We’ve all heard that Cadillac Mountain is the easternmost point of the United States where the sun first hits every day but is it true? According to the January 1972 edition of Yankee magazine, author Blanton C. Wiggin explains in great detail that Cadillac actually shares the esteemed notation with a few other spots in Maine.
It seems that the ages long argument over where the sunrise touches first – Mt. Katahdin, Mars Hill, Cadillac, Quoddy Head – is rooted in an issue with the saying “the sun rises in the east.” As the author points out, as the seasons move so too does the position of the Earth to Sun making the notion of what is “east” a bit of a sticky definition.
In fact, the only two times during the calendar year when the sun is “due east” are March 21st and September 21st, according to Wiggin. The sun appears to move 35 degrees northeast or 35 degrees southeast depending on the season and thus making it difficult to pinpoint Cadillac as the first spot in the US where the sun rises.
So, where does the sun hit first? Well, here is a defining quote from Wiggins on this age-old argument:
“Dec. 21 – March 6 Cadillac Mountain*
March 7 – March 24 West Quoddy Head
March 25 – Sept. 18 Mars Hill**
Sept. 19 – Oct. 6 West Quoddy Head
Oct. 7 – Dec. 20 Cadillac Mountain *
* Between about January 11 and March 6, and between October 7 and November 29, the hills of Grand Manan Island, N.B., near and higher than West Quoddy Head, usually block te sunrise (for up to 4-5 minutes), giving most mornings to Cadillac Mountain.
** In spring and summer, the hills of Carleton County, N.B., may block the sunrise at Mars Hill a minute or so, giving an occasional morning to Mt. Katahdin.”
And there you have it, the sun first hits…well…it depends on the date. If you ask me, it doesn’t matter where the sun touches first, the awesome display of mother nature every morning from the top of Cadillac Mountain is enough to keep me coming back to this beautiful park.