The Best Example of Broken-Stone Roads in America Today

Park benefactor John D. Rockefeller Jr. was an expert rider who wanted to travel the interior of Mount Desert Island on horseback while not being bothered by horseless carriages. From 1913 to 1940 his road crews constructed 57 miles of carriage roads (45 miles in Acadia National Park) used today for non-motorized travel including walking or hiking, and riding bicycles, horses, or in carriages usually leased from Wildwood Stables. During the winter season, when weather cooperates, the carriage roads are also groomed for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing by a team of volunteer groomers.
Acadia’s carriage roads, about sixteen feet wide, have been called “the best example of broken-stone roads in America today.” Engineered to last through Maine winters, they were built with wide ditches, three layers of rock, and a six- to eight-inch crown that allows good drainage.
Rockefeller, who was involved with all aspects of the project including construction, aligned the roads to follow the contours of the land, and made sure they were not too steep for horse-drawn vehicles. He also financed sixteen of the seventeen bridges (steel-reinforced concrete, faced with native stone) that both decorate and support the road system. In his honor, the large granite coping stones lining the way have been called Rockefeller’s teeth.’
From 1992 to 1995, an extensive rehabilitation of the carriage road system — restoring road layers washed away over the years, reopening vistas long overgrown, improving drainage systems to prevent erosion — was financed by federal construction funds and matching private donations from Friends of Acadia. At the end of the project, Friends of Acadia also established an endowment that today continues to help protect and maintain the carriage roads.
The Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park