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When I was a boy, I used to hear the train in the distance in the middle of the night. It broke the stone silence of my world like a knife, a long, lonesome whistle from over the hill next to the Aroostook River Valley, where the tracks ran. It was a sign of life, the Bangor and Aroostook. I never knew if it was headed north or south. I never saw t…
 
When I was a boy, my father told me a story about a ghost town. I come from northern Maine, Aroostook County, a place of endless trees and potato fields with more deer than people. It's lonely country, a place of long, quiet, windswept vistas, of dark temples in the forest, of a world not yet destroyed by the endless march of human industry. Not ye…
 
I’ve been to the place where the world ends. It’s in an out of the way spot, far to the north, near a beaver dam and an abandoned air force base that most people have forgotten even existed. A wildlife refuge surrounds this strange little grotto of man-made hillocks that abides there quietly, a vestige of a time that all too unfortunately has not y…
 
Three score years and ten. It says it in the Bible, our allotted time upon this planet, the time we can expect to wander and walk and wonder, because nobody lives forever. From dust we come and to dust we return and that is one of the great equalizers for all Humanity - in the end, we're all the same. Well, most of us. The need for humans to forest…
 
It looks like a small desk without any legs, just sitting there on a table, a well-fashioned rectangular wooden box containing within it a drawer that pulls out to reveal a crucifix, a journal, a spoon, bottle of white powder and sundry other items that, when attached to the device on top of the box, did something very special, or at least, that’s …
 
It happens several times a day to everyone I know, usually at dinner time. Sitting quietly, minding your own business in the comfort of your own home and the phone rings. You look at the number and it looks somewhat familiar - whoever is calling lives in your area code, so there’s that. It can’t be from some robocaller - oh, you know, it probably i…
 
My name is George Miller Beard and I have a strange tale to tell you, a story so bizarre and truly unbelievable that I am certain people will doubt my report and perhaps even question my motives in discussing this subject. Still, what I have to reveal to you is the honest truth, witnessed only lately from my long journey to the northern woods of Ma…
 
You find yourself alone on a journey, feeling somewhat lost as the houses seemed to have disappeared from the side of the road and all you have seen for the interim has been nothing but trees and shadows thrown from the moon that seems to be playing hide-and-go-seek with the clouds. It is as though you have driven into another world on as dark a ni…
 
Elbert Stevens owned a sawmill in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont at the turn of the last century. His people had been in the area for time out of mind and he was known as a man who, like the bedrock that makes up the state, was solid, strong, and in a word, reliable. He was also a keeper of things, never one to discard anything that might be of use l…
 
The wind is blowing. It seems like the wind is always blowing here on this rock, like a constant companion, the sea breezes wafting lightly or heavy, but always, the air is moving around you like a torrent of unseen, but not unfelt, spirits. Tonight, though, it is howling, screaming like a banshee. Outside, the elements are raging and there is no s…
 
Lieutenant Gustavus Drane awoke from his stupor to find himself chained to the floor. It was dark, so dark. Where was he and what was that sound? How did I get here? He struggled to regain his thoughts. He had been drinking, rather heavily, with the other men of the regiment. He ought to have known better, that they had never really liked him, but …
 
There is a legend in the northeast of a man condemned to ride the storm for all eternity. When folks first started describing the man and his conveyance, he was always seen running just ahead of a fierce thunderstorm that appeared out of nowhere, in an open carriage being drawn by a fierce bay horse. Sitting next to him is his small daughter, perha…
 
It is dusk of a late summer day and you are standing quietly on a shoreline. There are bits of gnarled tree roots washed ashore here and there, pebbles, and small patches of mossy green vegetation at the lip of the water. The long vista you’re observing is a mixture of green and gold and blue, with the orange-red of the setting sun casting long sha…
 
When I was a young boy living in Caribou, Maine, back in the1960s, we had two rocking chairs in our living room. I spent a lot of time inthat room, playing with my Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars on the floor, buildingwith my Lincoln Logs, and generally lost in sweet illusion. Life was sweet andcompletely innocent and I was the master of my own imagin…
 
Not everyone can claim that they were born in Purgatory, but AndrewTozier could, on February 11, 1838. Purgatory is a town near theMonmouth-Litchfield line in central Maine and is neither a heaven ora hell - like most towns, just somewhere in between. But during hislife, Andrew Tozier would see more than his fair share of thelandscape bordering Hel…
 
[Please note – some ofthe descriptions in this article/episode are graphic. Use discretionwith younger readers/listeners] You are lying in your bed onthis hot July night. It has been a long, hot summer with no rain forweeks. The ground is turning to dust and the wind is warmer thanusual. Outside, the light of moon is bright as it peeks between thec…
 
It is night. Darkness has fallen over the September night as the half moon rises and the stars begin to fill the sky over Penobscot Bay. Sometimes the night falls so deeply here in this Maine hamlet that it seems like the Sun might never rise again. It is a darkness full of potential. The year is 1898 and you are walking along a dark path in the sm…
 
I know you don’t tell other people that you’ve had that experience, that one singular time when you were alone in your house and it happened: something inexplicable. Maybe it was when your parents first thought you were old enough to be left alone without a babysitter and told you that they would only be out for a little while. You’d had the drill …
 
John Bowman sat inside his mansion as evening fell and the light between the Vermont hills faded into dusk as he had done hundreds of times before. He had finished his dinner early and the servants had all gone their respective ways, back to their own homes in the village. He was alone in the house. As the light dimmed and the colors began to disap…
 
Ten thousand warplanes flew from or over Maine during World War II. Over the course of the war, a total of 48 aircraft crashed in the state accounting for 143 deaths. The vast majority of those planes made it safely to their destinations, but it was certainly not unheard of for one of the thousands of planes in the sky to fall to earth before they …
 
If you live in New England, sooner or later you’ll have this experience: you’ll find yourself driving down a road you’ve driven a hundred times before and you’ll notice something is different. At first, you might shrug it off, but the idea will dog you until you realize something is wrong: something is there that wasn’t there before, a small detail…
 
The cold wind blows across the empty fields. The trees have shed their rusted leaves and the moon plays hide and go seek with the thin and wispy clouds. It’s the time of year when night falls soon and you need an extra blanket on the bed to get you through the dark hours till morning. October is here and with it, the New England landscape dons a di…
 
It is September 11, 1976. You are sitting quietly in a living room near Maine’s Old Orchard Beach. The sea air is strangely balmy as you settle down for a quiet evening. Your wife and children are out for a few hours and for once, you have the house to yourself. You are 58 years old and your name is Dr. Herbert Hopkins and your quiet life is about …
 
It won’t be long now. The night winds begin to gather the chill that will eventually drill into our bones once the damp, grey skies of November gather overhead, anchoring us to the sunset and the dark. Trees are explosions of color and then nothing but skeletons, their gnarled hands reaching for the sliver of moon left to us - the only light left i…
 
How do we knew when a body is truly dead? Modern science shows us that the body dies slowly, not all at once as we used to suppose. It takes time. The body is a rather vast and complex ecosystem of enzymes, processes and functions that rarely, if ever, stop all at once. With our modern sensors and advanced medical knowledge, we usually determine th…
 
The great 19th century American poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, composed a strange poem entitled "The Garrison of Cape Ann" that tells one of the strangest tales ever to come from colonial New England. The event he recounts for us is supposed to relate actual events that occurred during the same year that the Salem Witch Trials occurred - 1692. Whit…
 
The three men made their way down the lonely trail that skirted the fields outside of Machiasport, Maine. These hills were wide open and bare, but the trees in the distance belied a deep forest toward the west and if they listened intently, they might have heard the waves in Machias Bay. It was dusk and the last light of the setting sun burned a br…
 
Gold forms in the heart of dying stars and as a result of their explosions, or novas, it is spread throughout the cosmos as one of the heavier elements. All the gold on earth no doubt came from such an explosion, just as all of the matter for all of the planets and the sun did, too. Maine does, in fact, have some gold in its ground, the first being…
 
We are visual creatures linked to the world through images, taking in most of our knowledge through our vision. The poets speak of the eyes as being the windows of the soul. Religious folk will speak of the eye as proof of a divine creation for surely, they claim, blind Nature could not have haphazardly produced such amazing and sophisticated senso…
 
Boundary Pond is a small, unassuming body of water in the northeastern corner of Maine. It is almost touching Quebec, earning the pond it's name sake. It has an outlet called "Boundary Brook" that meanders from the pond and into Maine, where it fades off into land. It is ideal for "cold-water fish" according to The Maine Department of Inland Fisher…
 
In ancient times when the night was so much darker than it is today, stories were told that endure to this day. It's easy for scholars to assume that, because written records are a permanent way to record history of any kind, many folktales from literary cultures are assumed to be recent ones. Familiar fairytales such as the ones The Brothers Grimm…
 
It is that time of year again, and apart from the religious significance of the day, there is the secular aspect of days off, possible Christmas bonuses, money spent on gifts and travel, travel, travel. One thing that most people in New England take for granted is that we have a strong Christmas tradition in this part of the world and in some ways,…
 
There are moments in your life that shine like stars in the darkness and light your path and as you remember your past. Such memories are safely couched in the narrative of your youth and from time to time, they can send a message to you, from far, far away. One such moment occurred in the year 1977 when I was fifteen years old. On a late May after…
 
Today, New Castle is a small town of 2.4 square miles at the mouth of the Piscataqua River in New Hampshire bordering the neighboring state of Maine. Today, only 968 people call the town home. Originally settled in 1623, this hamlet was originally populated by a small number of people, primarily fishermen and tradesmen. The island also included far…
 
No one knows his name. No one knows his motives. All that is known is where he lingers, what he looks like, how he haunts the living and the circumstances under which he appears. This is the stuff of nightmares, told around a campfire while the stars dance and the long shadows grow. What is known about him, whether it is from academic research or h…
 
Have you ever known an extremely lucky person, a character so unlikely to be successful due to a perceived lack of wit, money, talent, and education as to be the poster boy for failure? Still, they thrive and persevere against all that the hand of Fate has set against them, perhaps in spite of it all. These people are not as uncommon as it might se…
 
This October, Strange New England will cover ghost stories in a special series of articles with a theme befitting Halloween (or The Day of the Dead, if you celebrate it). We will talk about those denizens of New England who never quite left after death, where they remain and their effects on the living. Just as New England's history began with the …
 
Out of place artifacts are items, objects or curiosities that are out of place or out of time. They seem to occur or are discovered at random times and places, for no apparent rhyme or reason and these anomalies lead to nearly impossible conclusions about their origins. Historians and scientists largely discount these items because they logically d…
 
New Hampshire has always held a fascination for me, but it's not the mountains or the live free or die attitude. It's not the New Hampshire Motor Speedway or Strawberry Banke, either. As a young man from far northern Maine, I took my share of trips out of the state at the rate of about two a year. Each time we drove into New Hampshire, especially a…
 
Here's a quick question that will make you wonder: which son of Maine has affected more lives upon the planet than any other? Seems like a silly idea, really, perhaps because there is no real way to answer such a subjective question. In the arts we have Stephen King, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Edwin Arlington Robinson. In sports we have Louis S…
 
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