On their first date, Sally Lobkowicz and her future husband set out to solve a mystery in the Midcoast Maine town of Jefferson’s Bunker Hill Cemetery
At the time, Newcastle writer Greg Latimer was researching his book “Haunted Damariscotta: Ghosts of the Twin Villages and Beyond” and enlisted Lobkowicz to investigate an image possibly depicting a supernatural apparition of a young boy in the graveyard.
Next, they headed to Boothbay Harbor in search of a cove where sea serpents reportedly were seen in the 1800s.
“I’ve always loved history passionately,” Lobkowicz says.
A decade ago, Lobkowicz and Latimer took their shared love of unsolved mysteries, lost treasures and legendary creatures and formed Red Cloak Haunted History Tours. Bar Harbor is the latest of the eight Maine towns —from Bath to Hallowell — where the lantern-lighted walking tours of historic sites and ghostly haunts are offered.
Clad in a bright red cloak, Julie Creed led a recent Haunted History Tour in Bar Harbor. As the sun set, the tour guide carried a glowing lantern as she strolled through the town — once called Eden. She told eerie and anecdotal tales of ghosts said to inhabit various summer cottages as well as unsolved murders that left behind spirits.
In the dim light, Creed traced the history of Mount Desert Island’s earliest inhabitants — the Wabanaki and Bar Harbor’s great fire of 1947. She also pointed out Rum Key, part of the Porcupine Islands archipelago, in Frenchman Bay. During Prohibition, she said rum runners “would hide alcohol and in the dead of the night would row out and bring it back.”
While the cloaked tour guide sets the scene, Latimer said the historic walks are grounded in actual events.
“One of the things I always stress about the walks is that there’s lots of history,” Latimer declares. “We tend to spice it up to make it more exciting but the history is very important to us.”
Lobkowicz especially loves doing the research that forms the basis for the tours. She pores over old and dusty historical books, visits historical societies and even goes door to door in search of unusual stories.
“It’s not just ghosts,” she stresses. “It’s superstitions, coincidences, sea serpents and anything that is off the wall.”
“She will walk into a place and say, ‘Do you have any ghosts here?” Latimer relates with a laugh.
The couple try to weave in different material — from spirits and the paranormal to sailing shipbuilding history — that will appeal to different ages.
“It covers everything because multi-generational families take trips together,” Lobkowicz notes. “I like to think of older generations too. Some of the history of early architecture is something they can enjoy.”
Even though the tours usually draw tourists, Lobkowicz says it warms her heart when a local resident will exclaim, ‘Oh! I didn’t know that about my hometown’ or ‘If only they had taught history like this in school.’”
Where: Downtown Bar Harbor
How much: $15 per adult, $7 per child under 12 and free for children under 5.
Contact: 380-3806, www.redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com