The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, beginning in 1888, constructed the man-made breakwater that extends 2,510 feet out from Bald Porcupine Island in order to protect Bar Harbor’s town piers and anchorages against storm surges from the south. By 1917, after some 382,000 tons of stone had been put into place at a cost of $385,000, the project was 88% completed, finished in length but not height, and then abandoned. “Remaining work [would consist] of placing final top stone over a section of the structure,” an official report states, mentioning that the project has been “inactive” for the last 90+ years. Inspections done from the early 1960s through the late 1970s have “indicated the breakwater to be in fair to good condition,” the report adds.
Fun Fact: A Bar Harbor legend holds that the money for the Breakwater was contributed by wealthy summer resident J. P. Morgan, who stayed in Frenchman Bay on a series of yachts that kept increasing in size until the fourth, which later became a cruise ship, was 343 feet long, the largest yacht ever built in the United States. Morgan, it’s said, wanted the breakwater in place to keep Corsair IV from rocking back and forth during the cocktail hour, which caused his guests to spill their drinks.