Coastal Rivers and Damariscotta Historical Society partner to improve cemetery access

Thu, 05/25/2023 - 7:45am

Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust and the Damariscotta Historical Society (DHS) worked together this month to improve access to the House-Day cemetery, a small family plot located in the woods off of Lessner Road near the Damariscotta-Bristol town line.

Patti Whitten, DHS Cemetery Trustee, approached Coastal Rivers Executive Director Steven Hufnagel last fall looking for suggestions for improving the trail that provides access to the House-Day plot. The path passes through the woods, over rocks and roots, and up a small hill. While the distance may not be far, Whitten and other volunteers are often maneuvering heavy loads such as buckets of water, tools and equipment, wheelbarrow loads of material, or even heavy fragments of broken monuments.

Conditions across one section of the trail range from spongy to flooded, making access challenging. Every year, flooding in this area forced volunteers to bushwhack on a roundabout route through shrubs and trees to avoid the standing water.

Whitten wondered if a bog bridge over the wet area would help, which led her to Coastal Rivers. Hufnagel was pleased to help and offered for Coastal Rivers staff to plan and construct the bridge if DHS could provide materials.

Trails and Facilities Manager Jim Grenier and Lands and Stewardship Coordinator Gunnar Nurme met with Whitten last fall to draw up a design. On May 8 and 11 Nurme and Stewardship Director Brad Weigel assembled the 32-foot bog bridge, even adding graded gravel at both ends to make it accessible for a wheelbarrow.

“They did a fine job,” said Whitten. “The bog bridge makes it much easier to get tools and materials up to the cemetery, which includes the graves of two veterans of the War of 1812.”

Established in 1998, Damariscotta Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing our heritage with the community and friends. For more information, contact or visit

Coastal Rivers is a non-profit, member-supported, nationally accredited land trust caring for the lands and waters of the Damariscotta-Pemaquid Region by conserving special places, protecting water quality, creating trails and public access, and deepening connections to nature through education programs. For more information, email or visit