October 28, 2010

Maine haunts to visit if you dare

Maine is known for its beautiful scenery and peaceful quality of life. But what evil lurks just beneath the seemingly placid surface?

Hearing footsteps when there is no one around to make them. Seeing a transparent stranger standing at the foot of your bed. Moans, screams and maniacal laughter emanating from thin air.

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Wood Island Light.

File photo

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Are these all symptoms of eating too-greasy takeout or evidence of a bona fide haunting?

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, most of us can't help be fascinated by the tales handed down through generations of haunted houses, ghosts and other misfortunes that doom poor souls for eternity. And given New England's storied history, it's no wonder the area is home to many such tales.

Following is a list of some of the places in Maine purported to be haunted. All of them are accessible to the public, so check them out yourself -- if you dare.

Bwa-ha-ha.

 

ACTON

Rural legend in Acton claims there's a ghost dog roaming the shore of Loon Pond. The haunting husky is notable both for his presence and what he's missing: a fourth leg. According to local stories, the three-legged dog has a light glow, and is typically seen around midnight.

What's keeping the canine at the pond's edge is anyone's guess. Perhaps Loon Pond is where the dog bid farewell to life. Or perhaps it's where leg No. 4 bid farewell to the dog, and the ghostly husky is stalking the shoreline until the lost limb is returned from the water's depths.

 

BIDDEFORD

Visitors to Biddeford's historic City Theater are used to keeping their eyes on the stage. But they might not realize there's purported to be a set of eyes watching them -- from above.

Rumors of a "seeing eye" peering down from the ceiling, lights flashing and unexplained voices surround the theater. It's no surprise that drama surrounds the venue, with its 114 years of opera, theatrics and tragedy.

One persistent story involves singer Eva Gray, who collapsed following her third encore of the song "Goodbye, Little Girl, Goodbye" on Halloween Eve. According to the theater's website, "The beautiful 33-year-old died backstage from heart failure with her 3-year-old daughter present. Many since have referred to Eva as the theater's resident 'ghost'."

 

Wood Island Light, located on Wood Island just off the Biddeford coast, was witness to a murder-suicide in 1896. Local sheriff Fred Milliken was shot by Howard Hobbs, a "drunken drifter" who had rented an island chicken coop from Milliken to sleep in. Hobbs shot the sheriff following an argument, and after Milliken's death, Hobbs shot himself at the lightkeeper's house.

According to hauntedlights.com, "Most agree it's Hobbs that is haunting the lighthouse and not the sheriff. Moans are heard coming from the chicken coop, and locked doors have been mysteriously opened at the lighthouse. Dark shadows and strange voices have been heard."

One lightkeeper "couldn't take it any more, and rowed to the mainland to spend the night, leaving the lamp unlit. The next morning, he jumped from the third floor of the boardinghouse to his death."

 

HALLOWELL

Is it the ghosts of politicians past who roam Hallowell's historic city hall? Or rather a police chief still keeping watch over his town?

City Clerk Deanna Hallett recalls hearing about the haunts of city hall when she was a child. These days when employees hear unexplained footsteps, they attribute it to a former city protector, Luther Gray.

Hallowell's historian, Sumner Webber, has heard of city hall's haunted side, but never experienced it himself. "Every once in a while I get a call from someone" who's had an unusual experience at city hall, Webber said.

The callers all want to know the same thing: Who or what is behind the supposed haunting?

(Continued on page 2)

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Some say Witchtrot Road in York got its name because witches walked it to their deaths around the time of the witch trials in Salem, Mass. One problem: There were no witch trials in York County and no witches were killed there, says Scott Stevens of the Museums of Old York. Another theory posits that it was the road George Burroughs took when he was sent to Salem to face trial and subsequently hanged.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Some believe Biddeford's City Theater is haunted by the ghost of singer Eva Gray, who collapsed following her third encore of "Goodbye, Little Girl, Goodbye" and died backstage with her little girl present on Halloween Eve, 1904.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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The grave of Mary Nasson in the Old York Burying Yard in York. There is a myth that Mary Nasson was a witch.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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