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Down the Road
Good question. I still haven't found out.
But I have found out lots of other information about Green Mountain. Where's Green Mountain, you might ask if you're younger than 120.
I do know that one. It's on Mount Desert Island, second probably only to the ocean as Acadia National Park's major feature. Today it's called Cadillac Mountain.
You remember Cadillac, if you're a typical tourist. That's the final stop on your race around the 25-mile-long Park Loop Road on your way to a lobster dinner at a local restaurant. Let's face it, most tourists only come to Acadia for the lobster dinner and feeling duty-bound drive the Park Loop Road.
Speaking of which, quite a few have asked me over the years, "What's your favorite restaurant to eat lobster?"
Sometimes the wording varies, but it's the same question. Over and over and over.
My answer? "We live here. We don't eat lobster. We eat macaroni and cheese."
That wording may vary too, but it's the same answer.
Here's some real heresy. the answer I'd like to give. "I don't eat lobster. Why would I want to eat something that makes its living by eating garbage off the ocean floor?"
But despite that fascinating bit of trivia you probably don't care to read, this piece is not about lobster.
It's about Green Mountain.
I've known its older name for years, but being an ancient investigative reporter, I asked the Mount Desert Island Historical Society what they knew about it. From the documents Tim Garrity, the executive director of the Historical Society, sent, I've learned that way back in the early 1800s it was called Bauld Mountain, obviously because it hasn't -- nor had then -- trees on top so is bald. (I like our spelling better.)
A bit later it was called Newport, perhaps named after another place of ocean wealth that well-heeled New Yorkers also loved to visit.
But Green Mountain. No one seems to know where that name originated. I have a suspicion it may be similar to the origin of Norumbega Mountain's older name, Brown Mountain.
This is only hearsay, but I understand a guy named Brown owned what Acadia National Park later dubbed Norumbega and the land around it, or at least a good bit of the land on it and around it. So it was known as Brown Mountain.
I am guessing that Green Mountain got its name the same way, some guy named Green owned it and the land around it or a lot of the land on it and around it.
Why the "guy" who likely owned it and not the "gal?" You know as well as do I that it wasn't until a bit later in our history that women became appreciated and not just named as part of some guy's family. It took more modern guys like me to appreciate women, for....well, you know...beginning with Dolores. Oops, my mother was a woman too. I appreciated her.
I just want you to know that I also appreciate women for what they have done and can do. For example, Dr. Molly Collins, a surgeon who removed a melanoma from my back is a woman and a skillful one. Saved my life. A few years later, she removed a harmless skin cancer from one of my ears. Her nurse, also a woman whose name I don't recall, was dedicated and good at her profession. While Dr. Collins was whittling, the nurse attempted to give Dolores and I a stray cat her family had taken in to their home. I always appreciate medical folk, even men, who take your mind off what they're doing to you by such devious means as attempting to give you a cat.
Anyhow, in 1918 the National Park Service renamed the island's highest mountain Cadillac, because "it was more appropriate," according to the pages the MDI Historical Society e-mailed me.
Samuel Eliot Morison, a long-time historian and summer visitor to the island, insisted it was Green Mountain. He wrote in a 1930 essay that it was "absurdly called Cadillac." In 1931, according to the documents e-mailed me, the Bar Harbor Times reported that 98% of some 200 respondents preferred Green Mountain.
But you know the Feds. The then Secretary of the Interior informed Morison that local people were tired of wisecracking tourists asking, "Where are Chevrolet, Ford, and Packard Mountains?"
Hey, how should we know where they are? What's that matter?
The material that arrived on my computer moved on to who first climbed Green Mountain. Pretty obvious, those Native Americans who were living there and eventually eliminated by various and sundry nations -- England and France -- and the wealthy summer folk who eventually took over the island for the fun of it. These wealthy summer folk, "rusticators" by brag of locals who know that handle, climbed it. Of course, the Native Americans wanted to see land features they needed to see, so they climbed it by the easier routes, the north ridge, most likely.
No the North Ridge Trail didn't exist then, nor did the Island Explorer buses that will deposit you and your modern hiking boots and stick at the trailhead to that moderate 2.2 (I believe)-long trail. That's the trail I recommend to most tourists, because it is a lot easier than the steep east and west ascents.
Actually, when tourists ask me which trail is easiest, I generally glance at their feet. If they're wearing sandals, I tell them there are no trails. Go take one of the two tourist buses up Cadillac.
I best remember the North Ridge Trail for a November walk I took up it and came to a very thin layer of ice on a slanted boulder (called slab rock by those insiders who know this stuff). Of course, I didn't notice the ice until I found myself sliding on one of my ends down the boulder. You've heard of glare ice? This was *@#%&@ ice. (The spelling may not be totally correct, but it uses the letters available on my keyboard.)
Sometime in the 1880s, some guys built a cog railway to the top of Green Mountain, which took well-heeled folk up to the Summit House hotel. I forget where I read or dreamed that the railroad builders got the idea from the Mount Washington Cog Railroad, and after the Green Mountain Railroad's demise a couple of its engines were taken to New Hampshire and used on that much higher railroad.
The rails were dismantled and removed. The hotel fell into hard times when an owner became involved in some kind of suspicious financial dealings. Eventually the hotel caught fire, not once but twice, and by 1894 wasn't serving any real purpose, according to the MDI Historical Society documents. It was taken down.
The novel was published again in 1985 by Acadia Publishing Company, which is listed in today's yellow pages at 55 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor 04609.
In part of that novel, a group rides a buckboard or other type of wagon* out what appears to have been the Crooked Road and on to Somesville. Their trip back to Bar Harbor was via Eagle Lake Road, now Route 233.**
I also learned from a chance comment in the book that apparently in 1887 the bridge to Trenton, the mainland, was in place, although cars were not on the island.*** I didn't learn from the book where "The Ovens" were located. These are depicted by a painting on the cover. Suzanne Mitchell, a resident of Salisbury Cove using the library, came to the library phone and said The Ovens are in Salisbury Cove. Go there at low tide, because the base of the cliffs floods at high tide, says Mitchell.
If you want to read a copy, go to the Jessup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor and borrow their copy. Or check your recycling center. I phoned Acadia Publishing Company and learned that it has been out of print for "a long time."
A lot of credit here goes to the Mount Desert Island Historical Society via e-mail sent to Tim Garrity and passed along to me containing stuff I had maybe heard or dreamed but the society had in print. (Although I don't see his name attached to any of the material below, somewhere Garrity mentioned Paul Richardson, a historian who I used to know slightly back in the day when I covered "the park" for a local paper.) I've eliminated a couple of e-mail addresses from this material in case they don't want to be blamed and e-mailed for what I write.****
Not all I know about Green Mountain is historical. Once in awhile I take one of our buses up there and have fun coming down again in low gear, explaining to the passengers that they shouldn't worry because the buses go up the mountain just fine.
I also explain to the tourists how each year Green Mountain, aka Cadillac, is getting lower due to all the buses and RVs parking on top. I also am sure to tell them that, although the mountain by whatever name is getting lower, the trails are getting steeper.
I know that from first-foot experience.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at email@example.com.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2011
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