Even before there was a national attention to environmental issues, the town of Weston was caring for its natural resources. In response to a 1966 Planning and Zoning Commission survey, the majority of town residents stated an appreciation for the town’s “rural character”.
Through the generosity of Katharine Ordway of Weston, an heir to the 3M fortune, starting in 1966 and continuing for the following two years, the entire 1,756 acres of land was donated to the Nature Conservancy. Formally known as the Lucius Pond Ordway Preserve in memory of her father, it is more colloquially known as Devil’s Den. This huge tract of land guaranteed that much or the northern portion of Weston would remain without buildings or human habitation.
Located primarily in Weston, Devil’s Den Preserves is the largest tract of protected land in densely developed Fairfield County. It is also of historical significance; archaeological evidence indicates human use of the area, mostly for hunting, as long as 5,000 years ago.
The remains of an up-and-down sawmill below Godfrey Pond testify to the importance of the lumbering that dovetailed with charcoal burning. The production of charcoal was an important commercial activity in the 1800s and marks dozens of sites. Local legend has it that it was so named by 19th century charcoal makers working in this hilly, rocky area who would say that a hoof-like mark in a particular boulder was the footprint of the devil.