Saturday, July 4, 2015

Maine: East Machias, Machiasport Ghosts of Maine

     Moving south of Eastport Maine, we pass through several small coastal towns.  Small dairy operations are still abundant here.

     I could spend days wandering back roads and photographing old farm implements.

     There are no chain hotels here - in fact there are very few chain stores period.  In the towns there are a few Subways and Dunkin Donuts, but that's about it.

     We are in the poorest county in Maine - I am told that this county is the poorest on the eastern seaboard of the USA and the fourth poorest county in the nation.

    But there are many signs of industrious folks.  Many houses have stacks of lobster traps and buoys sitting in the yard.

     Most everyone has a collection of old buoys and anchors on display.

     And boats.  Lots of boats in yards.

     Many of them will never return to the sea.

     Summer is short here, and there are fields of wildflowers all trying to take advantage of the few warm days.

     Along the shore here was the site of the United States first naval battle - what many call the birthplace of our navy.  

     On June 12th 1775, one Jeremiah O'Brien and about forty other men went out in two smaller boats to a British boat anchored by the island in the distance.  They attacked and took the ship - some of them armed with nothing more than pitchforks.

     And so we enter three sister towns - Machias, Machiasport and East Machias.

     "Machias" in the Passamaquoddy language meant "The Waterfalls in the Evil Place."  Those waterfalls mark the center of Machias today.

     There are Indian relics thousands of years old found all over this area - but none around these falls.  There is a wealth of petroglyphs - carvings in stone in the area - and many of them depict things like demonic possession and the like.  And you don't have to talk to many locals before you find out that the same reputation still lingers in this area.

     To learn a bit more about this we head over to the University of Maine campus at Machias.

     Here we meet Professor Marcus Librizzi.

     Marcus was in college at age 15, and went on to get a PHD in English.  Among other things, he teaches students how to write about historical things such as folklore and other creative non-fiction.

     Marcus has written a few books of his own, among which are two books on ghosts and para-normal happenings in Maine.

     Enlisting students to help with research, Marcus has dug into many of the tales from the area and there are many.  (I have shamelessly plagiarized his books for this segment.)

     Marcus has traveled many places in the world to research paranormal occurrences.  He says that the only real "supernatural" experiences he has are of the intuitive sort.  He says that in the pursuit of stories things come to him in very odd ways.  For example, one story he was researching led him to a point that he had to substantiate a certain fellow's ability to have dug a smuggler's cave back in the 1700's.  One night, in a dream, he saw a particular old book in a specific library.  He went to the library the next day, found the book, opened it and a small sub-note written by a citizen a couple of hundred years before gave him exactly the link he was searching for.  Other intuitive notions have led him to long lost grave-yards and other things.  Marcus made it clear that his intuition works best when he finds things to be grateful for each day - regardless of how seemingly small they are. 

     One thing about this area is the fog.  It rolls in off the sea suddenly and often.  And, during the winter, the area is very isolated.  Marcus feels these two factors play a role in the areas history of ghost stories.  I am sure all of this plays a role in the suicide rates, and there are lots of cliffs around here to fling one's self off of.

     Much folklore holds that spirits cannot manifest unless there is some kind of "mist" - but others don't put such restrictions on them.

     The difference with the spirits in this area is that they are malicious - rather than just toying with you now and then like the "Haints" we saw in the Carolinas or the Orb we photographed in the haunted hotel on Daufuskie Island, these northern Maine spirits will kill you dead.

    There is a headless woman who hangs out at the top of a hill hitchhiking - especially on foggy full moon nights.  If you pass her by, she will curse you and you will most likely die.

     The story surrounds a woman who was killed in a car accident on prom night back in the 1970's.  She was beheaded and her date's body was never found.  But there was an earlier incident from the 1920's where a woman was beheaded in the same spot in a car accident - this car going over the ledge into a lake.  A car matching the description has been found at the bottom of that lake.

     But it goes back further still - clear back to the 1800's and a coach that wrecked, beheading a woman and killing her companion - in the same spot.  People have driven past and not offered her a ride and lived to tell the tale - but only after a bad accident of their own.  Many folks won't drive by there at all on foggy nights.

      There is the story of a young out of state couple with two young children that purchased an old local house in 1976.  The house was fine except for one room that let out a frigid blast when you opened the door.

     As soon as they moved in the woman started having dreams where she would find herself holding one of her children in her arms - but the child was dead.  Accompanying these dreams were strange happenings.  The haunted room had a door that went into the children's nursery that was kept latched.  Morning after morning the door would be unlocked and sitting open.  

     The woman's dreams got even worse, and finally she heard a voice demanding that she choose which of her children was going to die.  She saw an apparition in the corner of the room, and demanded in the name of God that it leave.  It howled and left, and her dreams immediately ceased.

     However, shortly thereafter one of her children took sick, was mis-diagnosed and she found herself holding a dead child in her arms.  She rushed back to the house and flung open the door to the haunted room - but was surprised to find that it was suddenly as warm and cheery as the rest of the house.  It seems the ghost demanded its due, and moved on once it was sated.


     There are the folks who had a new house built in the 1990's, but unbeknownst to them the contractor used fill dirt from an old cemetery.  

     Their daughter started wetting the bed, then refused to sleep in her room.  When asked, she finally said that there were four children that would jump on her bed all night while she was trying to sleep.  Then they would crowd in around her and stuff socks down her throat.

      The use of an ouija board confirmed their suspicions, and warned that they must move her to another bedroom.  They next started investigating at town hall, where they found out about the cemetery dirt.  

     As soon as they discovered the problem, the incidents quickly tapered off and finally ceased.

     I will share some of the other stories as we pass the places they are set - Marcus has written in detail about scores of them.  

     While I sat at a picnic table beneath the Evil Falls reading Marcus's books, I became aware of a presence.  

     I notice this fellow peering at me through the grass, where he remained unmoving for a good ten minutes.  Hmmm....

     A quick note on Eastport - Hugh French is another big contributor to the revival of that town.

     He has done all manner of things to get funds to revitalize downtown areas, put together a museum and work with local businesses to bring the area back to life.

     In an ongoing effort to bring the arts to town, he has set up is a resident artists program.  Artists are given a place to live for a month and access to a studio and equipment to ply their trade.  There are also residency programs for students.

     This month's artist is 29 year old Mike Marks, who has a bachelors in art.

     Mike is using old printing equipment the town owns to make large collages.  He has traveled all over working in residency programs, and likes this spot because of the incredible fly fishing.

     I remembered to touch on that because of a group I found in Eastport.  There is a large deck built that overlook the waterfalls, and on it is a sign thanking a group called the "Beehive Collective" for donating the deck to the community.

     I was told that this group is also opening a soup kitchen for the homeless in this area.

     It turns out that the Beehive Design Collective is a grass-roots artist's group that uses art to create all manner of educational material, but shuns copyrights and focuses on societal issues.  The artists work anonymously and give freely of their work.

     They teach mosaics as an art-form all over the world, and use the art to bring awareness to major issues facing mankind.

     They have a large local house, and usually there are ten to fifteen artists living there and working on projects.

     I found the large house and shops they work out of, but sadly all of them are gone working at some ongoing projects.  

    I did meet a young lady that was new to the colony who showed me around.  They sell certain pieces, but they try to donate at least half of their work.  Most of the pieces are very large, with smaller reprints available, like the one below.

     I hope to find more out about it at a future date - there is clearly much more to this story.

    Each day, numerous folks set up a flea-market of sorts along the causeway into Machias.  There were a couple dozen vendors here today - there will be many more for the planned 4th of July holiday weekend.

     And that brings us to today's "Faces in the Crowd" - one of the vendors along the road.

     This fellow sells all manner of knives that he forges himself.  Luckily I used the telephoto lens when capturing his image.

     And today's parting shot - 


Have an awesome day

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