The 187-acre Jordan Pond, second-largest body of water in Acadia National Park (after Eagle Lake), is also the park’s deepest, dropping to 150 feet. The pond sits in a U-shaped valley underneath steep cliffs— evidence of glacial carving. Like Acadia’s other two ponds that go deeper than 70 feet, Jordan Pond is the water supply for a nearby town (Jordan Pond/ Seal Harbor, Eagle Lake/ Bar Harbor, Long Pond/ Southwest Harbor), and because of this, swimming is not allowed.
The Jordan Pond area is Acadia’s true crossroads, where for more than 125 years the Jordan Pond House property has anchored a network of roads, carriage roads, and hiking trails. The national park’s Wildwood Stables, which provide visitors with a variety of carriage rides, also are nearby. The Pond House, the only restaurant in the national park, takes its name of course from the pond. The pond was named for George and John Jordan of nearby Seal Harbor, who built a farmhouse, dam, and sawmill at its south end in 1847.
In 1864, Melvan Tibbetts bought the house and began renting boats and canoes to visitors, then in 1888 he began serving food. Even before that Jordan Pond was a popular picnic site; its view north to the two small mountains called the Bubbles is rivaled on Mount Desert Island only by the panoramas available at the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
Thomas and Nellie McIntire made the Jordan Pond House an island tradition after they took over in 1895, and remained in charge for the next 50 years. By then the redesigned Pond House restaurant, with its massive fieldstone fireplaces and birch bark wallpaper, had become world famous. She added popovers and homemade ice cream to the menu, while he, a skilled carpenter born on Prince Edward Island, worked hard to keep the place going.
To protect the property, summer resident John D. Rockefeller, Jr. bought the Jordan Pond House and presented it to the National Park Service in 1940. From 1946 until 2013 the restaurant was run by the locally owned Acadia Corporation, a park concessionaire that also operates gift shops at Thunder Hole and atop Cadillac Mountain.
The famous Fire of ‘47 had spared the Jordan Pond House. Unfortunately, in June 1979 the building caught fire and quickly burned to the ground. (Birch bark is not a highly rated flame retardant.) After some discussion about whether it should be rebuilt, tradition won the day, and following a round of private funding, the current Pond House opened in 1982.