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While many may be familiar with the Veterans Affairs (VA) Center at Togus near Augusta, Maine, few are aware that it was once the home of a small but significant breeding farm for trotting horses. The facility started serving Civil War veterans in 1866, then called the National Asylum for Disabled Soldiers.
The property was originally owned by Horace Beal of Rockland, and when Beal learned that mineral springs were located on the property, he seized upon a plan to build a Saratoga like spa. Beal invested heavily in the property, building a large hotel, bathing house, racetrack and stables. After Beal died, the land and improvements were sold to the U.S. Government for a soldier's home. The over mile long racetrack and stables were put to good use by the new Deputy Governor, Gen. William S. Tilton. This article traces the history of the facility as related to the trotting horse industry in Maine.
Thompson, Clark P., "General Tilton and Togus Farm" (2005). Maine History Documents. 11.
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