Biking Around Eagle Lake

A couple weeks ago I went to Bar Harbor with my friend Katie. My former student, web designer (see luannyetter.com) and consultant for all things techie, Katie is also quite frequently my partner in crime when it comes to travel adventures.

One of our adventures on this trip was a great bike ride around Acadia National Park’s Eagle Lake. From downtown Bar Harbor we were able to take the new and wonderful Island Explorer right to our bike path.

We  biked at a leisurely pace, and if truth be told, I sometimes walked my bike rather than pedaled. This had nothing to do with my lack of athletic ability of course, but simply gave me more time to contemplate Eagle Lake’s past…

Local residents called it Great Pond until landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church saw a couple of eagles there and gave the lake a nickname that stuck. In the late 1800s the Eagle Lake House graced the shore, but its tenure was short. When owner R.H. Mehesey ran into trouble for serving alcohol, the guest house changed hands but continued to suffer from a lack of steady patrons. In 1891 the Bar Harbor correspondent for the New York Times reported that the place had done “but a feeble and intermittent business this season.” It did, nevertheless, play host to a clam bake in September of that year. That turned out to be the last gathering ever held at the guest house because later that night fire destroyed the building.

A few years later local entrepreneur Edward Smith created a picnic area on the eastern side of the lake and rusticators could hire boats from either end to get to the remote spot. Also on Eagle Lake, by 1915,  was a private summer residence with the rather odd name of Kamp Kill Kare where Providence businessman Howard Sturges sometimes hosted dinner dances.

The liquor and music are long gone from Eagle Lake.  As part of Acadia, the area today is peaceful, completely undeveloped and closed to motorized vehicles. And so the popping of champagne corks from the Eagle Lake House or the strains of a live orchestra from Kamp Kill Kare were merely ghost sounds as we pedaled our way through the woods.

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About Luann Yetter

Luann Yetter is the author of Bar Habor in the Roaring Twenties, Portland's Past and Remembering Franklin County, all published by the History Press. She is a writing instructor at the University of Maine at Farmington. She has had a life-long interest in social history beginning with a steady diet of Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a little girl in the Midwest. She now lives in an 18th century house in a small town in Maine and loves to "time travel" when she writes.
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4 Responses to Biking Around Eagle Lake

  1. Scott Erb says:

    Just read through your Bar Harbor posts — interesting! That bike ride sounds great too!

  2. Luann Yetter says:

    Thanks! The bike ride was really pretty easy, no big hills. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun activity in Acadia.

  3. I’m the 2nd great granddaughter of Howard Sturges (that owned Kamp Kill Kare). I am wondering if there is any more information or photos about this house, the property, the family, etc. Where did you find your information?
    I also have a few old photographs that I recently acquired.I know that he eventually passed away there at the cottage in 1920.

  4. Luann Yetter says:

    The Mount Desert Historical Society provides free access to old newspapers from Bar Harbor. You can find them here: http://islandhistory.newspaperarchive.com/
    If you search key words “Kamp Kill Kare” and “Howard Sturges” you will come up with lots of fun mentions. I don’t know of any photos. If you are ever in Bar Harbor, you can try searching the archives of the Bar Harbor Historical Society. Easier searches can be done at the Mount Desert Island Historical Society and the Southwest Harbor Library because those collections are searchable on a data base (but unfortunately not online).
    Online the Maine Memory Network has some photos of Eagle Lake: https://www.mainememory.net/, but none of Kamp Kill Kare.
    I hope this helps!

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