One day I happened upon an old letter that was printed in the local paper in the "letters to the editor" section of the paper, and in that letter was some ground shaking revalations and which seemed to shed new light on Sieur de Mont Spring. That letter writer made a startling claim that sieur de Monts Spring was not a natural wonder as many had hyped it as for many long years, but in fact was man made, created with human hands in a ploy to make the spring a cash making enterprize. Rediculus and absurd many will say at first, but it was not just any man making this claim, it was an outstanding figure in the community and a man of the cloth, and according to him, only three people knew of the sccret at the Spring and two of those people took their secret to the grave with them.
More on the man making this claim in a bit, for to fully understand what really took place at Sieur de Monts spring, you need to know the rest of the story that led up to the surrounding events at the Spring. John H. Prescott was the owner of a large area of land known locally as Prescott's Farm. Mr, Prescott lived on the farm with his sister and not far from the farmstead was a spring. Mr. Prescott and his sister were hard up for money and Mr. Prescott came up with a plan, he would turn his spring into a Spring Water and soda bottling business and set to work enlarging his little spring, digging it much deeper and wider and squaring off its walls upon which he placed tiles. Around the spring he placed large granite blocks to frame the spring and named it Red rock Spring. A bottling plant was constructed and soon Mr. Prescott was producing bottles of spring water and bottled soda, and for a time the business was doing well, in part because of the salesman Mr. Prescott proved he could be. He told the papers his site was like that of Eden and claimed his spring water was unlike any of the other spring waters out there because unlike their water, his spring water passed through miles of sand which acted as a natural filter. He would also make claims that his spring water was better for you because it could cure you of certain ills, but in truth other spring water companies back in the day also made such untrue claims in an effort to boost sales. The problem Mr. Prescott faced was just that, others were making many of the same claims he was making, and over time business began to slow, and once again Mr. Prescott and his sister were facing finacial troubles, he had to act, but how?
Mr. Prescott recalled how there was two springs on the other end of his property and decided to take a bold move and pull off, if successful, one of the biggest scams ever pulled back in those days. He went to work secretly digging one of those springs deep and made it much wider, but this time Mr. Prescott had learned his lesson from the first spring, and made certain this spring would be so large it would be called a wonder of nature. But Mr. Prescott ran into an unexpected problem, while in the process of enlarging this new spring, two people walked upon his work, passing through the area looking for a place to fish, and this encounter took place in the summer of 1907.
Charles S. Mitchell and a relative approached Mr. Prescott and inquired as to what he was doing, and Mr. Prescott confided in them and laid out his plans, stating that he was making one spring deeper and wider and plugging up a second nearby spring to force its waters into the first spring. He would keep the walls and floor of this spring rough and claim it was a wonder of nature and use that as a selling point for a new spring water and soda company he was going to erect on the site. That story would stay with Charles S. Mitchell for the rest of his life, as for Mr. Prescott, he did exactly what he laid out that day and soon people were not only coming to the area for spring water and bottled soda, but they were also arriving to view this new spring dubbed an Act of Nature and a wonder to behold.
George B. Dorr and others who wanted to see a National Park created here one day kept an eye on this property, because if they could obtain the land it would be a huge boost to their efforts to establish a National Park. One can not fault George B. dorr or any of the others back in the day for continuing to promote Sieur de Monts Spring as a Wonder of Nature, because in truth that is exactly what they believed it to be, and Mr. Prescott was not about to tell anyone the truth behind the spring he himself had created.
Acadia National Park began as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916 after 5,000 acres in the Sieur de Monts Spring area were donated to the federal government. In 1919, it became Lafayette National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi. In 1929, the park name changed to Acadia. On January 19, 1929, Lafayette National Park was renamed Acadia National Park by an act of Congress.
Below is a newspaper article on Red Rock Spring;
Bar Harbor Record
July 2, 1902
Prescot's Farm Promises To Be A Center Of Attraction
Another commercial enterprise has started at Bar Harbor. Commercial enterprise, while perfectly correct, is rather a misnomer for the Red Rock Spring Company for that term usually precludes the picturesque, unique and artistic, all of which the surroundings of the Red Rock Spring Company are.
Have you ever been out to Prescott's Farm? If not you have missed seeing one of the prettiest places on Mount Desert Island. It is a smaller edition of Robin Hood Park where the horse shows is held and the picturesque beauty of that is and the picturesque beauty of that is famous now the world over. Prescott's Farm has the same grassy fields surrounded by the same beautiful hills, and it has what Robin Hood Park has not, a crystal spring of pure water charged with a natural gas which causes big glassy bubbles to gather constantly on its sandy bottom and rise slowly in clear, colorless globules to the surface.
The situation of this spring is ideal. Tall silvery birches bend their carcessing branches above it and the hills all day, throw their protecting shadows over it. Mr. Prescott has always known of the existence of this spring and jealously guarded it. It was only the recent financial reverses that have overtaken him and his sister that have induced them to convert it to commercial uses.
When Mr. Prescott once puts his shoulder to the wheel he never turns back, and having made up his mind to make his spring yield him an income he stopped at nothing that would tend to make the business of the Red Rock Spring Company complete in every way. All his machinery and mechanical devices are the latest.
On Mr. Prescott's farm there is a red granite quarry, from a solid block of this has been fashioned an immense trough which has been placed in the building house. It is this red rock trough which gives the spring its name. The red granite is used also as the curbing of the srping itself, but this is as yet in state of incompleteness. In fact the whole business is an embryonic state and its success problemmaticical, althrough there seems to be no imperfections in the equations and a correct solution may be confidently expected.
At the bottling house the water is got ready for the market which already handles the goods. It is either put up pure and plain from the spring or charged by the carbonator and made into a sparkling drink. By mixing with a pure syrup and charging the water is converted into the twinkling of an eye into all sorts of soft drinks, delicious to the palate and perfectly free from all impurities. If we must drink let us drink from the Red Rock Spring.
If you visit the spring Mr. Prescott will tell you of the pains he has taken to preserve the sanitary condition with which nature had surrounded the place. The spring has been dug out the depth of nine feet and tiled up with pale blue tiling five feet square, a translucent body of water through which the bubbles before alluded to are continually rising. Outside this tiling is a layer of cement and than a wall of red granite. The ground beyond this has been excaved to the depth of the spring twelve feet in all directions and filled in with screened gravel, over this gravel flagging of the granite will be placed and the curb of the spring will also be of red rock.
An attractive well house with big windows is being built, and perhaps "Maud" will be there later to stoop where the cool spring bubbles up to fill for the "Judge" her small tin cup.
Here's to the Red Rock Spring
drink her down, drink her down,
It's the purest spring in town
drink her down, drink her down.
As for that all important letter sent to the local paper, it is as follows;
BAR HARBOR TIMES
JULY 21, 1960
To the Editor;
Visitors at Sieur de Monts Spring may at times wonder about the early history. One standing on the large flat rock in the brook and watching the water bubble and gorgie from beneath it may think he is beholding a natural event, when in fact, he is looking at the result of human planning and effort.
In the summer of 1907 John Prescott, owner of the property developed the spring at the upper end of the Harding Farm, so called, which was originally known as Red Rock Spring, and later, Mt. Kebo Spring, undertook to do the same thing with what is now the Sieur de Monts Spring.
I learned this quite by accident. One day in the summer above mentioned I was walking with a friend of my parents through the woods in that section. As a boy I had fished in the brook that flowed out of the meadow - now known as the tarn - and I knew that area very well.
Near the brook at that time was a small boiling spring with a much larger one several yards away.
As we came into the path off the Seal Harbor Road we heard from the valley below us the sound of horses and a stone drag. Coming into the clearing at the foot of the hill we found Mr Prescott with a team of horses dragging a large flat rock towards the smaller spring, and learned that he was planning another bottling plant similar to the one at Red Rock (Mt. Kebo). He told us he was setting that flat rock over the smaller spring in the attempt to force the water back into the larger one which he planned to deepen and enlarge.
The bottling plant, as such, did not prove to be the success had hoped, and in course of time the property passed to other hands and now has been developed into the beauty spot we have today. But that rock is the same one we saw put in place over 50 years ago.
What we see today is not a freak of nature but a deliberate attempt to improve on what nature has provided.
I can vouch for this as I am the only living person who was present when that stone was set in its present position.
Rev. Charles S. Mitchell, DD
I did some research which follows on who Rev. Charles S. Mitchell, DD was;
WHO WAS THE REV CHARLES S. MITCHELL
A piece I found in an article in the Bar Harbor Times dated August 2, 1922 states in part;
"Mr. Charles S. Mitchell served Long Island till cold weather, than he moved his family to Bar Harbor and spent the winter assisting in special services at Cranberry Isles, Matinitus, and other places. It seemed best to locate Mr. Mitchell at Corea where he can be of help in the town of Gouldboro, as there is not a minister in the town."
In the December 6, 1922 Bar Harbor Times, upon the passing of Rev. A.P. MacDonald, who had been the head of the Sea Coast Mission. A piece in that same paper was written by the Rev. Charles S. Mitchell, whose title states the following;
"Rev. A.P. MacDonald; A word of appreciation by Rev. Charles S. Mitchell, who was for some time associated with Mr. MacDonald as Assistant Missionary."
In a copy of the Bar Harbor Times dated July 26, 1922 an article begins with the following;
"BAR HARBOR MAN IS ORDAINED AT COREA
Charles S. Mitchell after service in Sea Coast Mission is now Baptist Minister.
A council of churches of Hancock County, was called by the church at Corea Wednesday, July 19th, to set apart by ordination to the Baptist ministry, Charles S. Mitchell who has been serving this church for the past two months, after nearly two years in the Sea Coast Mission work."
An article from the Bar Harbor Times in 1915 states that "Charles S. Mitchell expects to enter Gordon Theological School in Boston the middle of next month."
So the question remains, was Sieur de Monts Spring an act of Nature or an Act of Man? For me the evidence I have seen to date overweeningly show that Mr. Johm H. Prescott could of easily have pulled this off, and if he did it would be one of the grandest hoaxs ever pulled off concerning a National Park, after all, Sieur de Monts Spring was and continues to be one of the center pieces of Acadia National Park.
We know what became of Sieur de Monts Spring, regardless of which events you believe, as for Red Rock Spring, it is to this day still in a field, surrounded by brush, its tiled walls gleaming in the sunlight, the large granite blocks still frame the spring, though over time they have slipped from where they once were and one is close to falling into the spring. The large granite trough mentioned in newspaper articles is still near the site with several holes where pipes ran in and out of it, no article I have found to date states exactly what the purpose of the trough was for but its massive weight would require a major effort to move it today.
In this photo you can see some of the tiles that line Red Rock Spring