Ghosts that haunt Maine islands
BOOTHBAY—Sally Lobkowicz, Director of Red Cloak Haunted History Tours and better known as “The Lady in the Red Cloak” has had great success in turning Maine’s ghost stories into a full-time profession. With the help of her husband, author and paranormal investigator Greg Latimer, they run evening walking tours in eight Maine villages including Camden and Rockland.
In early June, Lobkowicz and Latimer took their show on the water for a once-a-year Maine island and lighthouse tour around Boothbay harbor with a twist: each of the islands on this boat tour had some deep, dark secrets.
As the charter boat The Novelty ventured into the bay, Lobkowicz began pointing out the haunted history of certain islands. On Ram Island, witnesses have reported seeing a “Woman in White” standing on the rocks who appears with an inexplicable light to warn ships from danger — sort of a ghostly incarnation of a lighthouse herself.
“Even before the lighthouse was built on Ram Island, it is said she appeared on the ledges to save boaters and fishermen waving her arms,” Lobkowicz said. “Fires were reported seen from the rocks and even one person said he’d hear some kind of fog whistle before a fog whistle was ever installed here.”
With the Pemaquid Point lighthouse in the distance, Lobkowicz told of a “shivering woman in a red shawl” who has been seen near the fireplace of the keeper’s house seemingly wet and distressed.
Perhaps the most disturbing and fascinating of Maine’s collection of ghost stories is the tale of what happened on Seguin Island near the Cuckold islands. Centuries before the film “So I Married An Axe Murderer” became a cult classic, a lighthouse had been built on Seguin Island in 1795. A lighthouse keeper’s life was a lonely one, and one keeper’s wife was very depressed, so he arranged for a piano to be shipped out to the island to occupy his wife’s time. Turns out, he regretted that decision.
As she could only play by reading sheet music and there was only one song that arrived with the piano, the keeper’s wife played that same song over and over day and night until the keeper went mad and chopped the piano to bits. Then, he murdered his wife with the axe. Afterward, he finished himself off. To this day, visitors on the island and boaters nearby have reported hearing eerie piano music emanating from the island.
Burnt Island, where the charter boat stopped for 90 minutes to let passengers explore, also has its ghosts including phantom steps heard in the walkway connecting the lighthouse to the keeper’s house, a ghost that screamed the lightkeeper’s name and woke him and his wife in the middle of the night when the light had gone out, and the strange occurreance of people’s watches stopping at 2 a.m. along with auditory and visual phenomena occurring at 2 a.m.
Lobkowicz, a researcher, who specializes in geneology, obtained information on these hauntings a variety of ways. “There’s not too much firsthand information because the stories are so old and there aren’t many lighthouse keepers around these days,” she said. “Most of them are documented online, but a few of the keepers wrote books as well. As they were required to keep detailed logbooks, there is a lot of firsthand information in those. And, the Pemaquid Light, which I mentioned, some of those stories are firsthand, taken from people who have stayed in the apartments and reported mysterious happenings. As for the Seguin island story, I was also able to get some information from the Coast Guard, from caretakers of islands and even yachters, who have said they can hear the piano music.”
The tour, which went beyond its “Legends and Lore” theme into supernatural territory, was the only one Red Cloak Haunted Tours, had the time and logistics to run this summer. The next time they will offer a lighthouse and island tour through Maine Maritime Museum starts in the fall.
On July 5, Lobkowicz will be speaking on legends, lore, history, and more of various Maine lighthouses at the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. FMI: www.redcloaktours.com/lighthouses
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org