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Haunted Maine

Visitors are haunted by the Pine Tree State's natural beauty but residents tell us of the real specters of Maine. We travel around this coastal state with centuries of paranormal history to find plenty to scare the Stephen King out of you.

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Photo: Getty Images/Portland Press Herald

A Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

We will begin our travels less than an hour south of HGTV Urban Oasis 2020 at the historic town of York. As one of the oldest English settlements in America, you might imagine it's a likely spot for a haunting. Witnesses over the years report numerous manifestations: a lonely woman walking along the street, cold spots, doors opening on their own.

Children maintain that a friendly ghost plays with them during recess. The real difficulty is establishing exactly who the spirit is. Perhaps it is Patience Boston, a young woman who was imprisoned and sentenced to death in 1735 for drowning her employer's child in a well. Boston converted to Christianity in prison but had led a very wicked life and the priests who published her story after the execution were certainly haunted by her. Or the spirit might be that of Mary Nasson, an expert in herbalism and an accomplished exorcist. Born in 1745, Nasson was only 29 when she died and was honored with a beautiful headstone bearing her likeness. But as much as her community appreciated her skills, they must not have trusted her powers completely because hers is the only grave in the cemetery that has an additional slab of granite over the length of it to keep her spirit in situ. With consistent sightings of this ethereal presence, one has to wonder if the technique is effective.

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Photo: Getty Images/Fran García

Boon Island Buffet

Wander down to York Beach and cast your gaze a-sea to glimpse the tallest lighthouse in New England on an island haunted by one of the saddest legacies. Many ships have met their fate on Boon Island, the last in 1944, but the story garnering most of the attention is that of the British merchant ship that ran aground here in December of 1710. Despite the fact that the 14-member crew could see the mainland, crossing the 6 miles of ocean was impossible. They had little food and supplies — no way to even start a fire — so they waited and prayed. For 24 days they subsisted on seaweed and boot leather but the men predictably began to succumb to starvation and exposure. Out of complete desperation, the remaining crew members reluctantly consumed the body of a deceased shipmate. The crew was finally rescued when one of the other emaciated bodies washed ashore on a mainland beach, alerting residents that something was amiss.

Being forced to devour a deceased friend is bad enough, but the most haunting part of the story may be the traitorous and self-serving captain. In his published memoir recounting the accident, he cast himself as a hero and blamed bad weather for their misfortune. According to a sworn rebuttal by crew members, however, it was no accident at all: The captain deliberately crashed the ship for an insurance payout.

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Photo: Getty Images//ilbusca

A Haunting Melody

There are several lighthouses around Maine with tragic tales still told by ghostly inhabitants, but perhaps the strangest story is of the couple who attended a remote lighthouse on Seguin Island in the mid-1800s. Located just across Casco Bay from bustling Portland, the lighthouse was built in 1796 as Maine's first one offshore. After his wife became depressed from the unrelenting isolation, the caretaker brought a piano to the desolate island for her enjoyment.

The caretaker's wife developed an obsession with a single song in her songbook, playing it over and over again, day and night. The husband became increasingly unhinged by the repetition and one evening, possessed by a fit of rage, set about dismantling the piano with his axe before doing the same to his wife. In the deafening silence that followed, he realized what he'd done and consumed by grief, he took his own life. If you catch the ferry to visit this centuries-old lighthouse, listen carefully while you're there — many have reported hearing a faint piano playing a haunting melody. The same melody. Over and over and over again.

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Photo: Getty Images/Cavan Images

Benton Falls House

Imagine finding the perfect home for your sizable family, a stately abode with great bones that you simply love at first sight. Now imagine moving your family into the house to find that the feeling was not mutual and the bones? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In 1963, the Linnell family — mom, dad and seven children — moved into their new home on Falls Road in Benton, a small town between Portland and Bangor. The home had been built in 1767 so the family expected the usual older-home peculiarities but that isn't what they got at all. Shortly after moving in, the children began complaining about shadowy figures and cold presences, footsteps going up and down the stairs, an unseen music box playing. The dog would even regularly bark at an invisible intruder.

After more than a decade of these strange occurrences, the potential source was uncovered — literally. During a home remodel, the family found a mummified human foot in the wall, confirmed by a pathologist to be that of a 5-month-old infant. The tabloids and paranormal investigators had a field day with the story and subjected the home to supernatural evaluation for years after. Interestingly enough, the current homeowner confirms that the house is indeed inhabited by a spirit, but she believes the ghost to be the mistress or child of the sea captain who built it and then abandoned his family. She also reports that the ghost is friendly. You see, the homeowner's two cats have the habit of greeting (rubbing against the legs of) an invisible presence on the stairwell. As we all know, pets are excellent judges of character and, besides, this isn't her first encounter with the supernatural world: She hails from Salem, Massachusetts.

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