Strange Maine

Founded 2005! Freaks. Weirdos. Unmapped roads. Whispering rocks. Deadening fog. Ghost pirates. Lonely islands. THINGS in the WOODS. Home of Stephen King & Glenn Chadbourne. A place where the 4 seasons really know how to live. Maine: the way life should be! This site is a nexus for conversation about Maine's unique strangeness, people who love it, people who have experienced it, & people who are intrigued by it. History, mysteries, legends, current events, cryptozoology, & more.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Westbrook's pocket of time

This article first appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of the Strange Maine Gazette. I was reluctant to post it on the blog, being a little worried that more adventurous/less responsible folks might take it upon themselves to liberate the time capsule. Recent email from the City of Westbrook has relieved me of that worry -- the city has the capsule in safe-keeping, and I'll be working with them on a follow-up article about what they found in the capsule (I can't wait to find out, myself!). They are indeed going to incorporate the time capsule into their bicentennial celebration this summer. Hooray!!!

Westbrook’s Pocket of Time

How may of us remember putting together a time capsule as a kid? Whether contributing to one as part of a class project or sealing up one no one else would ever know about, setting aside a piece of the present for a future self or someone else seems to be a habit of humans.

It seems that Mainers are no different. When I was skimming through the book Highlights of Westbrook History, compiled by Ernest R. Rowe, as part of an ongoing research project, I came across mention of a 100-year-old time capsule that is due to be opened very soon, on June 9, 2014, in honor of the city’s 200th anniversary. It seems unlikely that this memento from Victorian Westbrookians of a century past is remembered in the halls of their city government today. If it has indeed been forgotten, hopefully this article will serve as a timely reminder. Back in 1914, it took the people of the city only 4 months to plan and assemble their gala centennial celebration. Can the Westbrook of today do as well, given over 2 years’ advance notice? One can only hope!

On the chilly winter day of December 18, 1914, the centennial celebration of Westbrook’s continued existence was brought to a close when a sizable boulder, hauled from nearby Rocky
Hill during the earlier summertime festivities, was ceremoniously and firmly cemented onto a permanent base in Riverbank Park.

The base of the monument contained a small opening into which, before being sealed, was entrusted “a sealed box of heavy metal containing records of the Centennial Celebration, newspapers, photographs of the parade and a packet enclosed in lead foil.” What was in the packet? We will find out in 2014!

Also included in the box was a letter from William B. Bragdon, President of the Westbrook Board of Trade, in which he with great seriousness addresses Westbrook-to-be:
Westbrook, December 18, 1914
To whom it may concern or the community that may represent what was the City of Westbrook on the above date, which we trust may be considered in 2014 under the same name, City of Westbrook.

We give to you a greeting, and trust that the documents found within the sealed box, facts and figures may be of interest to all concerned. The document, herewith, came to hand late and therefore was not included with the contents of the box, as you will find.

The box and contents were sealed in the monument this day, December 18, 1914, (Friday).
Upon reading this tidbit in Highlights of Westbrook History, my first thought was to wonder whether or not the great stone still sat along the banks of the Presumpscot River. I and my friend Salli made a springtime fieldtrip to Riverbank Park in Westbrook, and without much difficulty we found the old boulder, still sporting its ceremonial metal plate after all these years, surrounded by early spring flowers and waiting patiently for its imminent upheaval.

[PHOTO: The very same boulder that was laboriously brought from Rocky Hill to serve as a marker for the time capsule in 1914, photographed in April 2011. The plaque documents the dedication of Riverbank Park in that same year.]

Will Westbrook refresh the time capsule within, updating its contents to reflect the pride and hopes of what has proved to be a fastmoving century of progress? Will the city fill the summer of 2014 with celebratory events as they did a century ago?

It was in February 1914 that the Anniversary Executive Committee was formed, and from it were pollinated an astounding 21 other committees, and from those sprang 7 sub-committees. Let it not be said that the citizens of Victorian Westbrook did not possess
organizational zeal!

The celebrations occurred across three days, June 7th through 9th, and included concerts, parades, speeches, baseball games, artillery drills, bayonet races (sounds hazardous!), an athletic meet, and finally, fireworks. I dug around in the microfilm reels at the Portland Room in the Portland Public Library, and found some highlights as reported in the Eastern Argus.

Baseball and canoes seem to have been popular focal points for the celebrations, with multiple games of the former being played at various levels of skill. For instance, “one of the big athletic events of the season was the ball game between the Calendar hands and the Truckmen of the coated calendar department of the paper mills on the Scotch Hill grounds Saturday afternoon.”

However, not all the athletic contests went smoothly – the much-vaunted June 8th afternoon revival of rivalry between the Old Presumpscot and the Old Yarmouth baseball teams, made up of players locally famous some 25 to 30 years previously, did not exactly bring the old-time “pep” to the playing field for the expected crowd of “hundreds of people who will go to any expense and trouble to see these oldtime stars in action again.”

The Eastern Argus reporter sadly announced the following day, “It is our painful duty to relate that the major portion of the Yarmouth team failed to arrive for the game, but after much waiting a team was made up of several old players and added to the Yarmouth line-up, and a five inning game was played.” The Presumpscots trounced the truant visiting team, 13 to 3, and the crowd appeared happy to entertain themselves razzing the old timers, who were -- to put it politely -- “not as active as in the years gone by.”

The June 8th issue of the Eastern Argus trumpeted the grand canoe pageant slated to occur that evening, “in which hundreds of decorated and illuminated canoes will take part. All canoe owners of Westbrook, Portland and vicinity are eligible to enter the races and the pageant.” Apparently the canoe owners weren’t as enthusiastic as the promoters, because the parade turned out to attract “more than a score” of canoes, a rather smaller total than what they had projected.

However, the canoes were rated as having been “handsomely decorated” and “brilliantly illuminated,” and had no shortage of admirers as they were paddled from the foot of River Street to the Cumberland Street bridge and back, “one of the most beautiful spectacles ever seen here,” and “a feature never before equaled on the Presumpscot.” The canoes weren’t the only evening attraction – the Westbrook City Band was towed ahead of the procession on a large float, lending musical festivities to the evening air.

Reinforcement police were called in from Portland, so even when 4,500 schoolchildren had to be organized into a parade on the 8th, events “were run off without mishap and in perfect order,” whether involving “fancy dancing” or an evening promenade of thousands of citizens en masse under the illuminated decorations and multi-color lights crisscrossing Main Street for almost its full length.

A number of parades and processions were liberally sprinkled through the event lists, and it is interesting to note that “hundreds of members of secret societies” partook in representing themselves, which brings to light that most interesting of phenomena, the very-public-but-secret societies of the Victorian era, a curiosity that was tremendously popular at that time, which still has a few survivors today.

Floats in the various parades were elaborate, some featuring miniature forests, trade products, or other decorative elements. Presumpscot Electrical Company’s large horsedrawn float was not only covered in red and white chrysanthemums, but also topped off with “all kinds of electrical implements.” Charles A. Vallee’s float, promoting his Rexall store, was rated as “one of the daintiest of the many” by the Eastern Argus’ reporter. The Ammoncongin Club’s float, decorated (of course) in club colors of purple and yellow, featured a canoe in which one Mrs. Leighton sat, reading a book as two “Indian maidens” faux-paddled her down the street.

S.D. Warren Company’s paper mills represented themselves somewhat dryly with a float showing off “boxes containing paper and surrounded with placards conveying the information that the mills furnish the paper for the standard periodicals,” while Benoit’s clothing company was more picturesquely present in the form of Sir Galahad riding upon a white horse, hearkening to their currently advertised line of stylish Galahad suits for men. Paul Lebarge’s float was topped with a giant imitation loaf of “Paul’s Bread” – I wonder if that’s sitting out in the back of someone’s barn still!

Other standout entries included that of Pike, the photographer, who went all out with a clown bearing a placard on which was printed: “Pike takes all kinds of faces. He took mine.” No doubt a few of the more literal-minded children spent the rest of their childhoods hoping that their parents didn’t take them to Pike’s, living in fear that after the photo they would be left with the face of a clown after Pike “took” their faces too.

An event that likely has few equivalents today is the series of hose-coupling contests which occupied the various local firefighting teams in competition on the 9th, which must have been quite dramatic for the watching crowd, occasioning as it did the only reported casualty of the festival, when Hoseman Sullivan of Hose 1 was “slightly injured” (according to one report) or “suffered a badly strained leg” (according to another report) and hurriedly taken to the Barrett Hospital for treatment.

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)* seized the opportunity to exhibit their collection of “rare and valuable historical relics” in their hall at Bridge and Maine streets, taking their place as one of the important features of the celebration, and reported via the Eastern Argus of June 9th that “nearly 1,000 people visited the rooms and much interest was taken in the display of implements of early warfare, minerals, etc.” I’d love to see some photos of that display.

Of especial interest to us is the fact that Riverbank Park, where our time capsule awaits revelation, was created during these festivities, and awarded to the citizens of Westbrook at that time. The dedication took place at 2:00pm on the afternoon of June 9th, and occasioned many speeches about Westbrook past and future.

While the ceremony opened, like many of the centennial events, with a prayer, one wonders about what toasts were exchanged as the party broke up. Did Westbrookians, as their founding fathers had 100 years before at another speechifying meeting opened with prayer, cheer the city’s charter and “pledge its future in a glass of New England rum”?

The creation of the park was not only meant as “a permanent memorial of this centennial,” an embodiment of 100 prosperous years, but also as part of a crusade by the current town fathers to retain a green and pleasant parkway for citizens to enjoy in perpetuity.

Speaking for his peers, the Hon. John E. Warren went on to relate how they aimed to border it with trees and prevent the dumping of waste in and around its perimeters. They worried that if these measures were not taken along the river’s gracious sides, “sooner or later houses will be built along this bank and ordinarily not of the best class. The location will not be sightly and, indeed, be very likely to degenerate in the slum of the city, if slum there be.”

Allow me to interject that this must have been a tremendously long speech if one judges from the extensive coverage of subjects mentioned in its reportage.

They imagined future citizens taking the parkway walks on their way to work or using them to wander away their free time in pleasant company. They imagined that the property holders of the north bank, the S. D. Warren Mill Trust, would use the riverbank in ways that “will not be detrimental to this stretch of the river.” They speculated about the likelihood that the growing neighbor city of Portland would absorb Westbrook and wipe out its identity, but decided that they “hardly think that this will be the case” in the end.

Be all that as it may, it was finally time to commemorate the event, and for the longwinded Hon. John E. Warren, to bring his speech to a close. “We have brought to mark this event from near the crest of Rocky Hill a great boulder of hard granite and have imbedded in one of its faces a tablet of imperishable bronze, “… the stone carrying in itself a record of the fierce ordeal through which it passed.”

Even in the midst of this most formal and definite occasion, the speaker speculated on what was apparently a personal interest, and what can only have been the subject of romantic terrestrial ponderings during his speech writing: “…I take it that our Presumpscot valley has a geological history of peculiar interest which has not yet been written.” Indeed.

Not yet done, Warren continued, prophesying what the Westbrookians of 2014 might do given another 100 years of prosperity (and I abbreviate his speech for him, for without that merciful cut, you, dear reader, would find yourself a-snoring like Rip Van Winkle):

“The people will again gather … and another tablet will be imbedded in one of the sides of the old boulder commemorating the event.” He imagined that the future citizens will be akin to those standing before him, the men and women of 1914, with familiar names still among them, going to the same schoolhouses, the same churches, traveling the same streets. He envisioned a bridge across the river, and new public buildings and additional school facilities built on the other side of the bank.

“There will still be paper mills at the lower dam and textile mills on the upper, for the industries which we maintain do not rest upon any passing condition. … They will not have wholly forgotten us, and life will go on much as today. … The old boulder will still be here and probably on the spot where we are placing it. It has already existed for no one knows how many thousands of years and it will suffer no impairment with the passing of centuries. … Their faces will still be set to the front but looking back on that occasion they will in spirit clasp the hand which we reach out to them today.”

Wouldn’t he be surprised by where and who we are today?

Well, no doubt the crowd needed a good waking up after that, and as the evening closed it brought with its end the much vaunted fireworks display let loose as a finale. The Eastern Argus had published a very serious-sounding warning from the Fireworks Committee in its June 8th issue, talking much of the “simultaneous discharge of fifty immense 54-pound rockets” and the dire consequences if anyone should be hit by these during their flight (just imagine!), and banning any boats or canoes from coming within 500 feet of the exhibit “except at their own risk” – in other words, if you’re that crazy, go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose!

The display was rated one of the biggest displays of fireworks ever seen in Maine, and closed dramatically when “a most remarkable battle between a fort constructed on the north shore of the river and a battleship on a raft in the river was fought” for its finale.

So, in closing – hope to see you all in Riverbank Park at the amazing festivities in Westbrook a few years from now!

*[Editor’s Note: The G.A.R. was founded in 1866 following the Civil War as a veterans’ organization, which for many years helped vets network with each other, in the process becoming very influential in political races of the time. The group was dissolved in 1956
upon the death of its last member, and is succeeded by other organizations that focus on
the veterans’ descendants.]

Labels: , , , , , ,

Review: Forgotten on the Kennebec by David Fiske

Review: Forgotten on the Kennebec: Abandoned Places and Quirky People
by David Fiske

reviewed by Michelle Souliere

This slender volume is an excellent addition to the library of anyone who enjoys exploring the history of Maine for themselves. While many tomes of Maine history spend their pages listing dusty names and dates, this little book will literally take you to the very sites of the history itself.

Focusing on the Kennebec River area, it selects three choice locations which are open to public entry and proceeds to give the reader not only an overview of each spot's history but also capsule portraits of notary personages that were associated with each location. With this approach, author David Fiske provides just enough practical information to get visitors to the spot in question, and allows the reader to explore the land on foot, while giving a taste of the personalities that helped shape and inhabit the landscape. In this way he paints a picture of how the now-empty structures were once filled with life and history in the making.

The three locations that Fiske turns his attention to include some of Maine's old fortifications, still standing, and one island which once housed a township, where today birds and wildlife roam among long-abandoned buildings: Fort Popham and Fort Baldwin in Phippsburg, Maine, Fort Western and the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, Maine, and Perkins Township on Swan Island, offshore from Richmond, Maine.

Each section is peppered with photos taken by the author at the location, and illuminated with quick prose sketches that clearly flesh out the historic lay of the land and its personality. This slim volume will tuck easily into any day-explorer's backpack, and while it won't add much weight to your pack, it will undoubtedly add to your enjoyment of a few of Maine's quieter historic spots, where the state's history waits for you to discover it in person.

Another nifty feature is the inclusion of a bibliography with each section, allowing readers to research the locations’ history further at will. This is a real bonus for amateur historians, and is an often overlooked element in standard guidebooks.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

THURSDAY: A celebration of Rick Hautala

Please join the crowd at Southern Maine Community College later this week, when the campus will host an evening Celebration of Rick Hautala, closely following the one-year anniversary of his death in 2013.

WHEN: March 27, 2014 starting @ 7:00pm
WHAT: Friends, fans, students, and faculty will get together at the campus community center to read and reminisce about Rick, and discuss the many contributions he made to the community and to the horror genre.
WHERE: Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) -- The Campus Center is located at 2 Fort Rd, South Portland, ME 04106, and the event is being held in the Learning Commons, which is on the 2nd floor of the Campus Center.

More information about Rick and the event can be found online here:

A PDF map of the SMCC campus is here:

Anyone who wishes to read the post I wrote on this blog following his death last March can do so here:

Rick at NECON 2006

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Maine Ghost Hunters brunch series!

Since we're looking at filling up your calendars with fun stuff until spring finally lets us all thaw out, here's another great little event to add to the calendar.

On selective Sunday mornings this spring, Maine Ghost Hunters is holding a casual brunch potluck get-together at Merkaba Sol in Augusta, Maine. The next one is on March 16th. Those who have attended these events before can tell you that it's a fun chance to catch up with the group, meet new folks with similar interests, and a great excuse to get out of the house!

For more information, and to complete the necessary minimal pre-registration, see their Meetup page here:

WHEN: Sunday, March 16, 2014, from 10:00-11:00am
WHERE: Merkaba Sol, 153 Water Street, Augusta, Maine
COST: Pre-registration is an easy $2.00 per person

Maine Ghost Hunters is inviting you to join them every other Sunday at Merkaba Sol for a light potluck brunch and some paranormal chat. They'll be running these bi-weekly scheduled brunches through mid-April. Here are the details:

Who can attend: Maine Ghost Hunters meetup members, and friends if they're 18 years or older.

What to expect: It's a potluck breakfast event -- brunch time! All participants are requested to bring a non-beverage item to share with other members.

Why they're doing it: Because of popular request! And because it's a great opportunity for MGH to connect with members of the community. Let's get together and share ghost stories!

Fee Per Person: $2.00 if you RSVP on the meetup site (this site), or $5.00 per person at the door on the day of the event. (They'd really rather have everyone who's coming RSVP ahead of time so they can get an advance head count)

MGH will provide: Cups for cold and hot beverages, paper plates, plastic utensils, and napkins, as well as coffee, milk, and juice.

In the past, their coffee house meet ups have been popular and quite successful, so they're revisiting this oldie but goodie, but with a Merkaba twist. This helps avoid problems with having enough seating, and all the other complications that arise from using non-dedicated public cafe spaces as they have in the past. They'll have tables and chairs set up, and maybe even a TV from time to time, where everyone can review Maine Ghost Hunters footage, investigation evidence, and ZeroLux Paranormal episodes together. Who knows, maybe you'll even get the skinny on what happened "behind the scenes", "before this happened", or "after this happened"…. your questions, answered by investigators who were there when the footage was shot. Pretty cool stuff!

And, of course, they would love it if YOU brought in your paranormal pictures, videos, and audio evidence to share with the group. If you have something to share, or you want an opinion on something you've collected for evidence, bring it along! That's what the meet-ups are for - sharing experiences, talking about what brought everyone to the paranormal field, and all of those reasons everyone has for being a part of the Maine Ghost Hunters meetup.

Upcoming Ghost Hunts in Bath, Maine

Hi everyone! Well, if it hasn't already tied you up in knots, the cabin fever season is getting ready to shift to SPRING FEVER season! I know, it's still really cold out, but the birds are getting wound up every morning, and I saw a flock of robins the other day -- and I trust the birds to know what's going on with the weather.

If your mind has been turning from hibernation to re-emerging into the world as the sun stays out longer each day, sometimes it helps to have something to plan ahead and look forward to.

With that in mind, the folks at Mysterious Destinations have been cooking up a schedule for 2014, and instead of waiting for the warm weather, they're going to kick it off later this month -- because there's no time like the present!

From March through October, they will be hosting one Midnight Explore a month at the Winter Street Center in Bath. The sessions will also be a fundraiser for maintenance and improvements at the Winter Street Center, which is part of Sagadahoc Preservation.

More information can be found here:

Exploration dates include:
March 22, April 25, May 17, June 6, July 12, August 9, September 27, October 24 and 31 (Halloween!)

Join the Mysterious Destinations team for a Midnight Explore at the haunted Winter Street Center in Bath. From 9:00pm to 12:00 midnight, two floors of documented paranormal activity will offer plenty of chances for new evidence to be found by YOU, after a brief training session about paranormal detection equipment, how to use it, and the history of the building.

MysteriousDestinations will provide a variety of equipment for guests, though participants are also encouraged to bring their own gear, with cameras and flashlights recommended. The price for the Midnight Explore is only $35 per person with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Winter Street Center. Hot coffee, bottled water and light refreshments will be provided. For necessary pre-registration, please call (207)380-4677 or email for information.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Upcoming New England graveyard lectures!

Spirits Alive has just announced three upcoming Saturday afternoon lectures. The talks will explore aspects of Colonial New England burial grounds: customs and symbolism in stones, stone cutter Bartlett Adams, and the status of Portland's small burial grounds.
Stone for Andrew Mackie's Family Tomb, Eastern Cemetery, Portland
WHEN: Saturdays (monthly as listed below), 1:30 - 3:00pm
WHERE: University of Southern Maine, Abromson Center, Wishcamper Building - Room 102, 34 Bedford Street, Portland Maine
COST: Suggested donation: $5.00 per person

Series dates:

January 25: “The Art, History, and Symbolism of Early New England Gravestones”
Presented by the Gravestone Girls - Melissa Anderson, Maggie White, and Brenda Sullivan

February 22: “Bartlett Adams: Portland’s First Stone Cutter”
Exploring the life, times, and works of the shop of Bartlett Adams, who maintained his shop in Portland, Maine from 1800 to 1828. Lecturer: Ron Romano, member of Spirits Alive Board and Summer Tour Docent

March 29: “The Status and Future of Portland's Forgotten Cemeteries”
A panel of cemetery representatives will discuss several historic small burial grounds in the area and what is takes to restore them to our cultural landscape.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Event: HauntME @ McArthur Library TONIGHT!

WHAT: Haunt ME at the McArthur Library After Dark!
WHEN: TONIGHT! Weds, October 30, 2013 @ 6:00-8:00
WHERE: McArthur Public Library, 270 Main Street, Biddeford, ME
COST: Free and open to the public
FMI: (207)284-4181 or

Join Haunt ME at the McArthur Library in Biddeford for a special early premiere of our Season 2 episode, in which we investigate the historic library to see what spirits may be lurking amongst the shelves and reading rooms! Episode will be followed by a Q&A session with the Haunt ME team. Come meet the ghost hunters and see what they've found! A perfect way to spend a spooky pre-Halloween evening...

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By golly, ONE MORE Halloween 2013 event!

WHAT: Shoestring Theater Annual Halloween Parade
WHEN: helpers @5:30, folks already in costume & bystanders 6:00 sharp!!!
WHERE: 155 Brackett Street, Portland, Maine
COST: Free and open to the public!

Every year the residents of Portland's West End neighborhood are treated to a wild hootenanny of marching masked revelers as the Shoestring Theater's annual parade makes its winding way from its homebase at 155 Brackett Street (in the parking lot beside Fresh Approach Market) into the wilds and sidestreets of the West.

As the sun sets, the hooligans and neighbors gather. As the dark sets in, the drums start to rattle, horns trumpet out, and howls and happy yells echo from between the old houses and trees. Trick or treaters gape and interrupt their candy gathering to stare (though only briefly). Stiltwalkers strut, tricycles and wagons are welcome, and everyone should come ready for some freeform Halloween fun!!!

I talked to Nance Parker (well, our voicemails talked to eachother, haha), and she said, "Yes, the parade is on!" Every year the theater has to apply for a permit for a police escort to do the parade properly and safely.

One thing Nance wanted to make sure you all know is that "we really need people to help MAKE the parade!" In other words, if you can go early and help them organize everyone into their spots and help with handing out costume parts and instruments, and help escort everyone in the group, or assist in working some of the parade's bigger creations as the parade moves through the neighborhood, Nance says, "We would so dearly appreciate it!"

If you want to help out, come along a little early, at 5:30pm, and get everyone ready for the 6:00 departure en masse! It's a really good time no matter what you're doing.

Wondering what the parade is like? It's crazy wonderful! But check it out, starting with early preparation and going through the march itself in this great video from 2009:

Shoestring Theater's Annual Halloween Parade from Aaron Woodbury on Vimeo.

For an example of what the parade sounds like, there is a video from the 2007 parade that has a live soundtrack recorded on site:

One last Halloween 2013 event!

Fans of Maine supernatural lore know that there are a few classic Maine ghost story books that are staples in any Mainer's library. One of those is the perennial Maine Ghosts and Legends by Thomas Verde. Well guess what? The author is re-releasing the book in time for Halloween, and is making an appearance here in Portland at Longfellow Books, TOMORROW NIGHT! Fans of the original book may want to pick a new copy up -- my old edition has 126 pages, while the new 2nd edition counts in at 160 pages, and the prior edition had 26 stories, while this one features a total of 30 tales! This means there is some new material in this edition, and maybe even some updates to the old stories (pure optimistic speculation!!!).

WHAT: Maine Ghosts & Legends by Thomas Verde
WHEN: Wednesday, October 30th @ 7:00pm
WHERE: Longfellow Books, One Monument Way, Portland, ME
COST: Free and open to the public
FMI: (207)772-4045

Maine has a rich supernatural history and ghost stories from the state are as varied as they are prolific. Freelance writer and reporter Tom Verde first became interested in such eerie occurrences while researching first-hand encounters with ghosts for a series of public radio programs.

•The dagger-wielding shade who terrorized a Portland couple
•The murdered Indian who revisited Means’s Tavern
•Famed diva Lillian Nordica, whose voice still echoes through the Farmington auditorium named in her honor
•The hostile spirit who tried to frighten the tenants out of an Orrington house
•Even an entire phantom ship, bound eternally for Freeport

These are not fictitious creations of literary imagination. People from all walks of life—including many who were positive they would never believe in ghosts—attest to these encounters.

Join us for a spooky pre-Halloween evening reading of Maine ghost stories with author Thomas Verde! As always, Longfellow Books events are free and open to the public.


If you are wondering which three classic Maine ghost books I'm speaking of, they are:

Ghosts on the Coast of Maine by Carol Olivieri Schulte
The Supernatural Side of Maine by C.J. Stevens
and of course Verde's Maine Ghosts and Legends: 26 Encounters with the Supernatural!

There are other books written more recently, but these 3 are the triumvirate I have had on hand for years and years. [NOTE: Quite frankly, I especially do not recommend Stansfield's Haunted Maine, unless you want to read a book by someone from away who embellished and misappropriated existing stories, some of which are not based in Maine at all, although he says they were. Take your chances with him as you wish, purely for entertainment value, but know that he wrote many of the tales with liberal misdirection.]

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween 2013: Round #2!

WHAT: The Improvised Puppet Project presents: Puppets & Poe!
WHEN: Sunday, October 27, 2013 @ 6:00pm
WHERE: Acorn Theater, 90 Bridge St Westbrook, ME
COST: $10 per person, all ages
FMI: (207) 854-0065 or

New Hampshire's Stranger Than Fiction Improv and Comedy joins the Improvised Puppet Project for a two-in-one night of improvised horror!

Edgar Allan Bingoe
Officially Edgar Allen Poe only wrote one novel, but the cast of Stranger Than Fiction will reveal a previously unknown work, perhaps the strangest, darkest, and funniest work of his career. On a dark and stormy night, detective E. Francois Roget is mysteriously called to the crumbling House of Forsythe to deal with a terrible unknown calamity. But what is the calamity? There are so many!

Puppets of Terror
The usually charming and harmless puppets of the IPP show their dark side in this improvised tale of terror. Tell us what scares you -- if you dare! -- and we'll spin you a story that will haunt your Halloween!


WHAT: Mysterious Destinations: Midnight Explore at Winter Street Center
WHEN: Oct. 26 from 9:00pm - 12:00 midnight
WHERE: Winter Street Center, Bath, ME
COST: $35, by reservation only. Call (207)380-4677 or email

Join the Mysterious Destinations team for a Midnight Explore at the haunted Winter Street Center in Bath. Two floors of documented paranormal activity will offer plenty of chances for new evidence to be found by YOU, after a brief training about paranormal detection equipment, how to use it, and the history of the building.

Mysterious Destinations will provide a variety of equipment for guests, though participants are also encouraged to bring their own gear, with cameras and flashlights recommended. The price for the Midnight Explore is only $35 per person with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Winter Street Center. Hot coffee, bottled water and light refreshments will be provided. By reservation only, 207-380-4677,

A “Haunted Combo” is an additional option which includes a Red Cloak Haunted History Walking Tour of Bath before the Midnight Explore, only an extra $10 if you do both. For more information on the Bath walking tours, go to

PLUS!!! ....

WHAT: Mysterious Destinations: Overnight with Myrtle
WHEN: 5:00pm October 26 to 11:00am October 27, 2013
WHERE: The Tipsy Butler B&B and the Newcastle Publick House, Newcastle, ME
COST: Call (207)380-4677 to inquire

Only 1 room left!!

How often do you get to spend the night at a haunted house with a history of paranormal activity? How often would you be able to do this during Halloween season? And, how often would you be able to join the adventure and use specialized equipment to document any paranormal activity? Join Mysterious Destinations at the Tipsy Butler B&B and the Newcastle Publick House, both haunted by Myrtle! Includes dinner and breakfast. By reservation only.


WHAT: Longfellow's Haunted House: An Evening Based on the Poem Haunted Houses
WHEN: October 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, tours from 6:00-7:30pm
COST: $10 per person, by reservation only. Please call (207)774-1822 x212 to buy tickets.

Don't miss this unique evening tour of the Longfellow House in the week leading up to Halloween! Based on Longfellow's poem, "Haunted Houses" -- "All houses wherein men have lived and died / Are haunted houses" -- the 90-minute tour will be led by seasoned guide James Horrigan. It will bring to life the various family members that died in the Wadsworth-Longfellow over its long history.

There are only five tour evenings: October 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, from 6-7:30 PM. RSVPs are required and each tour is limited to 12. Admission fee of $10 pp is payable at the door. To reserve a spot, call 207-774-1822 ext. 212.

Don't miss this unique evening tour of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in the week leading up to Halloween! Based on Longfellow's poem, Haunted Houses -- "All houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses" -- the 90-minute tour will be led by seasoned guide James Horrigan. It will highlight the various family members that died in the house over its long history. Recommended for ages 12 and older. Tour times, admission, and details online.


WHAT: Walk Among the Shadows IV: Souls at Sea
WHEN: October 24-26 & 30-31, 6:30pm - 7:30pm, and Sunday, October 27, 5:00pm - 6:00pm
WHERE: Eastern Cemetery gates, 224 Congress Street, Portland, ME
COST: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under

Hear tales of long-dead residents inside the oldest resting place in Portland. Yes, folks, it's back! Walk Among the Shadows allows the brave to travel Funeral Lane at night.

Led by hooded specters, the strong of heart will hear ghosts of the past tell their eerie Civil War-time tales among the dimly lit ancient stones. Fun for the whole family! Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under. There are no presales, so arrive early to find a parking space and get a chance to enter the gates with a group.

How does it work?

+ Dress warmly!
+ Meet at the Congress Street gate
+ The line begins to form by 6:15pm each night so the first group is ready to go through at 6:30pm
+ First-come, first-served!
+ The event is not scary and is appropriate for children of all ages
+ Groups will proceed into the site every 15 minutes led by a silent specter; groups of about 12 will go through; prepare to wait in line on busy nights!
+ Tickets are $10, children under 12 are $5
+ Tours last about 45 minutes to 1 hour
+ Wear appropriate layers and footwear — it gets chilly when the sun goes down, and you'll be trekking down Funeral Lane, a dirt pathway
+ Tours may be canceled because of rain or snow(!)
+ Our specters, gate helpers, organizers, and actors (everyone, that is) are all volunteers! Half of all proceeds raised go to Spirits Alive to help them maintain, improve, and preserve the Eastern Cemetery and the other half go to Acorn Productions, a non-profit performing arts group.


WHAT: Wicked Walking Tours
WHEN: Fridays & Saturdays @ 8:00pm, Sundays @ 7:00pm, PLUS Weds & Thurs, Oct 30 & 31, special 8:00pm tour time!
WHERE: 72 Commercial Street, Portland, ME at Bell Buoy Park.
COST: $15, reservations required. Call ShowClix at (888)718-4253 or visit
FMI: or (207)730-0490

Learn about Portland's dark legends and ghostly tales during a twisted tour through the Old Port.

WHEN: 8 p.m. today to Saturday and Tuesday to Oct. 29; 7 p.m. Oct. 30; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31

Meet at Bell Buoy Park near Casco Bay Lines, Portland. Look for your guide, who will be carrying a lantern -- there is no sign in the park. The park is between the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal and Ri-Ra/Flatbread restaurants.

The tour's length is LESS than half a mile. A 90-year-old grandmother with a bad leg and a cane walked the tour, and so can you! Tour ending times vary, based on size of group. Tour is suitable for all ages.


WHAT: Junkins Haunted Estate
WHEN: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights October 25-27, and Weds & Thurs October 30-31. Doors open @6:30pm
WHERE: 87 Wilson Road, Kittery, ME
COST: Free admission (donations graciously accepted)
FMI: or email

Once again, the Junkins Haunted Estate gates again swing wide open to the swamp!! At 6:30pm, meet your creepy hosts! The screaming goes on until about 9:00, weather permitting.

There will be a kid-friendly special hour for the little ones on October 30th at 5:00pm.

Families are welcome and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Over two acres of Halloween decorations grace the estate grounds. But don’t let the friendly spook decorations that you see from the safety of your car fool you. If you want any candy, it’s up to you to travel a quarter mile through the haunted swamp! Follow the luminaries towards the woods, and cross the bridge into the swamp. Darkness will surround you and the cold swamp air will chill you to your bones! Oh, and by the way... they WILL be waiting for you!


WHAT: Haunted Campground
WHEN: October 25 and 26, 5:00-9:00pm, with an "adults only" Rocky Horror showing on the 25th at 9:30pm
WHERE: 620 Commercial St., Rockport, ME
COST: $10 per adult, $5 each for kids under 12 years old

Megunticook hosts their first annual Haunted Campground this year!

Haunted hayride...Haunted Village...Costume Contests....And an outdoor viewing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Its sure to be a ghoulish good time! Get ready to scream!!!


WHAT: Ghostly Bangor walking tour
WHEN: Thurs Oct 24, Sat Oct 26, Mon Oct 28, Wed Oct 30, 2013. Tours start at 7:00pm
WHERE: Meets at the Thomas A. Hill House at 159 Union Street, Bangor, ME
COST: $10 adult non-BMHC-members, $8 BMHC members, $5 children under 12 years, those under 5 years old are FREE!

Tickets can be purchased here:

Prepare for the paranormal! Follow a winding path through haunted Bangor and stop at several sites to hear tales of ghostly activity on this special tour. You may even see a spectre or two who will tell their tales of tragedy and explain why the haunting still occurs. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, one thing is for certain - some former residents of Bangor are still around, trapped here either by their own will or circumstance and have something to say to the living. Bring a friend or come alone...if you dare!

Please dress accordingly (warmly!!!) and wear comfortable walking shoes.


WHAT: Mount Hope at Twilight walking tour
WHEN: Friday, October 25: tour starts at 5:00pm.
WHERE: Tours meet at the Mt Hope Superintendent's Office at 1048 State Street
COST: $10 adult non-BMHC-members, $5 children under 12 years, BMHC members & those under 5 years old are FREE!

Buy tickets here:

Take a most unusual tour of the second oldest Garden Cemetery in the country and meet some of the lesser known residents. See the sights you would not get to see on just any given day. Hear the tales of the lost, forgotten, and murdered in Bangor's history. Walk the faint trails of the Public Grounds area, see the gravesite of Bangor's first murder victim, and listen to the tales of the city's unwanted and unknown found in Stranger's Row. Recommended for ages 12 and up.


WHAT: The Raven, Ghouls and Renewal: Pagan Poems & Stories for Halloween
WHEN: Sunday, October 27 @ 7:30pm
WHERE: Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland
COST: $7 per person, $4 each for students and seniors
FMI: (207)233-4965

Join the Poets Theater of Maine and channel the Pagan spirit of Samhain for a night of Halloween stories and dramatic performances.

Labels: ,