The Rumford Falls Trail follows sidewalks and a gravel road for a 1.6 mile loop. Heading in a counter-clockwise direction from the visitor center, the route goes moderately uphill on the sidewalk along US Route 2 for 0.5 miles. Turning left onto South Rumford Road, cross the Androscoggin River on a high bridge with great views of the dam and Rumford in the background. On the opposite side of the bridge, on the left, a gated gravel road heads northwards (downstream) parallel to the river. Along this section are lookouts that provide views of the dam and Rumford Falls. After 0.7 miles, the gravel road intersects Bridge Street (ME Route 108). Turn left (west) on the sidewalk and continue over two bridges and past a war memorial before returning to the visitor center parking lot.
Originally referred to as Pennacook Falls or New Pennacook Falls, Rumford Falls is series of drops of the Androscoggin River. Although the river drops a total of 176 feet, dams have split the once continuous cascade into several distinct sections. The huge upper falls is still spectacular by any standard, especially in times of high water.
Bands of St. Francis Indians once hunted and fished here, where salmon spawn in the pool below Upper Falls. Sawmills and gristmills were built to harness water power from the falls, and in 1882, industrialist Hugh J. Chisholm recognized the falls' potential for the manufacture of paper. The first paper mill drew an infusion of people and money into the sleepy community of about 200 residents and the production of paper still dominates Rumford's riverfront and economy.
In "’The Only Man’: Skill and Bravado on the River–Drive" in Maine History Vol 41, No. 1, Edward "Sandy" Ives mentions David Severy, the only man to ride the Rumford Falls sluice in the early 20th century.
More historical information about Rumford Falls and the Town of Rumford can be found by visiting the Rumford Public Library online.
Visit the Town of Rumford online for more information or contact:
The Rumford Falls Trail can be accessed at several points along the loop. However, the visitor center and parking lot is the most convenient beginning and end point. The visitor center is on US Route 2 about 100 feet west of the intersection of US Route 2 and ME Route 108. The route can be done in either direction, starting on either side of the parking lot.
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