This article originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of the Strange Maine Gazette.
It’s not uncommon for me to collect new and interesting stories from friends and strangers as I make my rounds with fresh issues of the Gazette. Earlier this year, Matt told me of his terrifying experience in one of his hometown’s cemeteries. He was deadly serious when he told me this story, which is one of the reasons why, come Halloween time, it came to mind again. He was kind enough to take the time to sit down and record his account for me.
About a year ago (Saturday, October 20th, 2007, I believe), my brother Mike, his now ex-fiance, and I decided to take a walk in the Riverside cemetery near my old apartment in Lewiston. It was a crisp Autumn afternoon, sunny with a slight nip in the air -- nice walking weather.Ironically, when I went online to see if I could come up with any imagery of the Libby Mausoleum, the only thing I found was a photo on Flickr.com by an acquaintance of mine, which was accompanied by the tale of an injury she incurred while trying to take a photo of the mausoleum. Uncanny, you say to yourself, as did I.
We entered the cemetery at the Summer Street entrance and took the first right, down past the winter storage sheds, then took a left along the edge of the hill, toward the river. We stopped at a nice, quiet plot with a small stone bench. I picked up an empty 24-pack of Natural Ice beer that some bozo had no doubt dumped the night before, and put it in the trash.
After a minute or two, we continued on our way and turned right along the side of the river. A leashless dog came running toward us, followed a moment later by its owner. The owner caught up to her dog just as it started to squat down and relieve itself in front of someone’s tombstone.
As soon as the owner was out of earshot, I commented to Mike and Nikki about how disrespectful it was to let one’s dog defecate on a burial plot, and not even have the decency to clean it up. They agreed. This led me to mention the kicked-in stained glass windows on the doors to the Libby Mausoleum.
Neither Mike nor Nikki had ever seen the Mausoleum, so I decided to lead them up to the secluded glen where it lies. Almost immediately after we got there, I started to get the feeling that we weren’t welcome.
There was a tension building in the air, and I felt like someone was glaring at me. Nikki was picking up on it too, and decided to attempt to communicate with the presence. I started to get really cold, and told Mike and Nikki that I was getting some really bad vibes off the place. When Nikki lit up a cigarette, I felt a shift come over the air, like it had become charged, and I felt my stomach bottom out.
I had turned around and was actually walking away from the crypt when I heard Nikki yelp, followed by a loud cracking noise. I turned just in time to see Nikki running towards me as the top half of a birch tree snapped off and came crashing down where we had been standing. As the shock of what had just happened started to sink in, I became acutely aware that the presence I had felt at the mausoleum was now bearing down on the three of us.
I started to run as hard as I could, occasionally looking over my shoulder to see if Mike and Nikki were okay. I never actually saw anything tangible, but still got the sense that, whoever or whatever it was, was not very far behind me until I had passed the winter storage shed.
The chill I felt while at the crypt lingered with me for the next day or so. I couldn’t stay warm. Nikki also could not keep warm, and she claimed that she could still feel the presence lingering about her for a few hours after the encounter.
She pulled something in her leg while climbing the short slope to the tomb’s entryway, and the self-timer on the camera snapped its shot as she grabbed at her leg in pain. She comments, “I heard, did not feel, heard, a huge crack and then snap. For a fraction of a second I though my calf had cramped up. Then the pain came!”
So is the Libby Mausoleum cursed? It seems more likely that perhaps it harbors a jealous and protective guardian spirit that is sick of vandals and even the most innocent gawkers intruding upon the peace of the mausoleum’s location.
The disrespect shown to Riverside Cemetery’s “guests” (as their website refers to the buried dead, see http://riverside.marshallsonline.org) is not uncommon in Maine’s graveyards, but to those who find solace in these quiet places, and to those like myself who use them as a source in field research, this behavior is effectively destroying connections with our history. Riverside’s caretakers have openly announced a $500 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the culprits of the latest wave of Riverside Cemetery vandalism.