American Folklore

American Folklore: Maine

American Folklore: Maine

Maine is northern, eastern, freezing, and woodsy. It has also been home to humans for thousands of years, which has given it plenty of time to develop some interesting folktales. Here are some of the highlights of Maine’s folklore.

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Admitted to the Union in 1820, Maine is our 23rd state. It is bordered by New Hampshire, Canada, and the Atlantic Ocean, and is the easternmost state in the Union, as well as the northernmost state east of the Mississippi. It has a history of human habitation going back thousands of years with the Native Americans. The first European colony there was a French one in 1604, as the area was popular among French fur traders. After some English settlements became established there, which took a while because of the harsh climate, Maine became part of Massachusetts. It formally ceded from that state and became its own state as part of the 1820 Missouri Compromise. It has some interesting local folklore. Here are some of the highlights of it.

The Maine Mist

What else would you expect from a state where the king of horror himself, Stephen King, lives? In fact, he wrote a novel about it called “The Mist.” That’s how creepy this mist is. It is a thick fog that rolls onto the Maine coast, and sometimes into the woods, and you never know quite when it is going to appear. It has been around for as long as there have been people in Maine, though. Tales of it go back for centuries. The mist has caused many a sailor to wreck their ship on the rocks near the shore, or caused explorers and campers to become lost in the woods.

Paul Bunyan

Everyone has heard the legend of the giant lumberjack, Paul Bunyan. The legend is native to Maine, and the story goes that the famous lumberjack was born there. Paul is supposed to be responsible for many wonderful features of the natural landscape in the state. As an example, his bootprints are said to have been so big, they became the lakes of Maine. The fields and meadows of the state were supposedly created as Paul rolled around in his sleep, clearing the land of trees that were near him.


This is a bit of folklore from the Penobscot Native American nation. Pamola is supposed to be a half-man, half-eagle, but with the head of a moose. The creature lives in a cave on top of the tallest mountain in the state. Because Pamola does not like people coming to visit it, he lets them know his displeasure by creating crazy weather on top of the mountain, like unpredictable storms of wind, rain, and snow. These storms are frequently seen to concentrate on the peak of Pamola’s mountain.

The Wood Island Lighthouse

Wood Island, located off the coast of Biddeford Pool, is said to be haunted. The ghost in question is that of Howard Hobbs, who was a fisherman. He shot and killed his landlord and himself in 1896 after he got drunk and argued with his landlord about the rent. Since then, the keepers of the lighthouse have reported hearing weird moans that come from nowhere and seeing odd shadows that have no apparent source.

The Robie-Andrews Dorm

The Robie-Andrews dorm on the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former student. The student is said to have committed suicide there over a breakup in the 1800s. Since then, residents of the dorm have reported hearing odd noises and feeling areas that are colder than the surrounding spaces.

Colonel Buck’s Tomb

Colonel Jonathan Buck has a tomb in the tiny town of Bucksport in Maine. The odd thing about it is that it has a weird, unexplained stain on it in the shape of a woman’s leg, and the leg appears to be wearing a stocking. The legend around the stain says that Colonel Buck illegally burned a woman at the stake who the locals accused of being a witch, and her leg rolled out of the fire as she was unjustly executed by the mob the Colonel was leading. The stain is said to be in the shape of that leg. The heirs of the Colonel have tried to clean the stain several times over the centuries, but the stain either can’t be removed, or they wash it off, but it reappears. Heirs no longer try to clean it as often as they used to.

The Sabattus Well

One of the creepier stories to come out of Maine involves something that is said to have happened not too long ago, possibly in the 1990s. The story goes, a group of young teen boys, maybe pre-teens, dared a friend of theirs to allow himself to be lowered into an old well behind a cemetery in the town of Sabattus. The boy agreed to the dare.

The other boys lowered their friend into the well on a tire attached to the rope and kept letting him go farther down until they couldn’t see him anymore, and the rope stopped moving. Thinking he had maybe fallen off the tire, the boys pulled it back up, and their friend was still on it, but not the same friend who went down into the well.

His hair had turned white, he appeared much older than when he went down, and he could no longer speak incomprehensible sentences. Legend has it that he is still babbling nonsense at the county mental institution today, where he has lived ever since the well incident.

The Hermit of North Pond

Unlike some of the stories from Maine, which have dubious truth, obscured truth, or are provable tall tales, this one is absolutely true. In the town of Rome, Maine, people keep lake houses they live in during the summer. For years, these summer dwellers would notice things missing from their houses when they went there. Usually, the missing items were food or clothing, and sometimes batteries or similar survival items. The residents began talking of a hermit possibly living in the woods nearby. It was just a rumor, though, until 2013, when a resident saw the hermit, who left the scene in a canoe. The local police investigated and discovered a man named Christopher Knight who had been living in the nearby woods for nearly three decades. Knight never said why he became a hermit, and the reason is still a mystery.


Will Moneymaker

Will established Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has helped genealogy researchers for over 25 years. He is also a freelance photographer, husband of twenty-eight years, father of four children, and has one grandchild.