Bar Harbor, Maine Near Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor is a popular summer resort town and cruise ship destination that serves as the gateway to Acadia National Park. It is the home of many hotels and other lodgings, restaurants and bars, boutique shopping and ocean excursions such as whale watching and sea-kayaking. It is also known for its land bridge to Bar Island which is accessible by foot at low tide.

Facts About the Town

When was Bar Harbor established? It was established in 1796 as Eden, named after English statesman Sir Richard Eden. The incorporation document was signed by Samuel Adams. The town’s name was changed in 1918.

How big is Bar Harbor? It is approximately 63 square miles. Approximately 42 square miles are land and around 21 square miles are water. Obviously, there is more land at low tide when the land bridge

What is the population of Bar Harbor? During the summer, there are approximately 18,000 people living in Bar Harbor. A total of around 5000 people live in Bar Harbor year round.

Early Settlement

European settlers came to the island well before Bar Harbor was settled. A French Jesuit expedition in 1613 started a settleement on Somes Sound but an English attack caused them to abandon it. Bar Harbor was first settled by the Higgins, Thomas and Eden families. It became known for its fisherman, shipbuilders and lumberjacks. It was established in 1796 as Eden, named after English statesman Sir Richard Eden.

The Fire of 1947

1947 became known as the year Maine burned because of 200 fires during a drought in October 1947. Among them was a fire that started in a cranberry bog near Bar Harbor which burned for more than a week. It destroyed nearly all of the mansions on Millionaire’s Row in Bar Harbor and half of Acadia national Park. The business district of Bar Harbor was saved by shifting winds and a team of firefighters aided by hydrants. The fire is also responsible for Maine’s brilliant autumn colors, as the spruce and fir stands that burned were replaced with birch, aspen and oak trees producing a brilliant red and yellow autumn.

Cruise Ships

Bar Harbor is the state’s top port, with more than 150 cruise ships bringing more than 200,000 passengers a year. A large cruise ship can drop off nearly the entire year-round population of the town for a day’s excursion. Due to the lack of a local pier where they can dock, passwngers are currently ferried to land by small boats for fun such as a trip to Cadillac Mountain, a whale watch or a lobster roll.

Bar Island Land Bridge