DAMARISCOTTA — If you happen to see a mysterious figure in a red cloak wandering through a cemetery in the weeks leading up to Halloween, do not be alarmed. Her name is Sally.
Ten years ago, Sally Lobkowicz, an experienced genealogy researcher living in Damariscotta, was working part time as a substitute teacher and providing elder care when she felt compelled to take her career in another direction. She found it by setting up walking tours that would share her love of history, but not just Maine history...haunted Maine history. She found a red cloak, a unique branding element, and launched Red Cloak Haunted History Tours in Damariscotta, taking people both native and from away on lantern-lit evening tours of historic sites and ghostly haunts.
“It just snowballed from there,” said Lobkowicz, who now offers the evening walking tours in eight villages of Maine, including Camden and Rockland. In addition, she offers daytime tours, cemetery tours and private tours with the help of seven other red-caped tour guides she employs to be her surrogates.
Lobkowicz began looking into local ghost stories after hearing tales from locals. “I discovered that there are quite a lot of buildings that people feel are haunted in each of these towns, and some of the stories are quite chilling,” she said. “There are also plenty of interesting historic tales to recall.”
The tours take people through back streets and by buildings that even most locals don’t know have connections to hauntings. Take, for example, the Camden Post Office.
“There are a couple of different stories related to the post office,” she said. “It had a couple of jail cells in the basement used as a temporary holding area. There was also one death in that building.” See Camden historian Barbara Dyer’s story about its construction 100 years ago in a Pen Bay Pilot story.
And in Rockland, Lobkowicz knows of one house that is haunted — by a dog. “This lady shared with me that she has a ghost of a dog in her apartment,” she said. “In the night, she has felt the impression of a dog jumping up and laying down at the end of her bed. She said she discovered the woman who owned the apartment before her had a little dog and and that she and the dog passed on the same day.”
Unlike other pararnormal investigators who can “sense” a ghostly presence without equipment, Lobkowicz is forthright that her main focus is on the haunted history of a place.
“I have very little sensitivity to the spirits around us,” she said. “I’m more researched based, but my husband, Greg [Latimer], does have a little more sensitivity than I do. We tend to rely on instruments that are more scientific.” However, she added, her tour guests have been known to see or “pick up” on spirits that she can’t.
She and her husband have co-written two books on ghostly presences in Damariscotta and Boothbay and continue to work together on paranormal investigations. After the season wraps up at the end of the month, she and Latimer will travel down to the Caribbean to research a number of haunted areas there. What they discover will likely end up in another book or another tour.
Having lived in Maine for just short of 40 years she is very knowledgeable about Maine in general as well as specific areas. The one night she hangs her “off duty” sign is on Halloween.
“There’s a lot going on that night and we’re wrapping up our busy season at that time. This year, we’re actually volunteering at two different haunted houses on Halloween night.”
To learn more about Red Cloak Haunted History Tours visit: redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org