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Historical Materials

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Somes Sound

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Mount Desert "displays several U-shaped valleys, almost perfectly parallel and trending a bit east of south; Somes Sound, nearly dividing the island in two, is of particular interest because it is a fjord, a valley cut much deeper than sea level by a glacier that extended an unknown distance out to sea. The Valley was later filled by the sea when the meltwater from the wasting ice raised sea level to its present elevation."              

Abraham Somes is alleged to have made seasonal fishing trips to Somes Sound as early as 1755, though he did not begin the process of settlement until 1761. He removed his family through the Head of the Sound in 1762 and erected a sawmill. The Sound and the village bear his name. Through extended family kinships, the Somes family would be connected to the sawmill families of Flye of Union River and the Herrick's of Mount Desert, Sedgwick, and Penobscot.

– Mark Honey


Honey, Mark E, "King Pine, Queen Spruce, Jack Tar," An Intimate History of Lumbering on the Union River, Volumes 1-5.

Kendall, David L, "Glaciers & Granite," A Guide to Maine's Landscape and Geology, Downeast Books, Camden, 1987

Related tables: Bear Island »  //  Mount Desert Island & Rock »  //  Northeast Harbor »  //  Southwest Harbor »

CHART G, Penobscot Bay to Machias (detail of Southwest Harbor)
George W. Eldridge
Chart G
Charles G. Hutchinson, Publisher
Private Collection

George W. Eldridge was a Boston-based publisher of charts, pilot books, and tide tables for yachtsmen cruising in the New York–New England region. Detail of the Mount Desert portion of a much larger chart.

U.S. Coast Survey Chart: South West Harbor and Somes Sound
19 x 28 in.
Survey of the Coast of the United States, Washington, D.C.
View in Somes Sound
Thomas Cole
pencil, white highlights on blue paper
11 1/8 x 17 in
The Art Museum, Princeton University, gift of Frank Jewett Mather, Jr.
view ]
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.


Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."

The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (6) »

Also filed under: "Superior" (Sloop) »   //  Adams, Samuel, Jr. »   //  Biographical information »   //  Blue Hill »   //  Castine »   //  Chronology »   //  Diaries / Ledgers / Etc. »   //  Mount Desert Island & Rock »   //  Stevens, Joseph, Jr. »   //  Tilden, George »   //  Witherle, William Howe »

Citation: "Historical Materials." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. (accessed July 24, 2024).
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