Acadia National Park: Schoodic Point, Maine

September 13, 2016.kirkleavy@gmail.com.2 Likes.0 Comments

Compared to other national parks, Acadia National Park is relatively small at only 76 square miles. Like all national parks, it has a number of unique features within its protected area. You can wade through tide pools, bike or hike Carriage Roads or climb the highest mountain (Cadillac Mountain at 1,530′) on the eastern seaboard. All in the same day!

After exploring some of the more popular spots in the park, we wanted something different. Something a little off the beaten path and where tourists busses don’t venture.

We found it across Mount Desert Narrows near Winter Harbor, Maine.

This will give you an idea of the region, the red locator pinned on Winter Harbor.
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This is the area covered by the national park and Winter Harbor is located across the Narrows from Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor. Our camp in Trenton, Maine (top left of map) was about an hour drive through some gorgeous fall countryside.

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The goal of this trip was to visit a remote section of the park located east of Mount Desert Island across the Narrows on the Schoodic Peninsula.

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On our way to Schoodic we passed through the quaint little town of Winter Harbor. This is a charming little fishing community, and as you can see by the photo taken by professional photographer Greg Hartford, it’s all about lobster!

I failed to get a photo so I contacted Greg and he kindly agreed to let me use his photo. His is much better than mine would’ve been anyway and he’s got a bunch more Acadia photos I recommend you check out at Acadia Magic.

Winter Harbor, Maine (photo credit Greg A. Hartford, Acadia Magic http://www.acadiamagic.com/artist.html and http://www.acadiamagic.com/winter-harbor-maine.htm

Winter Harbor, Maine (photo credit Greg A. Hartford, Acadia Magic http://www.acadiamagic.com/artist.html and http://www.acadiamagic.com/winter-harbor-maine.htm

Further down the road is the entrance to the park and the Schoodic Point Visitors Center.  Its a brand new facility complete with campground, uber-clean restrooms, and knowledgeable park rangers.

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The most interesting part for me was what is now the Schoodic Institute. The institute was created in 2004 after the Navy turned the facility over to the park to advance ecosystem science and learning for all ages. The building, known as Rockefeller Hall, was built by the National Park Service in the early 1930s in exchange for the Navy moving a radio listening post that it had constructed on Mount Desert Island. John D. Rockefeller Jr., one of Acadia’s major benefactors, was instrumental in brokering this deal because he wanted to build a road along the MDI shore for visitors. The Navy agreed to his request and the facility was constructed, at Rockefeller’s expense near Schoodic Point, using the same architect Rockefeller used for the Carriage Houses and bridges. It’s striking architecture.

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Here’s the cool part. For nearly 70 years, the Navy secretly used this building for monitoring encrypted enemy communications and intelligence gathering during World War II and the Cold War. You can read more about its history on the Cold War Relics website.

At the time, state-of-the-art for worldwide communications monitoring was the Wullenweber Antenna Array, and was located some 12 miles away. Technology improvements prompted the Navy to shut the base down and hand it over to the National Park Service in 2002. The antenna array has since been dismantled and repurposed into an commercial aquaculture farm.

Wullenweber Antenna Array (photo credit Cold War Relics, http://coldwarrelics.com/winter_harbor_nsga

Wullenweber Antenna Array (photo credit Cold War Relics, http://coldwarrelics.com/winter_harbor_nsga)

The area itself is extraordinarily beautiful with its unique geological formations and views across the Narrows of Mount Desert Island and Cadillac Mountain.

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THE ROAD TO FIND OUT trips are never complete until we try out the local eateries, and this trip was no different. The Wrinkled Pickle is the name of the restaurant and the name of their featured appetizer. Oddly, they were out of wrinkled pickles that afternoon. I don’t make this stuff up, I just report the facts.

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