A conventional tourist activity in Acadia National Park is to witness the sunrise from atop Mount Cadillac, which claims to be the highest point on the U.S. east coast and therefore the first place where the sun’s rays touch the nation every morning. Dozens, sometimes hundreds, of park visitors drive up the mountain before dawn to be the first to see the sunrise.
In the 1960s those who made the effort to witness this spectacle could become certified members in the “Sunrise-From-Mount-Cadillac Club.” A tourist brochure from 1961 that I found in the archive collection of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society includes an application for membership in this elite organization. The application explains, “It is claimed that those who are on the Summit of Cadillac Mountain at Sunrise are the first in America to see the sun rise that day. Those who have witnessed the impressive event can lay claim to be the first in America to see the sun on that day, and are entitled to membership in the Sunrise-From-Mount-Cadillac Club.” To gain membership, applicants had to secure signatures from the proprietor of their place of lodging and from the Harbor Master at Bar Harbor.
It appears the club never met and probably did not last more than a season or two, amounting to little more than a publicity exercise by the Bar Harbor Times Publishing Company. But climbing up Mount Cadillac before dawn didn’t need publicity, then or now. It’s a favorite highlight of the Acadian experience (although the claim of “first light” is not always accurate).
We never made it to the Mount Cadillac sunrise event during our visit to Acadia National Park. We opted instead for a different trope of tourists everywhere, the “off-the-beaten-path” strategy. Rather than following the pre-dawn crowds up the mountain, we headed for the Beech Mountain trail on the west side of the island at the end of the day. Our efforts were richly rewarded with solitude and a fabulous sunset.
[Daily post 022 of 260 in my year-long challenge.] ♨