The Somesville Bridge, Mount Desert Island's Most Photographed Bridge
Located just outside of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island is one of the most photographed and visually stunning bridges in all of Maine. The Somesville Bridge is certain to capture your attention—the arched wooden footbridge, with its brilliant white coat, spans the waters of Somes Creek.
Situated at the northern end of Somes Sound, the bridge is surrounded by the flora of mother nature and colorful potted flower boxes that help to create an amazing reflective scene that lures visitors to stop and photograph.
The bridge is located in the village of Somesville on Mount Desert Island on the Maine coast. Somesville is the oldest community on the island and dates to 1761 when it was first settled by Abraham and Hannah Somes. The community that developed here was subsequently named Somesville and the inlet where it is located became Somes Sound, named appropriately after the family. In 1975 the village and harbor area were designated a historic district and listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
While Acadia National Park has an abundance of natural wonders to see, if you are spending some time on Mount Desert Island you will most certainly drive past the Somesville Bridge at some point during your visit. The location is right on Route 102, Main Street, and there is a small parking area by the bridge to accommodate visitors. There is no cost to visit other than your time, although donations are accepted to help care for the bridge.
To say that Acadia National Park is a beautiful place is kind of a misnomer. The park is actually a series of beautiful places, all housed on different parts of Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic Peninsula and other islands along the coast of Maine.— John D. Rockefeller
History of the Bridge
While the bridge begs for a long and storied history, it is in fact relatively new by historical standards. The bridge was first constructed in 1981 but had to be replaced in 1995. The wood used in the initial project required a great deal of maintenance so it was replaced with a pressure treated wood version that would better withstand the harsh elements of the Maine coast.
How the bridge came to be is actually a very interesting story. The idea for the bridge came from a student at the local College of the Atlantic, who suggested to Environmental Design professor, Roc Caivano, that a bridge be built over Somes Creek. Caivano offered up the idea to Dr. Virginia Somes Sanderson, a descendant of the original Somes family that settled here. Mrs. Sanderson, who was a member of the Somes Historical Society was looking for a new project to support. The story goes that she loved the idea of a bridge over Somes Creek and agreed to fund the entire project in memory of Thaddeus Shepley Somes, who was her grandfather. Today the bridge is appropriately named the Thaddeus Shepley Somes Memorial Bridge.
What to See
In addition to the bridge there are two small buildings adjacent to the bridge, one on each side of the creek. One was a storage building that was constructed in 1981 and was also a project of Caivano’s students. Today it is the home of the Somesville Museum & Gardens. The museum displays exhibits that feature the history of Mount Desert Island and they are changed each summer. The garden area showcases flowering plants that can be found throughout Mount Desert Island.
The other building is the historic Selectman’s Building, which dates to the 1780s. The Selectmen’s Building has a long history and was used at various times as a post office, a cobbler’s shop, a school, and a museum. Visitors can step inside the building to watch videos of local residents being interviewed. The videos are part of a project called "Somesville: A Sense of Place". In the interviews the residents share their stories and experiences of living in Somesville and it really gives visitors a sense of the character of the people who live here.
Somesville Museum & Garden Information:
- Open from June 29th – Sept 2nd
- Hours: 10 am to 4 pm daily
- There is no charge to tour the museum, however donations are accepted.
It shouldn’t take long to tour the grounds, visit the Museum and Selectmen's Building, and of course cross the bridge. This little corner of Mount Desert Island is very photogenic and you will want to have your camera with you when visiting. The colorful blooms of the plants make a perfect contrast to the pristine white of the bridge and buildings. During the fall season the scene becomes even more magical as the changing colors of the leaves reflect perfectly in the water. It should come as no surprise that the bridge is a very popular venue for wedding photos, and artists and photographers from around the world travel here to capture its brilliance in paintings and photos.
Thank you for coming along for a visit to the enchanting Somesville Bridge. If your travels are taking you to Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island be sure to seek out this little corner of paradise. Even if stopping for just a few moments, the beauty of the bridge in this tranquil setting will not easily be forgotten.
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© 2020 Bill De Giulio