The first national park east of the Mississippi River, the first anywhere along the coastline of America, and the only national park created from private land donations, Acadia National Park began in 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument. Three years later when the monument achieved park status, its new name Lafayette National Park also honored the area’s French heritage.
The park was shepherded into existence by three men, who each summered in a different town on Mount Desert Island. George B. Dorr of Bar Harbor did much of the political maneuvering, and served as the park’s first superintendent until his death in 1946.
George W. Eliot of Northeast Harbor, retired president of Harvard University, provided the philosophical inspiration; and money man John D. Rockefeller, Jr., of Seal Harbor, donated over 11,000 acres of land (almost one-third of the park) including its best-known stretch of coast along the Ocean Drive.
Today Acadia National Park consists of some 49,000+ acres, one-quarter of which include privately owned land under conservation easements managed by the National Park Service. Most of the park lies on Mount Desert Island, but Acadia also includes 5,000 acres in two other sections on Isle au Haut and the Schoodic Peninsula.