Somesville, Maine, the oldest settlement on Mount Desert Island (dating from 1761), is a picturesque little village located at the northern end of Somes Sound - once referred to as a fjord but now is categorized as a "fjard." Somesville is actually not a township at all but part of the municipality of Mount Desert, Maine, whose office is located in Northeast Harbor. There is gorgeous scenery here year round including beautiful views of Somes Sound, its inlets, and the mountains to the east. The Acadia Repertory Theatre (207) 244-7260 is one of its main attractions. Acadia National Park is close by to the east and south.
GPS Coordinates: Latitude 44.368893; Longitude -68.330675
One of the most recognized and photographed man made structures on Mount Desert Island is the arched wooden foot bridge in Somesville that sits next to the historic Selectmen’s Building - C. 1780. The bridge stands out so much that the view on the opposite side of the road, revealing Somes Harbor with Cadillac Mountain as the backdrop, can sometimes be missed. Also, take note of the road that goes off before and after the bridge on the same side of the road. The one on the north side goes to an access point on Somes Pond. The one on the South side will go by it on the South side. More importantly, before this point is a road on the left that leads to a trail that goes to Beech Mountain next to Echo Lake.
Somesville and Somes Sound played a significant role in the settlement history of Mount Desert Island. As mentioned in other postings on AcadiaMagic.com, the French Explorer Samuel de Champlain had to winter in Otter Cove after his ship was damaged in 1604 by a submerged rock thought to be what is now called the Spindle near Otter Cliff. Long before this, Native Americans were crossing over from the mainland to MDI to fish and gather. But, the first European styled settlement began when Abraham Somes, his wife, Hannah Herrick, and the Richardson family, came here in 1761 to start a new life. At that time, the land was still part of Massachusetts. Since this was also before the Revolutionary War of 1776, Britain was the main governing body.
Looking for the best place to begin the work of building their homes that would also provide ocean access and protection for the boats from the waves of the open sea, Abraham decided that the northern part of the fjard in the middle of Mount Desert Island was the ideal location. This first settlement was called Somesville in honor of Abraham and his family, and the fjard came to be known as Somes Sound. The wise decision to begin a settlement here greatly aided in the further development of the whole island. Abraham’s profession of Cooper, a master at building storage type wooden barrels, certainly helped in the trade that took place here as well.
It all began here
For many, Somesville may seem like a crossroads to get to where they are going. But it really should be more than this and certainly is when driving through on Route 102 when someone in the vehicle yells, “Stop!” Usually, this is because they just saw the white arched footbridge on the right that is so visually striking. Getting to know something about the history of this area is a key ingredient to appreciating what past people went through, and helps give us a sense of the layout of the land, and the sea. In the early days, people got here by foot, horse, wagon, or boat, and it took a long time. There were no roads. There were no markets to buy goods. There were no rooms to go freshen up in. Those early brave souls made it possible for us to enjoy this today. I am forever grateful, and in awe!