Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert Island (often abbreviated MDI), in Hancock County, Maine, is the largest island off the coast of Maine. With an area of 108 square miles (280 km2) it is the 6th largest island in the contiguous United States. It is the second largest island on the eastern seaboard of the United States. The island has a permanent population of approximately 10,000, although it is estimated that two and a half million tourists a year visit Acadia National Park on the island.

It was the outsiders, artists and journalists, who revealed and popularized this island to the world in the mid 19th century. Painters of the Hudson River School, including Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, glorified Mount Desert Island with their brushstrokes, inspiring patrons and friends to flock here. These were the "rusticators". Undaunted by crude accommodations and simple food, they sought out local fishermen and farmers to put them up for a modest fee. Summer after summer, the rusticators returned to renew friendships with local islanders and, most of all, to savor the fresh salt air, beautiful scenery, and relaxed pace. Soon the villagers' cottages and fishermen's huts filled to overflowing, and by 1880, 30 hotels competed for vacationers' dollars. Tourism was becoming the major industry. Catering to the rusticators and summer tourists visiting island towns, in particular Bar Harbor, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and other Wabanaki Indians sold baskets, bark canoes, bead work, carved clubs, and other crafts, offered guide services, and put on 'Indian shows.' During the summer season, dozens of families from several tribes lived in canvas tents and wooden shacks in the "Indian encampment" on the shores of Frenchman Bay.

Today, of course, the island is still a major tourist attraction, but the rusticators are long-gone.