When a stray bit of ash from the factories along the brook below the Homestead blew onto William Warren Vaughan’s porch and landed in his teacup in the late 1800s, he became determined to buy back the family lands adjacent to the house that had become industrialized — so goes one oral history. Whether or not it was the ash in his tea that inspired him, William was successful in restoring the area to its former beauty. The reacquisition of the various parcels of land that today compose Vaughan Woods was a process he described as “slow and tedious and in one case litigious.” A boundary dispute in 1900 was settled in a dramatic court case that, in William’s words to his descendants “saved the Great Falls for you.” He deconstructed the Wire Mill Dam obtained in the case and built the High Arch Bridge, which still stands today and provides a stunning view of the Falls below.
More than a century later, a $117,479 grant developed with assistance from the Maine Grants & Community Recreation Program of the Bureau of Parks and Lands and funded through the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program will restore this same area. The project is set to begin this summer and will reconstruct 580 feet of steep trail, repair the southern abutment of the bridge, and build a stone staircase down to the brook. Another great victory for the Great Falls!