Visitors to Acadia National Park often don’t realize that when they drive off the mainland in Trenton, and out over the Mount Desert Narrows, they first cross another, smaller island before reaching Mount Desert Island.
Called Bark Island in the earliest records, today this island gets its name from Cornelius Thompson, a colonel of the militia in the Revolutionary War who took deeded possession of the area in the early 1790s. Thompson’s son William, born in Hulls Cove around the same time, settled on the island after adventures at sea and in the War of 1812.
In the 1830s, he began ferry service to Mount Desert Island (ten cents for foot passengers, 31 cents for horse and carriage, eight cents for cattle, three cents for sheep), and subsequently served in the corporation authorized by the state legislature to build the area’s first bridge in 1837.
The federal government bought the island in 1944. Today it mostly is occupied, on opposite sides of Route 3, by an information center for the national park (open mid-May to mid-October) and a picnic area.