Acadia National Park was first established as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916, by President Woodrow Wilson. But it was countless foresighted and stewardship-minded individuals at the turn of the 19th century that created the first eastern national park, recognizing its singular natural beauty and ecological value and the need to protect it in perpetuity.
At that time, the lands were owned by the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, an organization with a Maine state charter to hold and protect property for the public benefit. George B. Dorr, now known as the “father of Acadia,” led the effort to gain federal protection for what is now Acadia National Park, worked tirelessly to secure additional tracts of land for the park, and served for 25 years as the park’s first superintendent. Also recognized as park founders are Charles W. Eliot, the Harvard president who established the Trustees, and John D. Rockefeller Jr., who gave some 10,000 acres to Acadia and financed and directed the construction of the historic carriage roads, the Park Loop Road, and the gatehouses and other iconic buildings. Equally important to the creation of Acadia National Park are countless individuals, some known and some lost to history, who constructed Acadia’s historic system of footpaths and hiking trails, who labored on the carriage roads, and who generously gave properties they had purchased or inherited so they might be protected and enjoyed by all for generations to come.
The first national park created entirely by private donations of land, Acadia National Park is closely intertwined with the Maine coast communities that surround it and has always enjoyed strong support from private donors and volunteers who contribute their personal resources to improve and enhance it.