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Mount Desert Island , c.100 sq mi (260 sq km), largest island off the coast of Maine; separated from the mainland by Frenchman Bay, Mt. Desert Narrows, and Western Bay. The island's rugged topography is a result of glacial action. It is almost equally divided into east and west halves by Somes Sound. A chain of rounded granite peaks dominates the island, culminating in Cadillac Mt. (1,532 ft/467 m high). The peaks were named Monts Deserts, meaning "wilderness mountains," by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain , who landed on the island in 1604. The first French Jesuit mission and colony in America was established there in 1613; the first permanent English settlement began in 1762. The island developed as a fishing and lumbering center, and by the end of the 19th cent. it had become a famous resort area. A forest fire in 1947 damaged much of the eastern half of the island. The main towns are Bar Harbor, whose downtown and coastline homes were spared by the fire; Southwest Harbor, which manufactures yachts; Northeast Harbor; and Bass Harbor, a fishing community. The major part of the island is in Acadia National Park .

"Mount Desert Island." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. 15 Aug. 2009 <>.

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