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?

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Wood Island Light.

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Webber said he always passes on the town lore about the spirit of Gray, who served as the town's marshal from the late 1920s to the 1940s. When asked why Gray's spirit would be linked to city hall's paranormal history, Webber said it was because Gray was long-serving and well-liked.

"He was a real interesting guy and a rather colorful individual," Webber said. "He was at city hall for a long, long time."

And he may still be there today.

"You can hear noises every once in a while," said Hallett, "or we think we can, anyways."

 

HARPSWELL

In fishing communities such as Harpswell, it's fairly common to find tales of ghost ships. The Dead Ship of Harpswell is just such a tale.

"There's a huge amount of people out there telling the same story, but it's not the same story," said David Hackett, president of the Harpswell Historical Society.

Most of the stories, he said, follow the same lines: A ship under full sail is seen approaching the shore, but it disappears before reaching its destination. Whenever the spectre ship was sighted, it preceded the death of someone in town.

Hackett said he hasn't heard of anyone seeing the ghost ship in recent years, but past sightings have taken place toward dusk at Lookout Point, Potts Point and also off Bailey and Orrs islands.

 

NEWFIELD

The Old Straw House is named for Gideon Straw and is haunted by his daughter, Hannah. According to legend, she is buried underneath the kitchen. She died in March 1826 at age 30. The ground was still frozen from the winter chill, so her father buried her underneath the kitchen floorboard in ground that was warm from the heat of the house.

Folks who have inhabited the house over the years say they've encountered Hannah's apparition, and for an extended period in the 1960s, her image appeared regularly in a window. They've also reported footsteps in the hall and lights turning on and off when no one was home.

 

OLD YORK

Mary Nasson is buried in a beautiful old cemetery with a gorgeous, ornate headstone marking her final resting spot at the Old York Burying Ground. She died in 1774, and has been dogged for decades since with rumors of her being a witch.

Her grave is said to be haunted, and a long stone that covers the length of her body was placed there to keep her from rising in the night.

The folks from the Old York Historical Society have gone to lengths to dispel those rumors, though they are offering a tour of haunted places on Halloween that includes the "much-maligned" grave of Mary Nasson.

 

POLAND SPRING

The long-running Poland Spring Resort and its famed water both trace their modern history to 1797, when the Ricker family opened the Wentworth Ricker Inn to travelers in need of room and board. Over the years, the inn expanded into a resort that rose to a fashionable peak during the Gilded Age. Hiram Ricker was the driving force behind the transformation of the property from wayside inn and a trickle of water in a field to a bustling resort and international spring water purveyor.

Ricker passed away in 1893, but his spirit is reported to linger at the property today.

Since the resort's humble beginnings, buildings have come and gone and been replaced by newer, often grander ones. Today, paranormal activity has been reported in the Victoria-era Presidential Inn, the Hiram Riccar Cottage and the more contemporary Maine Inn, where the 10,000-volume library is the site of many unexplained happenings.

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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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