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Farmington: Franklin County's Shiretown

Measuring Rock

The Measuring Rock Story

In 1776, at the encouragement of Thomas Wilson, Stephen Titcomb and four other residents of Topsham, Maine set out to explore the Sandy River Valley for potential settlement. Famous hunter, Thomas Wilson, led the party consisting of Stephen Titcomb, Jr., Robert Gower, James Henry, Robert Alexander, and James McDonnell through the wilderness to what is now called Farmington. He had recommended this area recognizing the natural meadows, wide intervale and good hunting and fishing that the region offered.

The party canoed up the Kennebec River as far as Hallowell, which was known as Bombahook at that time. This was a small village consisting of three or four homes and some fish stores. They then followed the trail to the last house, then followed a west-north-west compass route and crossed the Sandy River at about what we now call the New Sharon Village. After crossing the river they followed the northern bank to what we now call Farmington Falls. The exploring party continued traveling north about a mile further up the river.

Here they stopped and stripped some basswood bark to make a chain (the tool used to measure land) that was one rod in length. Using a very large boulder as the corner (a stationary object used as a focal point) they measured out six lots and drew lots for ownership. Each lot was 100 rods long and extended 1 mile from the river. Stephen Titcomb’s lot was the most northern of the six.

No surveyors were available at the time of this first settlement, which is why the men marked off their own lots. In 1780, the first surveyors came to survey the land of the new Farmington establishment. It turned out that the first six lots were done exactly right.

Today, the large boulder used as the focal point for the first settlements of Farmington, known as the “Measuring Rock,” still stands on Routes 2 & 27. As you head south out of Farmington, past the transfer station, on the right at the crest of the hill is what used to be known as Junior Turner’s house. Behind the white picket fence, you can see the Measuring Rock from the road.

Stephen Titcomb lived in a house that was approximately on the same lot as the Methodist Church (down on the level spot near the road). There’s a stream called Blunt’s Brook that crosses the road near where Ebenezer Blunt lived. Blunt’s Brook crosses the road just north of the Measuring Rock.

The History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine, 1878, by George Augustus Wheeler, M.D. and Henry Warren Wheeler
The Falls: Where Farmington, Maine Began in 1776, by Ben & Natalie Butler
• Nancy Porter