«9 u« QNT DESERT NATIONAL PARK
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
COMMIHEE ON THE PUBLIC LANDS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
^ H. R. 11935
A BILL TO ESTABLISH THE MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PARK
IN THE STATE OF MAINE
MAY 30, 1918
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
^. of D.
^^H 28 1919
MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PARK.
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee of the Co:mmittee on the Public Lands,
Thursday, May 30, 1918.
The committee met at 10 o'clock a. m„ Hon. John N. Tilhnan pre-
There were also present Representatives McClintic and Mays.
STATEMENTS OF HON. JOHN A. PETERS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MAINE ; MR. GEORGE B. DORR,
CUSTODIAN SIEUR DE MONTS NATIONAL MONUMENT ; AND MR.
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H. M. ALBRIGHT, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR NATIONAL PARK
Mr. Tillman. Gentlemen, we have met this morning for the pur-
pose of listening to the advocates of H. R. 11935, a bill introduced
by Mr. Peters of Maine to establish the Mount Desert National Park
in the State of Maine. Mr. Peters, the Chair will recognize you for
whatever statement you desire to make, and I will ask you to take
charge of the hearing and introduce whatever witnesses you desire to
2)resent to the committee.
Mr. Peteks. I will do so, Mr. Chairman. I want to briefly de-
scribe the origin of this proposition. On the coast of Maine, on the
island of Mount Desert, a tract of land of about 5,000 acres now, with
additions of 5,000 more in contemplation and ready to be added, is
now owned by the United States as a national monument, accepted
by the President in 1916 under the statute of 1906 authorizing him
to do so. This property is of extraordinary scenic and historical and
tourist value. The details of it I will ask Mr. George B. Dorr, who
is here and who is the custodian appointed over it by tlie Secretary
of the Interior, and who is also, by the way, one of the selectmen of
the town of Bar Harbor, in which a large portion of this land is sit-
uated — to explain to you presently. This property was acquired by
public-spirited individuals, largely at the instigation of Mr. Dorr,
who has been devoting years of his activities to getting it together,
for the purpose of givi.;g it to the Government to be used as a
national park. I say national park, because that is the way people
look at it, but it is now legally and technically a national monument.
In the sundry civil appropriation bill of this year an appropria-
• tion was asked' for by the Department of the Interior for the care
and preservation of 'this property, and for the building of some
necessary roads and paths, and for other purposes. In the course of
the hearing before the subcommittee of the Appropriations Com-
mittee we understood it was suggested by members of the committee,
4 MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PABK.
especiall}' the chairman, Mr. Sherley. that the name by Avhich this
monument was known, that of Sieur de Monts, the French explorer
who came down on that coast in 1604 and discovered the country, be
changed. This name, of course, does not exist locally any more. It
was suggested, as I say, that the name of the park be changed, and
it was thought that possibly the Committee on Appropriations might
change it in its bill. But the Park Service of the Interior De-
partment and other interested persons thouobt it might be undesir-
able to have that done in an appropriation bill, and with the co-
operation and consent of the Secretary of the Interior this bill was
introduced to change this monument from a national monument
technically and legally to a national park, and to change the name
from Sieur de Monts Monument to the Mount Desert Xational Park,
which would be its common name and would identify the park,
because Mount Desert in the eastern part of the countrj^ is a well
known place where people resort for recreation and health from all
over the eastern section of the country, east of the Mississippi River.
This bill originated in that thought of the Committee on Appropria-
tions and had for its purpose changing the name to a more common
and identifying one, and making certain other technical changes to
the end that the reservation should be legally a national park as
well as practically a national park, which it is now. You gentlemen
know better about this than I do, but there is no substantial differ-
ence as it is now between a national monument and a national park.
It is actually a national park; it is treated as such, used as such, and
in order to get the benefit of a national park, it is desired to have
it technically and legally a national park.
Mr. Tillman. Just what significance has the term "Mount
Desert " ?
Mr. Peters. Mount Desert is the name of that island.
Mr. Tillman. Wh}^ was it named that?
Mr. DoKR. That name was given it by Champlain. in September,
1604, when he came sailing into Frenchmans Bay and named the
island from its bare-topped mountains. It was the first land on our
coast that he reached. He left the colony which De Monts was es-
tablishing at the mouth of the St. Croix River, our present national
boundaiy, and sailed down the coast until the reached this island,
which he landed on and named.
Mr. McClintic. What year did you say that was in?
Mr. Dorr. 1604.
Mr. T1L1.MAN. I wanted to know why he selected that term. What
significance has that name? Is it descriptive of the island or just
what does it mean ?
Mr. Dorr. I think these photographs will show you. He says in
his account that the mountains were rocky and bare-topped. The
word " desert " in French, moreover, has a different meaning from
its English one, signifying simply " wild and solitary. ''
Mr. Peters. As I understand it, Champlain called it the Island of
the Desert Mountains when he sailed down and saw these tremen-
dous tops rising from the ocean. It is the only place on the coast
Avhere such a thing occurs, and he called it the island of the Desert
Mountains. It is an island about 15 or 20 miles across on the coast
of Maine, connected by a bridge with the mainland ; on it is the sum-
MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PARK.
mer resort of Bar Harbor, in which town a portion of this property
lies. This map which I show you shows the property.
Mr. McClintic. How long is that bridge ?
Mr. Dorr. I think about 1,800 feet. It is being rebuilt, under
Government direction, of iron and concrete.
Mr. Peters. There was a ford there before the bridge was built,
so that the connection between the mainland and the island is quite
Mr. Albright. Mr. Peters, when you use the word "town," you
mean the New England " town " which may cover a very large area ?
Mr. Peters. Yes. This island has on it now four towns making
up the area you see there indicated on the map.
Mr. Tillman. The term town does not mean a village but a body
of land ?
Mr. Peters. Yes. It means the district. This town marked on
the map Eden has now been changed by the Legislature of Maine to
Bar Harbor; that represents all this land (indicating). A great
portion of it is wild and uncultivated.
Mr. McClixtic. You say there are about 5,000 acres now in the
hands of the Government?
Mr. Peters. Yes, sir.
Mr. McClintic. And yoi, propose to take in about 5,000 acres
Mr. Peters. Yes; they hare in contemplation, and have arranged
for, an addition of 5,000 acres more without any cost to the Gov-
Mr. McClintk. AMio oamis the 5,000 additional acres at the
present time ^
Mr. Dorr. It belongs to a public service corporation which was
formed to acquire ancflf old these lands for the purpose of transferring
them to the National Government. It is called the Hancock County
Trustees of Public Reservations.
Mr. Peters. President Eliot of Harvard is the president of that
Mr. Dorr. Yes ; and I anj iis executive officer.
Mr. Peters. It is a corporation formed without any pay to
anybody and was organized for the public-spirited purpose of ac-
quiring these and other lands through contributions made by public-
spirited citizens. Once acquired they can not go back into private
Mr. McClintic. When the 5,000 acres are added to the other
5.000 acres how much m'>re territory will remain on that island ?
Mr. Dorr. I should think the island might have about 75,000 or
80,000 acres on it.
Mr. McClintic. Is the balance of the land in that territory in-
cluded on the island good for agricultural purposes?
Mr. Peters. Much "of it is, but this territory which has been
turned over is not suitable for agricultural purposes.
Mr. McClintic. Is any portion of the balance of the island cov-
ered by timber?
Mr. 'Peters. Yes; there is some timber there, although the prin-
cipal part of the remaining timber is on the part which has been
turned over to the Government.
6 MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PARK.
Mr, Dorr. Around the mountain bases there is a good deal of very-
interesting forest. '
Mr. McClintic. Is there territory now in the park, or monument^
or in the territory to be taken into the park, that is covered with
Mr. Peters. It is covered partly with timber, but not entirely.
Mr. McClintic. There is a sufficient amount, however, to make it
an attractive place for a park?
Mr. Dorr. Oh, yes : more than that.
]VIr. Peters. It is the most beautiful and most useful place for a
public park that there is anywhere in the East.
Mr. Tillman. Mr. Peters, I w^ould be glad if you would develop at
some length the characteristics of the park.
Mr. Peters. I will read you the letter of Secretary Lane, which
describes many of those things.
Thk Secrktaky of thk Interior.
W(i.shiiiytoii, Mail 15. 1918.
My Dear Mr. Ferris : I have your request of May 6, 1918. for a report on
H. R. 1193.5. " A bill to establish the Mount Desert National Park in the State
While this measure proposes to t-reate a n-'w lueniher of the national park
system, its effect, if enacted into law, would be To merely change the name of
the Sieur de Monts National Monument and promote this area to the national
park status, at the same time adequately inovidiiig for its extension and de-
velopment along well-defined lines. As this monument is already under the
jurisdiction of this department, and innnediately under rhe control of the Na-
tional Park Service, by virtue of the act of August l!o, 191G, the National
Park Service Act (39 Stat., 535), the only iaiportant question involved in this
legislation is whether the monument lands f.re worthy of advancement to the
national park class. I believe that the national park s'hould be estal)lished for
the following reasons :
First: Mount Desert Island has importait historic value. It is the place
where Champlain first landed on this coast, and the French had a station here
years before the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Second : Scenically its impressive headlands give Mount Desert the distinc-
tion of combining sea and mountain. Thei* headla.nds are by far the loftiest
of our Atlantic coast. Their high, rounded summ'its, often craggy, and their
splendid granite shelves form a backgrouixl for m rugged shore line and an
island-dotted harbor which is one of the fiiest that even the IVIaine coast can
present. Back of the shore is a mountain a'ld laJke wilderness which is typical
in a remarkable degree of the range of Appalachian scenery.
Third : From the point of view of conser^ ation. the value of the proposed
park can hardly be overestimated. The forests are largely primeval. Oaks,
beeches, birches, maples, ashes, poplars, and many other deciduous trees of our
eastern ranges, here found in full luxuriance, riingle with groves of pine and
giant hemlock. The typical shrubs of northei' stern America are in equal
abundance. Wild flowers abound. There are few spots, if any, wdiich can
combine the variety and luxuriance of the eas-ern forests in such small
The rocks also have their distinction. This was the first part of the conti-
nent to emerge from the prehistoric sea. Archean granites in original exposure
such as these, though common in eastern Canada, are rare in the United States.
Worn by the ice sheets of the glacial period, eroded by the frosts and rains of
the ages, their bases carved by the sea, their surfaces painted by the mosses
and lichens of to-day, they are exhibits of scientific interest as well as beauty.
Still another distinction is Mount Desert's wealth of bird life. All of the
conditions for a bird sanctuary in the East seem to be here fulfilled. Once
Mount Desert was the home of many deer, some of which are now returning
from the mainland. Moose haunt it still occasionally. Once its streams
abounded in beaver, and will again after a few of these animals are planted
in its protected valleys.
Fourth: From a recreational standpoint, the Mount Desert Park would be
capable of giving pleasure in the summer months to hundreds of thousands of
MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PAEK. 7
people living east of tlie Mississippi River. Last year it was visited by more
than 50,000 individuals. The island is accessible by automobile, railroad, and
boat, and is only a relatively few hours distant from many large eastern
cities. Developed as a national park in the interests of all the people, this
reservation will become one of the greatest of our public assets.
The Sieur de Monts National Monument was established by proclamation of
the President, July 8, 1916. under the act of June 8, 1906, " An act for the
preservation of American antiquities" (34 Stat., 225). A copy of this procla-
mation is inclosed.
The area of the monument is approximately 5,000 acres. All of this land was
secured by purchase, or through donation, by the Hancock County Trustees of
Public Reservations, was conveyed by this corporation to the United States
and accepted by me under the authority of the Monuments Act. Since the
establishment of the reservation, additional tracts of land to the extent of
5.000 acres have been secured and tendered to the Government. I have indi-
cated that I will accept tiiese lands as soon as the deeds and other instruments
of title have been examined and found satisfactory in all respects. The reserva-
tion, therefore, may be regarded as having a total area of approximately
10.000 acres. Ultimately this will be extended to 20,000 acres through the con-
tinued efforts of the public-spirited gentlemen who are devoting their time and
l»ersonal funds to the development of this park enterprise.
I have no criticism to make of the form of the pending bill, and I hope that
the committee may give it early and favorable consideration.
Franklin K. Lane, '
Hon. Scott Fereis,
Chairman Cominittev on Public Lands,
House of Representatives.
Mr. TiLLMAx. Mr. Peters, I also suggest that you insert in the
record at this point a copy of the bill.
Mr. Peters. Yes.
(The bill referred to follows:)
[H. R. 11935, 65th Congress, 2d Session.]
A bill to establish the Mount Desert National Park in the State of Maine.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America in Congress assembled, That the tracts of land, easements, and
other veal estate heretofore known as the Sieur de IVIonts National Monument,
situated on JMount Desert Island, in the county of Hancock and State of Maine,
established and designated as a national monument under the act of June
eighth, nineteen hundred and six, entitled "An act for the preservation of
American antiquities." by presidential proclamation of July eighth, nineteen
hundred and sixteen, is hereby declared to be a national park and dedicated as
a public park for the benefit and enjoyment of the people under the name of
the Mount Desert National Park.
Sec. 2. That the administration, protection, and promotion of said Mount
Desert National Park shall be exercised under the direction of the Secretary of
the Interior, by the National Park Service, subject to the provisions of the
act of August twenty-fifth, nineteen hundred and sixteen, entitled "An act
to establish a National Park Service, and for other purposes," and acts addi-
tional thereto or amendatory thereof.
Sec. 3. That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized in his discre-
tion to accept in behalf of the United States such other property on said Mount
Desert Island, including lands, easements, buildings, and moneys as may be
donated for the extension or improvement of said park.
Mr. Peters. The Chairman has asked me to develop the descrip-
tion of the territory there, and I Avill ask Mr. Dorr to state in gen-
eral the character of this land and to answer any questions that are
Mr. Tillman. Before you take your seat. Mr. Peters, I would
like to ask you a question.' Are there any well-made roads inside the
park now ?
8 MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PARK.
Mr. Peteijs. I refer that part of the matter to Mr. Dorr, because
he is familiar with it.
Mr. TTLL:\rAx. Suppose you let him develop that, then. I believe
you are not asking any present appropriation.
Mr. Peters. Yes. \\e are: but in the appropriation bill, not here.
Mr. Mays. Have you had any appropriation heretofore?
Mr. Peters. Xo. sir.
Mr. Albright. AVe have used some funds there, possibly as much as
$150, in the past two years, from our general monument fund.
Mr. Mays. A negligible amount ?
Mr. Albright. Yes.
Mr. Peters. I will now ask Mr. Dorr to make a statement. ^Ir.
Dorr is the custodian of the property, and has been on the board of
selectmen of the town of Bar Harbor and is the gentleman through
whose efforts, almost entirely, this property was gotten together and
presented to the Government.
Mr. Dorr. Will you ask me the points you want to bring out ?
Mr. Tillman. I think the committee would prefer that you begin
in your own way and give us a full and complete description of this
Mr. Dorr. It is. briefly, a bold range of deeply divided mountains
carved by the ice-sheet out of a once single block of granite and
about 15 miles in length, facing the ocean. The coast about it is a
sunken coast, a drowned coast as they say geologically, and is rich
in bays and islands formed by the flooding of the ancient surface.
Mount Desert Island has large bays. Frenchmans Bay and Blue-
Hill Bay, on its eastern and western sides, connecting on the north.
From the Avestern bay island-sheltered waterways, or thoroughfares
as they are called down there, extend unbrokenly to Penobscot Bay
and River, 40 miles away, so that Champlain, when he was guided
up the river by the Indians in 1004. after visiting the Mount Desert
Island, described the latter as a headland at the river's mouth. The
south side of the island faces the open ocean and you get magnificent
displays of surf there.
I dwell on that feature of the sheltered bays and waterways because
I feel it will play an exceedingly important part hereafter in the
usefulness of the area as a park. These waters are all nationally
owned, lying within the 3-mile limit, and can be used freely in
connection with the park for house-boating, sailing, canoeing, fishing,
bathing, and all kinds of water sports to a practically unlimited
Deep valleys separate the mountains, extending at one point be-
low the level of the sea. so that the island is penetrated at its center
by what is called Somes Sound, the only true glacial fiord we have
on our coast. It extends inland some 8 miles and nearly divides the
island into two. Mr. Franklin Roosevelt, the Assistant Secretary of
the Xavy, told me he had taken a destroyer up that sound and turned
it on a single circuit without backing, which he thought was re-
markable as exhibiting its depth.
Mr. Peters: Mr. Chairman, as showing the depth of that sound,
there are granite quarries on the western side and a large 3-mastecl
granite schooner came up there at one time and was sunk in the
sound, and the schooner was in no way visible afterward because the
water was so deep.
MOUNT DESERT NATIONAL PARK. 9
Mr. Dorr. It would make a submarine base, incidentally, as im-
pregnable as that on the Dalmatian Coast at Cattaro, which the
Austrians have made such use of in the present war, and the scenery
on entering it is equall}' magnificent. This picture [indicating] was
taken from one of the moun1:ains that border it and which has been
lately added to the park. It shows the entrance to the sound and
the splendid harbor, island-sheltered, into which it opens [indicat-
ing]. This mountain has been named by the Government Acadia
Mountain, all of this region having formed part of the early French
Province of Acadia. The whole fiord forms a wonderful exhibit of
ancient volcanism and recent glacial erosion. The cliffs are very
bold: the water deep.
Nearly all of the other valleys eroded by the ice in its slow south-
ward movement are filled with lakes, this [indicating] is where
we get our water for Bar Harbor. We have magnificent water sup-
plies, both lakes and springs.
The bases of these mountains and their lower slopes are clothed
with forest. The earlv summer ownership upon the island resulted
in saving primeval forest growths Avhich could hardly be matched
elsewdierc on the Xew England coast, stripped generally for its ease
With regard to wild flowers, I here submit a statement from Prof.
Fernald. Chairman of the Botanical Faculty at Harvard. It is the
best single area he knows for preserving and exhibiting in a wide
ra^^S'e tho'^e of the northeastern section of the country.
With regard to birds. Mr. Forbush. the State ornithologist of Mas-
sachusetts, who made a study of it for us, says in a statement I submit
also that the opportunity it" offers is extraordinary, and I submit be-
sides a letter from Mr. Pearson, secretary of the National Association
of Audubon Societies, which says that in all the years their association
has been engaged in seeking to establish refuges or sanctuaries for
wild bird life no area in the East of such importance to wild life,
bird or other, has been set aside as sanctuary as that contained within
the borders of the Sieur de Monts National Monument.
Mr. McClintic. ^Ir. Dorr, speaking of bird life, do yon mean by
that that it is a suitable place for the ducks that come up there from
the South in the spring?
Mr. Dorr. Certain favorable waters there used to be black with
them in the spring and fall. This tract here [indicating on map] is
the one we are securing expressly for the protection of these migrat-
Mr. McClintic. Is this appropriate ground for wild ducks and
Mr. Dorr. Yes : it used to be covered with them in their season.
Mr. McClintic. Let me ask you. how warm does it get there in the
summer time in comparison with other sections of the United States?
Mr. Dorr. It has a relatively even temperature on account of the
ocean. During summer we have cool nights and warm sunshine in
the day, but the air is always stimulating and bracing.
Mr. McClixtic. How long are the summers?
Mr. Dorr. Plant growth there begins actively toward the end of
April, about a fortnight later than m Massachusetts.
Mr. McClixtic. When does the bathing season close up there?
10 MOUNT DESEBT NATIONAL PARK.
Mr. Dorr. I hiive been in bathino; there in December.
Mr. Peters. I do not know of anybody else who woukl want to o;o
m at that time.
Mr. McCeintic. Are there any large cities in close proximity to
this area 'i
Mr. Dorr. Bangor is the nearest. But this park wonld be used
principally by people from beyond the State, not by Maine people.
I went there myself from Boston as a boy. My father bought some
land there then, on part of which we built a summer home and part
of which has noAv been donated to the Government.
The friends I have made there have come from the whole country
to the eastward of the Rockies, from New Orleans, from St. Louis,
from Cincinnati and Chicago, and largely from the South. We
used to have a number of Kichmond people and Confederate service
officers and their families there regularly at one time, and many
people come there ahvays from AVashington and Baltimore, from
Philadelphia and New York. It is a place of national resort, not
in any sense a local area.
Mr. McClintic. Is the surrounding country pretty thickly settled i
Mr. Dorr. It is an agTicultural country, largely w^ooded still,
where farming and market gardening are being gradually developed
to supply the people who come to the shore in summer. The hay
jDroduction is large, that of the State being the second greatest of
any in the country, I believe: a little farther south lies the corn