Friday, November 21, 2014

THE GREEN MOUNTAIN RAILROAD PATH

Once upon a time, as the children's story goes, "There was a little train that could."  Well, in the 1800's there was just such a train, and it was called the Green Mountain Railway.  It was a small cog train that ran from one end of Eagle Lake up to the summit of green Mountain- renamed later to Cadillac Mountain.  The company would go bankrupt and the rails and tracks were torn up and sold, but the railroad spikes had to remain in place because they had been driven so deep into the granite of Cadillac Mountain they could not be removed.  And though accounts state all of the rail was removed, this is not the case, one sole section of rail remains in place on the side of Cadillac Mountain.  The path the train took remained very popular with hikers for many years after that, until it was abandoned by the park.
Cadillac Mountain - Green Mountain Railroad Path - Acadia National Park


The Green Mountain Railroad - Acadia National Park

  It took me a few years of searching for it off and on, and one afternoon we ended up tripping over a railroad spike in the brush.  That's how I located it, anyways.  One big problem was that on Google Books, one account states it knows the location of the lost trail, and than goes on to give the wrong  information. 
Once the railroad company went out of business, and all but one section of rail was removed, people still  hiked along the train route to reach the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  It was treated for many years there after as if it had been an official trail.  But over the years the wide path through the woods and up the mountain side slowly began to become overgrown, and partly through park efforts, branches and tree limbs found their way onto the trail, so the once popular hiking route began to fade away.  Amazingly, after all these years of neglect, the trail is still in pretty good condition, marked along much of the route by railroad spikes sticking up out of the granite.  The trail is easiest to locate along the Park loop road, and begins in the woods on a knoll about half way between the Cadillac Summit Road and Bubble Pond.  On a calm day you can hear the rushing waters of a nearby stream.


The Green Mountain Railroad - Acadia National Park

Once in the woods and up the knoll, the path is at an angle to the left, there is usually a tiny rock pile by a railroad spike, and the ground there will be worn down as it leads up into the woods.  There are very few railroad spikes on this end, but there should be a rock pile here and there, and the further you go the more worn the trail becomes.  At a couple places the trail may seem to end, just keep in mind for the most part, the train tracks ran in a straight line, turning direction only once, so if the trail seems to end at a tree or two, simply look on the other side of the tree's, and the trail will be right there.
Now there is one spot o the lower end where there is a section of brush you have to cross, walk straight ahead in the same direction you were walking.  Not far ahead of this section is one of the surprises you will come upon - a section of railroad bed built up along a rising cliff.  Once you get there, the trail is really easy to follow because now more and more railroad spikes can be seen.  It is also at this point the trail begins to get very slippery in places - I suggest you wear something with good footing.  The granite is covered with moss made slippery from over flowing waters from a nearby brook.  The Trail also begins to climb more here.  Up through and under some tree's, and your not far from the next surprise.




The surprise is walking through a line of tree's and suddenly seeing that lovely piece of rail that is still on the mountain side.  At this point everywhere you look you see piles of rusting railroad spikes, the few they did manage to remove, and than simply left behind in small piles.
Here the trail slopes upward some more, and at first the granite appears to be safe to cross - but in all the times I have hiked this trail, this area is more slippery than any before it.    From here the trail enters and exits the woods a few more times, before the granite gives way to dirt, and the trail is very easy to follow without the aid of spikes.  But just when you think things are going to good, the trail suddenly ends by thick brush and woods.  Clearly the brush has grown up over the trail here and it can't be seen again.  At this point your not very far from the Cadillac Mountain Summit road - either walk straight ahead for a short ways until you come to the summit road, or wait until you hear a passing car and walk toward its sound.
Cadillac Mountain Railroad Spikes - Acadia national Park
At this point you can either go right and follow the summit road a short distance to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, or turn and head left down the summit road to the park loop road.  Once at the park loop road, turn left, and head for the second pull over where you parked.



They say the hike is a moderate one, and I would agree, I would also warn anyone attempting it that the trail can be very slippery in places and I know of one hiker who slipped and banged up their knee. 
In days gone by, the train went beyond this point, not much beyond, to where a tavern was located on the summit.

Green Mountain Railroad Trail - Acadia National Park



The bottom section has now also been located, though its no way close as scenic as the upper portion.  It is however well hidden.  We located the beginning point of the lower section by crossing the Park Loop Road and making our way down the embankment directly across from knoll where the upper section begins.  You only need to go down into the brush a short ways not far from that stream to locate a gully, if you follow the gully you will soon discover railroad spikes as you make your way down toward Eagle Lake and its carriage road.   At the start of the gully we found several fallen tree's and branches, but walked around that first section and went down into the gully.  We followed it down hill and came upon a number of places where we found old railroad spikes sticking up out of the granite.  At one point the gully comes closer to a nearby stream and we crossed over to it and found a nice little water fall.  The gully soon ends and from there you can see the eagle Lake carriage road, the lake, and just to the right a wooden bridge on the carriage road.
Sadly we found no evidence of railroad spikes near the lake edge, nor any sign of an old pier, but after searching for a long time, it was nice to finally be able to add the lower section to the upper section of this once very popular hiking trail.






VIDEO OF THE GREEN MOUNTAIN RAILROAD TRAIL 



 HISTORY OF THE GREEN MOUNTAIN RAILROAD


A DEATH ON NEWPORT MOUNTAIN

Back in 1853 there was no Acadia National Park here, and the town of Bar Harbor back than was called Eden.  But even back than locals made their way to the precipice on the side of Champlain Mountain, and made their way up to a popular spot on the side of the Precipice known as The Great Cave.  The cave was a popular picnic site.  In those days Champlain Mountain was named Newport Mountain.

The Precipice - Acadia National Park

Now if you have read about this tragic accident on here in the past, you will now find new information which I recently came upon from a man who is recalling the tragic accident 5o years later.  For the first time missing gaps have now been filled in on this story.
The date was Aug. 3, 1853  and wild blueberries were ripe for the picking.  The men and boys that day took off to do some fishing, and the women and girls decided to hike over in the direction of Newport (now named Champlain) Mountain to do some blueberry picking.  Two of the young girls in the group that day were Lucreatia K. Douglas, who was just shy of being 12 years old,  and Almira Conners, who were neighbors with Conners living  in the Zack Bijar Higgins house at Cromwell Harbor, not far from where the George B. Dorr estate was, and Miss Douglass living in the old house which was on the spot in which Gardiner Sherman first built his house.  Once up the side of Newport Mountain, the group had a picnic and than continued to look for blueberries.  The main group than started back down the mountain side, but the two girls remained behind, saying they wanted to continue to look for more blueberries.  At some point the two girls made their way close to the edge of a cliff, one account says  Lucreatia stepped upon a large boulder to see if she could see a relatives farmhouse below on Schooner Head Road, when  12 year old Almira Conners  climbed up on the boulder as well, and the huge boulder suddenly gave way.
The other account is that both girls spotted a patch of blueberries and raced toward them, not realizing just how close to the edge of the cliff they were, and both girls fell over the cliff.  It was a tragic accident regardless of which version took place, but I believe the first version might be correct, because a huge boulder was found on top of  Lucreatia K. Douglas body and had to be removed in order to get her body down off the mountain.
When I first  read of this accident it stated the other girl had been thrown off to the side with minor injures, but in this man's memory, he writes that while   Lucreatia had been crushed by a large boulder at the bottom of the cliff, a large tree spared the life of   Almira Conners , its branches catching her.  She did end up with a broken arm and a number of cuts and bruises and lay caught up in the tree top all that evening and night.
The following day, a farmer was out preparing to mow hay when he heard far off cries and went to investigate.  He was shocked when he arrived at the location and saw the figure of a young girl caught high up in the trees branches and went for help.

Lucreatia K. Douglass
For many years as I found out more and more about this accident on Newport Mountain, I had always thought the accident took place at the Great Cave or very close to it.  And books and articles talk about only one spot on the side of Newport Mountain where people went to for picnics, and that is the Great Cave.  And on an old map I came across once there was an X marked just above the Great Cave and stated, "Where the young girl fell to her death'"

Map of The Precipice - Acadia Nation al Park
The man recounts how the women returned back to compass Harbor, believing the two girls would soon show up.  As evening came on, than darkness, a search party was rounded up and headed out toward the area of the great Cave, but using touches, they were not able to find the girls.  They returned home and were about to go out the following morning when word reached them of the tragedy.                                          
The family of Lucreatia was poor and could not afford to purchase a headstone for their daughter, who lay in an unmarked grave for years between two churches along mount Desert Street in Bar Harbor Maine.  It was said that the family did go up near the spot where their daughter had died and placed a small wooden cross at the location.
In all the deaths in Acadia National Park that have taken place on the Precipice, this one is perhaps the safest for me, simply because the victim was only 12 years old, which also makes her the youngest person to have fallen to their death off the Precipice.
Lucreatia's brother did return back to town some years later and purchased a headstone for his sister, and the headstone tells part of the story of his sister's death.  That headstone is located between two churches in a tiny graveyard almost across the street from the Jesup Library on Mount Desert Street.


TRAGEDY ON NEWPORT MOUNTAIN video

DEATHS IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

STORY OF THE GREAT CAVE OF ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

The story of the Great Cave begins with the building of the Precipice Trail, designed and built by Rudolph Brunnow, a man who was famous for constructing difficult and challenging trails.  When faced with the prospect of constructing a trail up the side of the Precipice, he was faced with a real challenge, but one he readily took on.
But once the precipice was constructed, Rudolph Brunnow was faced with perhaps as big of a challenge as the building of the trail itself - how does one attract people to a trail that was on a less popular area of the Park?  The task now facing him was coming up with a way to do just that, and his plan involved building a series of trails in the area of the Precipice.


Acadia National Park Trail Map

Map of The Great Cave - Acadia National Park
Other supporting trails he built was the Orange and Black Trail, The Beehive trail, the Murry Lane Path, and the red Trail, today renamed the Schooner Head Trail.  But he still needed a main attraction, and thus he seeked permission and got it to construct a loop trail up to the Great Cave.  The Great Cave loop began around the same area where the Orange and black trail connect to the Precipice Trail today.  It follows a boulder field upward toward the woods, and just inside the woods the well worn Trail continues up to the entrance of the Great Cave.
Great Cave Steps, submitted by Nick Thorndike

Off to one side of the cave, and you do have to look for it, is a hidden stairway leading up above the cave, where it comes to cliffs.  There is a metal bridge and iron hand rails to help you along the narrow cliffs, and the loop ends at the base of where the Ladders begin up the official precipice Trail.
It was David Schortmann who went out and located and documented the Great Cave, he had found half of the missing Great Cave Loop, and I wrote how we now need some one to locate the other half of the loop.  Not long after I was contacted by Nick Thorndike, who had discovered the nearly hidden stairway and send me a photo of it.  So we now had the complete Great Cave Trail documented.  The finishing touch came when I got an email from Zhanna Galas who went up and got us the GPS numbers for the site.


The Great Cave - Acadia National Park
  As you can see, like minded adventurers play a key role in uncovering some of these abandoned trails, and for them we are very thankful, because without their efforts some of these trails would remain lost to this day.  Not in this book nor on the website do we name everyone because for various reasons some do not want their name made public, so rather we know their names or not, we own them a big thank you.


ABANDONED GREAT CAVE OF ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
The above photo was submitted to one of my sites on the Great Cave by David Schortmann.
Rudolph Brunnow was a master trail builder, as anyone who has climbed or walked his trails will attest to. 
But he never could of seen the day coming, long after his death, that the Park Service would take aggressive moves and close down some of his greatest works.  The Great Cave Loop trail was abandoned, as was a nearby other trail he constructed.  Nearly half the Orange and black trail was also abandoned and the Schooner Head road red trail was also abandoned.  Rudolph Brunnow had plans to extend the red Trail from Schooner head up to the area of sand beach, to connect it to the Ocean shore path - for whatever reason those plans never came to be.


THE GREAT CAVE - ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
The above photo was submitted to one of my sites on the Great Cave by David Schortmann.
In an old book at the COA I came across a piece on the Great cave, way back when I first began to search for its location.  It stated the Great cave was one of the worlds great wonders, and that the mouth of the cave was 100 feet high and 100 feet wide, and ran about 100 feet back into the mountain side.  The piece went on to say the cave was so large one could fit a plane inside it, which if true would really make for a really Great cave.  Perhaps one could fit a plane inside the Great cave, providing one carried it up there in pieces.  Not to say that the cave isn't great, because everyone who has been to it agree, it is indeed a Great cave and worth the hike.
It is worth noting that even though the Great cave no longer appears on trail maps, it is still very much there.  As trails are abandoned, the park service asks map makers to remove them from future maps, thus todays maps do not show abandoned sites like the Great Cave, Anemone Cave, The Bear's Den, the Hanging Steps, the Gurnee trail and other abandoned sites.

GPS for The Great Cave
Talus Slope along Precipice Trail
44.349697 - 68.189670
Split with Official Precipice Trail
44.349656 - 68.189792
First Sign of Trail in woods
44.349473 - 68.190019
Stone Steps to Cave
44.349164 - 68.190296
The great Cave
44.349101 - 68.190362
(supplied by Zhanna Galas)


To learn more about the Great cave, visit one of the links below.

LOST AND ABANDONED TRAILS OF ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

DEATHS IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

LEAVE THE WORLD BELOW