A Kindred Spirit
“The greatest changes of all have been, not in the house, nor in the grounds, but in the brook. When the family came from England [in 1794], it was a wild ravine, with original forest on both sides, containing many enormous pines, and filled with the rapids and falls of a stream kept at flow by miles of woodland at its source.” So begins the chapter entitled “The Brook” in William Warren Vaughan’s memoir, “Hallowell Memories."
A well-travelled man who enjoyed summers at his home by the sea in Northeast Harbor, W.W. Vaughan was surely a kindred spirit to Miss Rumphius and her grandfather (see quotation above), for it is that "third thing" he did that made the most difference - "something" to make the world, or at least our little corner of it, more beautiful.
Great-grandson to the Homestead's first resident, Benjamin Vaughan, W.W. Vaughan was born in 1848, 20 years after his family had sold the lands surrounding the brook, now called the Vaughan Stream. "For a half century," he despairs "we have endured the results of our ancestors’ folly in smoke and dust and noise.” He describes the brook in his childhood as “a desolate valley, with all the wood on the north bank gone from the “Great Falls” (where the stone arch now is) up to the Litchfield Road, and with part of the stream disfigured by mills.” He writes “Nothing can restore the bed of the brook to its original shape, for the valley has been twice torn out in some spots, and filled up in others, by the bursting of the dam that forms Cascade Pond.”
He and his brother Charles worked together to buy back the land surrounding the brook, and over a period of 30 years he built the trails and bridges we know today. In 1931 W.W.Vaughan wrote “Nature has done its part in clothing the banks again with wood, and you will, in time, I hope, see the ravine restored much to its original beauty, as the result of nearly a lifetime’s work by my brother and myself and by our descendants.”
Seventy-five years after his death hundreds of visitors a week now find peace and joy in the beauty of the woods and trails surrounding his beloved and much-restored brook.
Above: This photograph is pasted into a 1911 entry in the Homestead journal and depicts W.W.Vaughan (last on the right) and workmen on the Corniche trail. He was deeply involved in designing and building the trails and bridges, often working alongside his hired men.