Here is Barbara Dyer's account of the History of Maiden's Cliff


A parking lot filled with automobiles very frequently is seen at the foot of Mt. Megunticook. Locals and tourist like to make the easy climb to Maiden's Cliff to see the view of Megunticook Lake from the cross.

If one is seeing it for the first time, their question may be, "Why there a white cross as a sentinel on the sheer cliff?"

Answer: The cross marks a tragedy that happened many years ago.

On May 6, 1862 (or some say 1864, but I am too young to either confirm or deny the date), a young girl fell from that spot. No one is sure exactly why she fell, but the correct version of the accident is taken from The Camden Herald in 1915. The young girl's sister gave the information, as she also climbed the mountain that day.

I quote from The Camden Herald: "My father's name was Zadoc French, and I was the eldest of 12 children. We lived at Lincolnville Beach (but they called it French Beach, at that time.)

"That day myself and the school teacher, Miss Hartshorn, were getting ready to drive to Lincolnville Center to see some friends, when little Elenora coaxed her mother to let her go with us. After dinner a young man, Randall Young, invited us to go up the mountain, and the four of us climbed Megunticook from the Lincolnville side.

"We did not realize we were over the boldest cliff on the rock until Mr. Young told us so, and he said he would find a big rock and roll it down over. While he was looking for a rock, Miss Hartshorn and I were sitting down and little Elenora was rambling around us.

"I remember exactly how she looked. Her hat had blown off and with it the net, and when I last saw her she was sitting on a rock near the edge of the cliff putting on her net. I turned to speak to Miss Hartshorn. I heard a scream. I looked where Elenora had been sitting and she was gone.

"We were dazed for a moment and then ran to the edge of the cliff, but could not get near enough to look over. Mr. Young climbed down the face of the cliff to where Elenora had landed, nearly 300 feet they say from where she fell.

"She was still alive and not a bone broken, but she was injured internally and died at 12:30 that night. I do not know how my sister came to fall. I shall always think that a puff of wind took her hat, and she fell over going after it. The cross was erected some years later." Joseph B. Stearns, the original owner of the "castle" Norumbega, had the first simple cross erected in memory of the 11-year-old girl who had lost her life.

Over the years, the cross needed replacing several times. The one put up in 1947 became worn and weak from the elements, and consequently blew down on Jan. 17, 1980. A new cross weighing 600 pounds, measuring 12x24, replaced it.

The National Air Guard came to the aid with a helicopter. That was the fourth cross erected since the tragedy.

Coastal Monuments and Laite Funeral Home, donated a monument inscribed "In memory of Elenora French," on Sept. 15, 1986. Sam Dyer and Roy Brown used two all-terrain vehicles loaded with cement, tools, water and the granite slab. They traveled over trails, fields and wood to the white cross, and by drilling into the rock they installed the monument at the base of the cross.

In May 1988, vandals managed to topple the cross. Members of the Camden Fire Department, Mountain Rescue, with the Camden Parks and Recreation Department volunteered four hours of their time on a Sunday morning in October to right the cross again.

The 240th Engineer Group of the Maine National Guard from Waterville sent two Huey helicopters to the summit. The larger one hooked onto the cross and lifted it over the site, while the other stood by, just in case. Volunteers moved it into place and secured it with cables donated by Wayfarer Marine Corporation.

Heavy winds made the job difficult, but determination prevailed to accomplish the feat. The men praised the pilot, Jeff Peterson, for his ability to maneuver the helicopter. We thank the volunteers at the scene, namely: Tom McKearney, Kenneth Bailey, George Graham, George Doak, Neal Peabody, Bruce Hensler, Chris Kierstead, Steve Bacon, Lawrence Pearse, Wayne Clark, Tom Jackson, Daniel Ames, Jeff Connon, Tom Quantrell and Mike Weed.

Then, in a short time, the south arm of the cross got broken and hung there. Frank O'Hara, Jr. donated steel and fabricated a replacement. They coated the cross with epoxy paint for protection from the elements.

That time the volunteers included then-Rep. Lawrence Nash, Carlton Dougherty, Frank O'Hara, Earl Weaver and Town Manager Roger Moody.

Donations of money came forth, and Wayfarer Marine Corporation again donated stainless steel wire and hardware. It was ready again on Memorial Day 1992, tested by strong winds the year before, from the end of a hurricane.

The cross should be the guardian of Maiden's Cliff for many years to come, thanks to those who cared about the little girl who lost her life, and all who contributed time, effort and material. Elenora had no idea that one little girl could make a difference for many years to come.

From the parking lot, where the old Barrett Farm once stood, there is a path from Route 52 to Maiden's Cliff. It is an enjoyable hike, and from the summit one is rewarded with a breathtaking view. But there is also a feeling of sadness of the happy outing so long ago that suddenly ended in tragedy.

Two old Post Cards of Maden's Cliff

Maiden's Cliff Today
A popular Family Hiking Adventure

You will find this a great place to watch the Sunset over Maine's western mountains off in the distance. Be sure to bring a flash light if you stay as long as the last rays of sunset.

We often pickup a sandwich and our favorite beverage and a flashlight and go here to unwind and watch the world pass below.

 

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