When we attended the Memorial Day parade and ceremony in South China, we were very impressed with the keynote speaker’s presentation at the ceremony. Lorna Hatch, chief of voluntary service from VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus, told the history of the hospital. And what an amazing history it is.

I’ve lived in the Augusta area my entire life, and I never knew the story behind the Togus VA. For example, did you know that it is the oldest VA in the entire country, established in 1866 after the Civil War by then President Abraham Lincoln? It became a self-sustaining complex, raising its own produce and livestock and operating a sawmill, shoe factory, shops, an opera house and even a zoo, among other things. A cog railway was built to connect the VA to Gardiner and Augusta, and hundreds of people would come for Sunday afternoon picnics and events.

Sandra Mason


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