Friday, November 21, 2014

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

2 comments:

  1. This is odd, I just read about this incident in Steve Perrin's book last night, he didn't share many details but I was talking about it with my partner this morning and we guessed he must have been on the Precipice to fall so far.

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  2. Oh, was this in his TRAILS OF HISTORY book...

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