BATH — There are 65 lighthouses in Maine, and at least eight are haunted, according to those who have studied paranormal behavior. For those intrigued by such tales, the ghost stories about Maine’s lighthouses along the Kennebec and Sheepscot rivers seem plausible.

“I definitely believe these lighthouses could be haunted. People hear weird sounds and they can’t determine what they are. I think you have to be susceptible to hear these things. I definitely believe,” said Jamie Carter of Sicklerville, New Jersey, one of 30 who went on Maine Maritime Museum’s first haunted lighthouse tour last week.

Such haunted stories are a big draw, said Katie Meyers, communications manager at the Maritime Museum in Bath. The museum sees 60,000 visitors a year come to its 20-acre campus along the Kennebec River, and more than 6,000 take boat tours on the river to learn the natural history of the region and stories of how the river was first settled, Meyers said. A hardy 30 showed up for the chilly mid-October haunted lighthouse tour, led by Sally Lobkowicz, director of Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, which runs tours in towns from Bar Harbor to Damariscotta.

Meyers said the tour was a last-minute idea, but she believes with more planning, many more would have attended.

Of the seven lighthouses the tour passed in the three-hour cruise, just two are believed to be haunted – Seguin Island Lighthouse at the mouth of the Kennebec in Georgetown and Hendricks Head Light on the Sheepscot River – Lobkowicz said. But that by no means speaks to all the hauntings along Maine’s coast, she said. Lobkowicz is aware of several other lighthouses in Maine that are haunted, and others may be.

“I haven’t researched the history of all of them,” she said. “I read history, I go to libraries. Sometimes I go door to door. And in a lot of different places, people say they’ve heard or seen (unexplained) things.”

Lobkowicz said she has heard convincing evidence that ghosts dwell at Pemaquid Point Light, Portland Head Light, Matinicus Rock Light, Owls Head Light, Boon Island and Wood Island lights, in addition to Seguin Island and Hendricks Head.

Seguin Island Lighthouse, commissioned by George Washington in 1795, is Maine’s tallest and second-oldest light station, next to Portland Head Light, commissioned by Washington in 1791.

Lobkowicz said this light house, set on a formidable rocky island off the coast of Popham Beach, is haunted by at least two ghosts: a little girl who is heard to bounce a ball on the stairs and is “obviously a very happy little ghost,” and an older woman who came there with her husband, one of the early keepers in the early 1800s, who is “the least happy ghost there.”

As the legend goes, Lobkowicz said, the woman came to live on the remote island right after she and her husband were married, and to cheer his bride in her isolation the keeper brought out a piano. But their love story turned tragic when the woman proved capable of playing only one song, and it drove the keeper mad.

“She played it and played it and played it. And finally he got an ax and chopped the piano and then took the ax to his wife and himself,” Lobkowicz said. “When the lighthouse was not working after that, people wondered and came out and found out what happened. To this day, people say they still hear her piano music. And they believe her ghost continues to play her song.”

Lobkowicz said she has met people who claim to have heard the music coming from Seguin Light – sailors who stop in Bath and those in other coastal towns where she leads historic tours.

She said she has eyewitness accounts of a ghost haunting Hendricks Head Light, as well.

Standing tall on Southport Island in the Sheepscot River, the lighthouse was built in 1829. It’s been haunted since 1876, Lobkowicz said.

After a shipwreck that year on the opposite shore, a crate carrying a baby in blankets was sent from the doomed ship as it sank, and the lighthouse keeper and his wife saved and adopted the girl, Lobkowicz said. However, in the years after, rumors spread of an apparition around the lighthouse that is believed to be the baby’s mother.

“Several people in this area say they’ve seen her walking on the beach in white,” Lobkowicz said.

Jamie Carter and her husband, Patrick, from New Jersey were convinced.

“I’m open to believe it. She’s done her research,” Patrick Carter said of Lobkowicz.

Jean and Nick Arcangeli of Harpswell, on the other hand, came on the haunted tour simply for the autumn boat ride, and were skeptical of the ghost stories. But after moving to Harpswell from Vermont three months ago, they delighted in their first cruise here.

“Just to be out on the water on a beautiful day is perfect. I’ve never seen the land from this vantage point. It gives you a different perspective,” Nick Arcangeli said. “But I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Steve Clark, who summers on Orrs Island, wasn’t sure about the haunted tales at first, but then as the boat steered past a bald eagle and into Bath Harbor, he reconsidered.

“The stories are probably better at night. I believe the stories of history – the baby being washed ashore, the woman playing the piano, her husband killing her. But it may not be ghosts making those noises now,” Clark said, then waved the air and smiled. “But, sure, I do. I’m choosing to believe it all.”

 


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