in any official database or publication that I can find, of another Sweet Waters monument.

And yet that’s just what we found, half-buried beneath pine debris in open woods just off the Park Loop Road near Sieur de Monts. This semicircular stone contains two engravings: “SWEET WATERS OF ACADIA” in English and its translation, “EAUX DOUCES DE L’ACADIE,” above in French.

It’s a pretty stone, easily as nicely carved as the other memorial stones in the park, with no misspellings or obvious errors. So why was it not used? Or was it used, and then discarded at some point? If it was discarded, why here; why wasn’t it placed elsewhere or completely removed from the site? And why is there apparently no record of it anywhere?

Beautiful stone, why are you here?
Beautiful stone, why are you here?

The only information we’ve found about this stone is in “Acadia National Park’s Discarded “Sweet Waters of Acadia” Slab” from The Memorials of Acadia National Park, a blog by Don Lenahan. (A photo of the stone does appear in Pathmakers but with no accompanying information.)

Lenahan gives a pretty thorough analysis of the stone and has likely found its original location: near the pool by the spring house, both of which were part of a larger bottling house operation. He quotes two Bar Harbor Times articles (1915 and 1916) that describe a flat stone with both English and French inscriptions at a reception room building (that is no longer standing) near the pool.

Lenahan still has the same questions we do, though. Why was it discarded, why here, and why is it still here? (We are also wondering how anyone came across it! It’s well off any beaten path, and not in a terribly pleasant place to walk.)

Our afternoon, after taking the bus back to the Village Green, was spent relaxing at the Village Green. I got an ice cream cone from MDI Ice Cream (buttermint) and we sat on a bench for over an hour just talking and watching the sights.

Fantastic Fiddlers Green

Supper tonight was at Fiddlers Green in Southwest Harbor. We choose Fiddlers Green when we’re looking for a quiet, relaxed atmosphere, good food and great beer (so, really, we could probably eat there every night!). We sat on the covered porch, as we always do, and it was nice and quiet although the crowds started coming in as we were finishing. We started with IPAs and mushroom/cheese/spinach soup. Then Rich had the duck with roasted potatoes while I had the sole with rice. Both came with fresh green beans, carrots and onions in an herb butter sauce. Dessert? Of course! I had the Heidi cake, as always, and Rich got the special: lemon “moose” with blueberry topping.

We stopped at the Hannaford before settling in for the night, to pick up some wine and other provisions just in case Dave and family stopped by after their Haunted Bar Harbor tour. They didn’t and it was just as well since we were in bed early!

Today's Survey Marks

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