Sure, you can hit a haunted house this Halloween and scream in terror at every blood-covered clown that pops out at you, or you can get scared by Maine’s real (and really creepy) history. There are a host of haunted walking tours this season – from Rockland to Wiscasset and Portland to Freeport. There are also some tours that get inside some historic structures (those old walls have surely seen some things).
Spirits Alive, a group of volunteers working to preserve the Eastern Cemetery, are hosting a walk through the cemetery at dusk, “Boom & Bust: Ghosts of 1807 Portland.” Docents and volunteers carefully researched characters who lived during 1807 to create an historically accurate (with some fun thrown in) tour of the cemetery. Visitors will meet a couple of street characters outside the cemetery gates. Once inside the grounds, professional Acorn Productions actors portray spirits, including King (Matthew) Cobb, one of the richest men in Portland in the early 1800 (his mansion stood where the Portland Museum of Art is now). And although Cobb wasn’t known for his charisma the way Portland’s better known character Asa Clapp was, the tour does offer some colorful thoughts Cobb (i.e., dissatisfaction) may have felt about his stone marker. The tour is full of entertaining stories while strolling down Funeral Lane. No advanced reservations are required but the tours run on a first come, first serve basis. There will be an additional “Twilight” tour hosted at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Oct. 29, 30 and 31, meet at Congress Street gate at Eastern Cemetery, Portland. $10 adults, $5 children under 12. spiritsalive.org
The last regular Saturday tour of the season features Bartlett Adams, a Portland stone cutter. Docent Ron Romano did extensive research to discover that more than 700 stone markers were cut for the cemetery by Adams. Romano will lead this tour and talk not only about Adams but also a bit about the lettering and iconography of the stones.
11 a.m. Saturday, meet at Congress Street gate at Eastern Cemetery, Portland. $10 adults, $5 seniors over 65 and children under 12. spiritsalive.org
Freeport Community Players will be bringing the ghosts of Freeport back to life at Woodlawn Cemetery this Halloween season with the help of Eddita Felt, psychic medium of Frontiers of the Mind and the Freeport Historical Society. “Reincarnations” of some of Freeport’s most notable residents will share tales of their lives. One notable resident, Josiah Angier Mitchell, was a captain aboard a clipper that had to be evacuated near San Francisco. His lifeboat was set adrift for more than a month, and traveled about 4,000 miles before he was rescued. The story has a few twists and turns before Mitchell returned to Maine. The story, written by Elizabeth Guffey from the Freeport Community Players, is one of many shared on this walking tour. Reservations are highly recommended.
6 p.m. and every 15 minutes until 7:15 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Oct. 29 and 30. Woodlawn Cemetery, West Street, Freeport. $10 adults, $5 children 12 and under. freeporthistoricalsociety.org
Folks will be led on a guided tour of the house based on Longfellow’s poem “Haunted Houses,” written in 1851. The poem opens with the immortal line: “All Houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses.” Guests will be ushered through the house by costumed guide James Horrigan, telling stories of the Wadsworth-Longfellow family members who lived and died in the home. A unique “kinetic reading” will set the tone each evening as visitors get a rare opportunity to experience Longfellow’s literary web of “quiet inoffensive ghosts” and “harmless phantoms.” Recommended for ages 12 and up. Advanced registration required.
6 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Oct. 30. Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland. $10. www.mainehistory.org
These 90-minute walking tours are led by a lady in a red cloak while leading folks via lantern around the village in 1800s style. The Red Cloak Haunted History Tours hosts walking tours to explore the “other side” of the midcoast Maine villages of Camden, Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Boothbay Harbor, Bath, Hallowell and Rockland. There are many unsolved mysteries, hauntings, ghosts and oddities at each village. For instance, there is legend in Damariscotta of a lady who was buried alive in an unmarked grave. She was a spiritualist and very well known in the village and her story is shared in detail in the tour. Sally Lobkowicz, the director of Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, has been looking for records and researching which cemetery this lady was actually buried. She hopes that someday she can provide a marker for her. The stories are well-researched, and plentiful, for each village’s tour.
7 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. Camden, Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Boothbay Harbor, Bath, Hallowell and Rockland cemeteries. $15, $7 children under 12, free for children under 5. Advanced reservations required. 207-380-3806; redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com
Hosted by the red cloak lady, these tours focus on the symbolism and history of the cemetery stones as well as historic burial practices. In the Wiscasset cemetery there is a “table” marker in the Ancient Burial Ground, which dates to 1735. This table-like marker was in vogue in the 1800s and designed to encourage people to go and have picnics with their dead relatives. They are fairly rare headstones because the idea never really took off. Other marker symbols like doves, ferns and other etchings have meanings that are explained during the tours in the cemeteries of Camden, Newcastle, Boothbay and Wiscasset.
5 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. Camden, Newcastle, Boothbay and Wiscasset cemeteries. $15, $7 children under 12, free for children under 5. Advanced reservations required. 207-380-3806; redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com
Wicked Walking Tours uses local actors and comedians to share stories of the city’s past in a fun and entertaining way. Many stories are told during this 70-minute tour and you’re likely to hear a story or two about pirate ships. One of the more interesting tales is about a ghost that has haunted the docks of Portland since the 1930s. She is a captain’s daughter waiting for her father’s ship that never returned. The ship in question started out on a voyage from Portland but never arrived at its destination in the Caribbean. The ship was found aground in North Carolina despite the fact that the vessel was seaworthy. The mystery of this ship’s demise was never solved despite some involvement with the FBI.
8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 22. Tours begin at Bouy Park, Portland. $18 adults, $15 senior & active military, $13 children. Advance reservations required. 207-730-0490; wickedwalkingtours.com