Carriage Roads and Bridges

A way to avoid the tourists and fall foliage peepers In Acadia National Park is to hit the 57 miles of Carriage Roads that rise and weave throughout the National Park. It was easy to find peace away from the crowded Jordan House area because anything requiring hiking on a slight rise really thins out the masses.

The Carriage Roads where a gift from philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and were constructed from 1913 to 1940. The roads were designed and built to fit the lay of the land and meant for taking your time and enjoying the journey. These roads were never built for the automobile in mind and to this day you can only travel by foot, tire, or hoof.

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Walking on a Carriage Road in the fall was certainly one of the highlights of my trip.

Rockefeller also financed 16 out of the 17 stone-faced bridges. I was heading out early from Jordan Pond to sketch the oldest bridge on the Carriage Road system: Cobblestone Bridge which was completely in 1917.

Less then a mile on the well marked Carriage Roads, I came to the first bridge ever built in the road system. It is different than most of the other 16 bridges in that it is faced in cobblestone, in an attempt to fit into it’s stream-spanning location. I found a streamside rock on Jordan Creek and started to sketch.

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I loved sketching the textures of this bridge. I also loved sketching in my Stillman & Birn Delta Series watercolor journal. I normally don’t like spiral sketchbooks because of their lack of ruggedness for the trials of travel but this this book held up well.

I headed back to the Jordan Pond area, where a good confluence of Carriage Roads exist, and I hiked out to look at two other bridges. I sketched one of them, the Cliffside Bridge which was completed the year my father was born, 1932. This 230 foot bridge is an arch above a ravine and standing above the arch gives way to a beautiful fall foliage panorama.

Cliffside

I drove to another trailhead and another carriage road system to see and sketch two more bridges. The first bridge I came to was the Hemlock Bridge (1924) and then I came to the appropriately named Waterfall Bridge (1925) because it’s arch frames a forty foot waterfall. This bridge I sketched in my smaller Aquabook.

Waterfall bridge

Waterfall Bridge in my smaller Aquabook.

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