Where in Maine?

Can you name this once disputed, now protected preserve?

Witherle Woods
Photograph by Kevin Bennett

This wooded promontory marks the edge of one of the country’s most historically embattled tracts, a parcel that changed hands 18 times between 1613 and 1815. French, Dutch, British, and American interests all coveted its deep, sheltered harbor and strategic location near the mouths of two rivers, an ideal site for trading timber and fur and to stake claims in the New World.

In 1779, one of the ugliest naval defeats in U.S. history played out in these waters. When British forces seized the nearby village, Massachusetts sent 1,000 troops to dislodge them — among them, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere, then four years removed from his midnight ride. But a squabble over strategy gave the British time to call for naval reinforcements. Surrounded, the Americans burned their own flotilla to avoid capture, then fled into the woods. An estimated 150 men were wounded or killed, and Revere was court-martialed (though he was later cleared).

Today, the former battleground is a 183-acre preserve, named for the landowner who converted artillery routes into carriage trails in the 1870s. In 1985, conservation-minded owners deeded much of the land to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and subsequent donations and purchases helped MCHT expand the preserve, which now hosts 6½ miles of trail, 195 plant species and 48 species of birds. Markers indicate where military forts once stood. From the preserve’s 218-foot high point, where troops once spied approaching enemies, visitors enjoy dramatic views of the neighboring bay.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust

Sponsored by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. This spot is one of dozens of pristine coastal havens conserved for you by MCHT. All of MCHT’s 130-plus preserves are free and open to the public. Click here to find one near you.

We’ll feature our favorite letter in an upcoming issue — and send the winner a Down East wall calendar.