Digest>Archives> May 2008

The Mysterious Stranger Of Maine’s Hendricks Head

By Jeremy D'Entremont


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Maine’s Hendricks Head Lighthouse, which was established in 1829 and rebuilt in 1875, is at the westernmost point of Southport Island, on the east side of the entrance to the Sheepscot River. The author and naturalist Rachel Carson spent a dozen summers near here beginning in 1952, and her landmark book The Edge of the Sea was inspired by the location’s beauty and rich ecology.

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Probably the most famous tale of Hendricks Head is the story of the “baby that washed ashore” from a shipwreck in the 1870s. Some say the baby girl was rescued by the keeper and his wife and later adopted by summer residents, while others insist the story can’t be true.

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Charles A. Knight, who was the lighthouse keeper ...

Like so many lighthouses, Hendricks Head also has its ghost story. The tale’s origins date to an early December day in 1931, when a woman, dressed in black, arrived by bus in nearby Boothbay Harbor. The woman registered in a local hotel as Louise G. Meade of Pittsburgh. She asked directions to a sweeping ocean view for “one last good look” before she headed home. She was directed to a wharf in Boothbay Harbor, but she took the much longer walk to Southport and Hendricks Head instead.

One of the last people to speak with her, Charlie Pinkham of West Southport, later said, “She was a nice woman.

A refined woman. A lady! In her 40s I’d say, maybe late 40s. Not a beauty, no, but nice looking.” She stopped at Pinkham’s store and asked the way to the ocean. Pinkham’s wife directed her to Hendricks Head, but warned her that it was growing dark and windy.

Minutes later, the lighthouse keeper at Hendricks Head, Charles L. Knight, arrived at Pinkham’s store. The Pinkhams asked him if he had seen the woman. Strangely, he hadn’t, although it seemed as if he must have passed her.

As he walked back in the near darkness to the lighthouse, Knight watched carefully for the woman. He caught a fleeting glimpse of a person moving swiftly near one of the cottages at the shore. He shouted, but there was no reply. If he did see her, Knight was the last person to see the woman alive.

The woman’s body was later found, and the only identifying mark found was a Lord and Taylor tag on her black dress. It was generally believed she drowned herself, a view supported by the fact that she was found with her wrists bound by a leather belt, looped through the handle of a heavy flatiron. Her family couldn’t be located, and the woman was buried in a West Southport’s Union Cemetery with a small field stone marking the grave.

Rose O’Brien later wrote in the Lewiston Journal, “Her grave, in time, may be forgotten, but she will never be forgotten because already she is a Maine coast legend, this shadowy figure, the Lady of the Dusk who haunts Hendricks Head.”

Ever since that evening in 1931, there have been reports of the “Lady Ghost of Hendricks Head,” always seen, just before dusk turns to blackness.

This story appeared in the May 2008 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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