Sullivan & Sorrento

A Brief History of Sullivan & Sorrento

Sullivan was originally called Adowaukeag or Waukeag by the indigenous people who lived in the area when the white people first began to settle here. Until the place name could be identified, no one knew where the boundaries of De La Mothe-Cadillac’s grant were.

The name indicated the great tidal stream from Sullivan Harbor that fills Taunton, Egypt, and Hog Bays, and specifically, Falls Point, where the glacial kame crosses the river. The name Waukeag indicates “a horseback in a place where the tide runs out very strong.”

The Town of Sullivan was incorporated in 1789. The early settlers decided to name the town after their Revolutionary War Hero Daniel Sullivan, who had lived in Sorrento and died in 1782. Sullivan originally included parts of what later became Hancock and Lamoine in 1828 and Sorrento in 1895.

Sorrento was known as Waukeag Neck until its incorporation as a separate town under the name of “Sorrento,” after a town in Italy. The development of Sorrento as a summer resort began in the mid-1880s as the nearby Bar Harbor was undergoing major growth.

In Sullivan, the early lumbermen built several tidal sawmills, the largest of which ran across Long Cove. Later, interest switched to fresh-water mills. The area was also home to fishing fleets, mines, and abundant granite quarries.