History of the Marginal Way

The conveyance of a mile-long strip of oceanfront property, called the “Marginal Way,” is the finest donation the Town of Ogunquit has ever received.  Josiah Chase, Jr. donated the original parcel in 1925.

Historical postcard

Historical postcard

Beginning in a corner of Oarweed Cove, the now-paved (and longer) footpath meanders through bayberry, honeysuckle and bittersweet, gnarled shrubs of fragrant pink and white sea roses that frame expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The picturesque footpath is called “the margin” because of its patterned development along the edge of Maine’s cliffs.  For more than 85 years, persuasive philanthropists have worked tirelessly to protect and preserve the Marginal Way.

How it started

Josiah Chase’s tombstone in the Ogunquit Cemetery

Josiah Chase (1840 to 1928) , a conservationist and former State Legislator, retired to York, Maine and bought a 20-acre strip of land extending “…from Perkins Cove to Israel Head.”

Three years before his death in 1928, at age 88, Chase ceded the magnificent Marginal Way to the Town.  When he conveyed this prime parcel to the public, Chase became the first of many to demonstrate an altruistic love for Ogunquit. In the years that followed, other Ogunquit landowners conveyed parcels that lengthened the footpath by another 1/4 mile.

The Marginal Way has survived hurricanes, development booms and municipal budget shortfalls.  Credit goes to Ogunquit’s Marginal Way Committee and the non-profit Marginal Way Preservation Fund, a 501.c.3 organization.

Benches and plaques

Historical postcard showing Ogunquit Beach

Loved ones have strolled along these granite cliffs for many years.  Although the walk is gentle, with easy bends and inclines, most people stop for a rest at one of the benches along the way.  These lookouts give the Marginal Way a sense of reverence, since benches are dedicated to someone who loved and cherished the area.  The bench program ended in the 1980s.  The program to add bronze plaques on the granite posts of the Footbridge ended in 2011.  Today, possible new plaque spaces will be available, but none have been approved.

Funds sorely needed

After ferocious storms in 1991 and 2007 destroyed large sections of the Marginal Way, supporters created an Endowment Fund to preserve and protect this beloved coastal path from destructive weather and constant wear.

When you contribute to the Marginal Way Preservation Fund, your generosity enables us to meet the most urgent needs of the footpath.  You receive tax benefits and the satisfaction of supporting our mission.

After all, the Marginal Way is one of the most painted and beloved places anywhere in America.


6 Responses to History

  1. Stacy akin says:

    Can you use strollers of the marginal way trail?

  2. Faucher says:

    If i died I will like to a plaque with my name on a bench on the marginal way
    Is it possible, and what is the cost
    Thank you
    Marie-France Faucher

    • George Hamilton says:

      We still get numerous requests about bench plaques. The town of Ogunquit has put a permanant moratorium on new bench plaques. The last project on the Marginal Way we can do is the current plaque program which you can learn more about on our site.

  3. Martin Barger says:

    Interested in a plaque, bench, etc on the Marginal Way. Please let me know what is available, what is planned for the future, and when. Thank you.

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