All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A History of Togus

The VA website gives an interesting history of the hospital and cemetery at Togus, in the town of Chelsea.
The name Togus comes from the Native American name Worromontogus, which means mineral water. The Togus property was originally a summer resort called Togus Springs. It was owned and operated by Horace Beals, a wealthy granite merchant from Rockland, Maine, who hoped to establish a racing and resort community like Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He invested over $250,000 in a hotel, stables, bowling alley, farmhouse, bathhouse, driveways and racetrack. The untimely resort opened in 1859 but failed to generate business due to the Civil War. The resort, known locally as "Beals' Folly," closed in 1863. Beals died shortly after his business failed and the government obtained the property for $50,000. The spot was selected because of its isolation from large cities, well-known spring and bargain price tag.

In 1865, as the Civil War was drawing to a close, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act establishing the National Asylum (later changed to Home) for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The Eastern Branch at Togus was the first of these facilities to open, in November 1866.

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