Monday, September 08, 2008

Haunted Tours in Portland!

Hello all -- we are pleased to announce that Gordon Tweedie is once again running his excellent walking tours of Portland's Old Port and waterfront areas. You can find them online at Wicked Walking Tours. Tours depart nightly at 8:00pm from Bell Buoy Park in front of the ferry terminal (by Flatbread Pizza and RiRa's on Commercial Street), and are about an hour and a quarter in length. Call to find out details about other tour times and daytime tours in season.

For questions or to make reservations, call (207)730-0490, or check out As the flyer notes, “your credit is no good in the afterlife,” so tickets are cash only ($15; $13 for seniors and children under 12).

I wrote a review of the tours for The Bollard last fall, and was pleased to hear that Tweedie had started them up again for the summer season into the fall this year. Here's my review, for those of you who missed it:
A Wicked Treat for October Wanderers
By Michelle Souliere

The fog came curling in off Portland Harbor as I waited by the ferry terminal to meet the guide for Portland’s new Wicked Walking Tours. It was the perfect night for a tour of old Portland’s haunted waterfront streets. Ships moved in and out of the pier slips with their lights glowing softly as I sat on a wooden bench. Across the water came the mournful sound of fog horns.

Raising high a lantern, Gordon Tweedie introduced himself. His resume is impressive. Tweedie is an accomplished baritone, and has toured extensively in both Europe and the U.S. He currently teaches at the Portland Conservatory of Music. He created Wicked Walking Tours with a tiny start-up budget, spent entirely on printing full-color flyers and posters, which he has sown around Portland at hotels and other public spots. Like a spell cast wide, his colorful lures draw people in a few at a time. Like me, they are enticed by a unique chance to hear about a side of Portland’s history few among the living know about.

Tweedie's tale-telling is woven from a variety of sources. In addition to poking around at the Maine Historical Society, he has painstakingly collected scores of ghost stories from people who live and work downtown. The stories are many and varied, from office workers who have seen the Jolly Roger sailing past their third floor conference room windows, to spectral traces of escapees from one of Portland’s great fires, doomed to repeat their hurried exits over and over again.

Other tales are woven from documented historic events, or are retellings of lore about past Portland personalities. The flyer advertises such eerie delicacies as a disembodied diva, a ghostly pirate ship, a cursed society lady, and a minister who escaped Indian attacks only to be subsequently burned as a witch. (While no witches were actually burned down in Salem, it is true that in the late 1600s, during the witchcraft craze, onetime Portland resident and minister George Burroughs was hanged as one of the accused after being roughly hauled away from his Wells dinner table. These are the kind of facts you don’t find on plaques commemorating local history.)

The tour is well worth the hour-and-a-quarter spent in Tweedie’s company. He is an inventive entertainer who can pick up and drop an accent with ease, and he tells his tales with obvious enthusiasm. The walking tour provided good opportunities to check out the backsides of buildings one seldom sees in the course of everyday travels. It wends its way around the Old Port, focusing on the wharves, Commercial Street, Fore Street, Exchange Street, and their connecting lanes, stopping here and there for a little storytelling along the way.

Photo by Michelle Souliere

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