Compass Harbor

Wednesday I had a stuffy day, full of stuffy doctors’ offices stuffed with sick people and lab tests, so when the end of the day rolled around, I took a walk.

Compass Harbor was the home of George Dorr, Acadia National Park’s first superintendent and the “Father of Acadia”. Dorr Mountain looms over the foundations of the house that are all that’s left from the Great Fire, and the stone stairs that sweep down to the ocean. Huge trees have grown up along the easy walk from Rte. 3 to the Harbor, including many exotic escapees from the formal gardens that once surrounded the estate.

I walked down the trail (you can’t really call it hiking) all the way to the point, and the view down Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands. Bald Porcupine boasts a 2,500′ breakwater that protects the harbor from southern storms. Local legend has it that J. P. Morgan paid for the Army Corp of Engineers to build it in 1918, to keep his 340′ yacht “Corsair” from rocking too much during cocktail hour. Meanwhile, George Dorr was building “Dorr’s Swimming Pool” – a much more modest project that still involved several tons of cut square blocks of granite. The walls enclosed a shallow part of the harbor with a sandy beach, so that his caretaker’s children could paddle safely in the warmer water no matter what the tide. You can still see the blocks, forced apart now by storms, and the little beach. Somehow the unseasonably balmy day and the setting sun gave the rich man’s project a little glow of affection; lessened the annoying overlay of privilege and exposed the huge, ruined, expensive project as a passing gift from an old man to someone else’s children.

1 thought on “Compass Harbor

  1. In one of my previous lives, © 1980, at the campground near the Mayan ruins of Palenque, I met a young, seemingly privileged, sailing-oriented couple named Greg and Susan? Dorr who had roots in Maine. Every time I see the Dorr name re: building of Acadia, I wonder if those two are related to him and living somewhere nearby….not that I would recognize them now in any case. Lifetimes ago.

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