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A History of Kineo ~ Moosehead Lake
by Durward J. Ferland, Jr. Back to History
Moosehead Lake is neatly bisected by the world's largest mass of rhyolite. Mt. Kineo rises 763 feet above the level of the lake to a height of 1,958 feet above sea level. On the east side, it is a sheer cliff, overhanging Kineo Bay. A peninsula jutting out into Moosehead, Kineo was first discovered around 11,000 years ago by Paleo-Indians. Kineo has a rich Indian history from this time until the present century.
Private ownership came at Kineo in 1840 when the state sold Kineo to John Bradbury for $350, Construction began in 1844 when a tavern opened in a rough hewn lumber building. The Mount Kineo House was built in 1848 with a bowling alley added sometime around 1855. In 1868, a fire destroyed the house but it was rebuilt and opened in 1871, A wing was added along with a winter cottage, but it all burned to the ground in 1882. The new hotel was opened on July 29, 1884 with a bowling alley, library, golf course, tennis courts, baseball diamond, lawns for croquet, and horseback riding available to the guests. Two hundred rooms accommodated over 500 guests. The rooms were heated by steam, hot and cold running water, lighted by both gas and electricity, and two elevators serviced all five floors. In 1900, 80 rooms were added, there were golf rooms, card rooms, parlors, a playroom for children, a music room, a drawing room, and a library. Two concerts were given daily for the house orchestra. The dining room, able to seat 400, was 110 feet long by 50 feet wide.
In 1911, the dining room was enlarged to 200 feet long to seat 500 at one time. An annex was added to be used year round, This was the period of absolute refinement for Kineo. By 1914, the hotel and annex had 431 employees.
Kineo was the vacation resort for the rich and influential people during this time. Among the famous guests was a Polish princess. The service was extraordinary for all guests, although many families brought their own butler and maid since they planned on staying for the entire summer. New menus were printed daily featuring treats such as Penobscot River Salmon and water from Kineo Spring. Small steamers or guides with canoes were available to bring guests on excursions around Moosehead.
Kineo was sold in 1938 when demolition began on the hotel, but during demolition fire destroyed the remains of the building. The resort was closed from this time until 1950. Restoration began on the annex in 1946 and continued 'until the opening in 1950 including enlarging the dining room. The golf course was expanded to 13 holes. In 195O, the annex and cottages were reopened to the public in excellent condition. Forty-five rooms were available when a championship size pool was added around 1952. Kineo closed its doors in 1970, Since then, several restorations have been attempted but none completed. The golf course has been restored and reopened as a picturesque 9-hole course. The inevitable came in 1995 when demolition began on the annex,
Today Kineo is still a terrific place to visit. For hikers, there are several hiking trails leading up the mountain to the 60 foot fire tower. From the top of this tower, an entire panoramic view of Moosehead Lake and all the surrounding mountains can be seen. Or one can spend the morning playing golf and the afternoon exploring the peninsula and marvel at what it would have been like a century ago seeing gentlemen in suits and ladies in long dresses relaxing for the summer.Back to History
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