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Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park have a long and rich history. Bar Harbor has gone from a haunt of the rusticators, who loved the natural beauty; through the days of wealth, high society, and 20-room "cottages"; through the decline of that golden era and the disastrous fire of 1947; to the area prized today by vacationers wanting to hike, cycle, kayak, or just relax. Acadia National Park also has evolved---from a land trust established to prevent and control development to a national monument and finally to a national park.
The following list is not exhaustive of the history and character of the village and the Park, nor does it include the many standard guides to Acadia National Park. I believe that it does represent something of a cross section of, and an entry to, the writings about Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, and Acadia National Park.
Inventing Acadia: artists and tourists at Mount Desert. by Pamela J. Belanger, 1999. The Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME, distributed by University Press of New England. ISBN 0-918749-09-3. A history, well illustrated with photos and copies of paintings, of the artists---many of the Hudson River School---who discovered the beauty and drama of the island's scenery.
Lost Bar Harbor. by G.W. Helfrich & Gladys O'Neil, 1982. Down East Books, Camden, ME. ISBN 0-89272-142-1. A pictorial history of the grand cottages built and maintained in Bar Harbor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mr. Rockefeller's Roads: the untold story of Acadia's carriage roads & their creator. by Ann Rockefeller Roberts, 1990. Down East Books, Camden ME. ISBN 0-89272-296-7. The network of carriage roads that John D. Rockefeller, Jr. had built on the island, and subsequently deeded to Acadia National Park, is a unique part of the park and contributes significantly to its accessibility and enjoyment.. This book takes the reader from JDR Jr.s early days, and the beginnings of his interest in developing carriage roads at the Rockefeller's Forest Hill, NY, estate, through the years of design, construction, and controversy on Mount Desert Island. Well illustrated.
Steam to the Summit: the Green Mountain Railway, Bar Harbor's remarkable cog railroad. by Peter Dow Bachelder, 2005.. The Breakwater Press, Ellsworth, ME. ISBN 0-9664831-1-1. From 1883 through 1890, a cog railway transported tourists from the shore of Eagle Lake to the summit of Green (now Cadillac) Mountain. Bachelder's illustrated history traces the development, operation, and eventual demise of the railway.
Acadia: the soul of a national park. by Steve Perrin, 1998, 2003. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA and Earthling Press, Bar Harbor, ME. ISBN 1-55643-468-5. The author has spent much of his life living in this area and hiking Acadia. More than a guide to the hiking trails of Acadia, this is a collection of his experiences on the trails---in all seasons---and his observatons and reflections on the landscape and the flora and fauna that inhabit it.
First Light: Acadia National Park and Maine's Mt. Desert Island. Photography by Tom Blagden, Jr., text by Charles R. Tyson, Jr., foreword by W. Kent Olson, 2003. Westcliffe Publishers, Englewood, CO and Friends of Acadia, Bar Harbor, ME. ISBN 1-56579-472-9. In my view, the pre-eminent photographic essay of the area, from lichens to sunsets and everything in between..
Bermel's Guide to Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park by Larry and Michele Bermel, 1996-2006. This comprehensive online guide may be found at http://acadiabarharbor.com and is well worth the visit. Written by a couple who have vacationed in and around Bar Harbor for over 20 years, it is an indispensible guide for newcomers, with many photos and a very personalized traveler's point of view. Most importantly, it includes several hints and pointers that can't be found in other commercial guides.
Pathmakers. by Margaret Coffin Brown and 17 contributors. Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, National Park Service, Boston, MA, 2006. ISBN 0-9779833-0-7. A masterful piece of scholarship and research on the development of the trail and path system on Mount Desert Island (most of the trails/paths were incorporated into Acadia National Park). The volume covers the history, existing conditions, and analysis of the trails and paths of the island. The first 60% of the book treats the history of trail development.; the remainder is a description of the general construction details and present condition of the trails. Included in the volume are numerous historical photographs and reproductions of old maps. The historical sections are highly readable; the descriptions of the trails are valuable to those contemplating hikes. Available through the Government Printing Office, at the Acadia National Park visitor's center, and local bookstores.