September 12, 2013

From the editor: Things that go bump in the light

Visitors will see spectacular views of the Maine coast while learning some fascinating history.

By ROD HARMON Deputy Managing Editor

Saturday is Open Lighthouse Day, the one time of the year that visitors are allowed inside operational lighthouses statewide. Not only does this provide spectacular views of the Maine coast, it gives a chance to learn some fascinating Maine history. Click here for a detailed look at almost two dozen lighthouses participating in Open Lighthouse Day this year.

Sometimes, there's more than meets the eye at these historic structures, as in a paranormal sense. Here are some tidbits that the tour guides may not tell you when you visit the lighthouses on Saturday:

Owls Head Lighthouse was recently named one of the top 10 most haunted lighthouses in America by coastliving.com. The grounds are reportedly frequented by an old sea captain who likes to polish brass and frugally lower thermostats -- not a bad deal at all when it comes to having a ghost around.

But the spirits at Owls Head Lighthouse aren't just of the two-legged variety. Visitors have also reported "fog dogs" -- deceased companions of long-ago keepers.

Less inviting are the ghosts reported to reside at the Wood Island Lighthouse near Biddeford Pool. In 1896, a drunken "beach bum" shot and killed his landlord on Wood Island, then committed suicide. Strange moans and dark shadows have been reported there ever since.

No one really knows the story behind Pemaquid Point Lighthouse's resident ghost -- a red-haired woman in a shawl who appears near the fireplace in the keeper's house. Is she the long-deceased spouse of a keeper? A shipwreck victim? A grieving widow who lost her true love to the sea? Whatever the story, there have been numerous sightings.

Another murder-suicide occurred at Seguin Island Lighthouse near Popham Beach. Given that it's three miles from the mainland, isolation was a way of life for keepers and their families, especially during winter. To help his young wife deal with her boredom, one keeper bought his wife a piano. The problem was, she only had one page of sheet music.

The constant playing of the same song over and over and over again eventually drove the keeper insane. He chopped the piano to bits, turned the ax on his wife, then killed himself. It's said that on a calm night, you can still hear the tinkling of the piano keys floating up the Kennebec River. 

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

rharmon@pressherald.com

 

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