In October 1947 a series of fires lasting 26 days blazed across more than 25 square miles of Mount Desert Island. The fire seriously threatened Bar harbor, and transformed most of the landscape before you into an apparent wasteland. It consumed 170 homes of year-round residents. Over 60 summer mansions burned, leaving only chimneys and garden statues standing. One-third of the park woodlands burned before the flames died at the ocean's edge.
A forest of birch, aspen, and other hardwoods emerged where the charred stumps of spruce and fir trees can still be found. In time, these fast-growing species may be replaced by others until, perhaps,, spruce and fir dominate again. Natural cycles will always create a mosaic of different forest types across the island, but the Fire of 1947 stands out as a singular and powerful force of change.