RANDOLPH, Maine — Established in 1887, the small town of Randolph is rumored to be a hot spot for the paranormal. Throughout the years, residents claim to have experienced the inexplicable — shadow people, disembodied voices and glowing orbs floating through the forest.
Many of these eerie stories take place on the town’s Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail, a bicycle path constructed along the former Kennebec Central Railroad, which from the 1890s to 1920s transported passengers and goods to the nation’s first veterans hospital at Togus.
“If you consider the history of the people who were on the railroad and how relieved they must have felt to actually be on that train that was going to take them to the hospital — it’s a powerful thing,” said Kat McKechnie, co-founder of Maine Ghost Hunters.
In 2012, the Maine Ghost Hunters — a volunteer organization that is about 700 members strong and has more than 4,000 followers on Facebook — visited the narrow gauge trail to investigate. In addition to scanning the trail with special devices, such as electronic voice phenomena, or EVP, audio recorders and ghost boxes (modified radios that ghost hunters use to communicate with the dead), they met with Randolph residents and heard stories of a ghost riding a bicycle, who some believe is the spirit of Bicycle Larry, a Randolph man who disappeared from the town and was never found.
Lawrence “Larry” Farrell, nicknamed “Bicycle Larry” because he was so often seen riding his bike around town, disappeared in fall 2004 at the age of 55, according to stories previously published in the BDN.
Before Farrell’s disappearance, he lived with 64-year-old Norris Perry, who died by suicide in the winter of 2004 after leaving a voice message with his sister saying he had killed Farrell and that the body could be found in the brook behind their home.
Maine state investigators used cadaver dogs and a backhoe to search for Farrell’s body for a month, but no traces of the man — or his bicycle — were ever found.
While this fairly recent event is certainly tragic enough to spawn ghost stories, many say the Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail was haunted long before 2004, and if “Bicycle Larry” is haunting it, he’s just one of many spirits who inhabit Randolph’s woods.
“I went out there by myself, with my dog,” said David Hopkins, co-founder of Maine Ghost Hunters and co-owner of Merkaba Sol, a shop focusing on natural healing and metaphysics in Augusta.
“When I first parked and I got out, there was a little stand of trees you walk through, and it was nice,” Hopkins recalled. “And then, all the sudden, you reach this one point, and it’s dead. There’s not a sound. There are some old pine trees. It’s very dark, even though it’s sunny out. And if you look down to the right, there’s almost like a hollowed-out area by the stream. And I just got these images that stuff went on there, a long, long time ago, ceremony-type stuff. It’s the land. There’s something weird with that land.”
The narrow gauge trail starts beside Googins IGA on Route 27 and passes through a thin strip of woods with residential houses on either side. It then crosses busy Route 226 and enters a quieter, older forest. In addition to following the old railroad bed, the trail follows a brook. As the trail nears its northern end at Andre’s Way, it becomes a bit confusing, as it is less maintained at that end.
Other haunted Maine trails include:
— Silver Lake Trails in Bucksport, said to be haunted by the ghost of Sarah Ware, a resident murdered in 1898.
— Catherine Mountain Trail off Route 182 between Franklin and Cherryfield, said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who was decapitated in a car (or wagon) accident nearby.
— Scarborough Beach State Park trails, said to be haunted by a bloody ghost of Richard “Crazy Eye” Stonewall, who was buried on the site in 1697.
— Maiden’s Cliff Trail in Camden, said to be haunted by a young girl who fell to her death from the cliff on May 7, 1864. Atop the cliff is a metal cross that was erected in her memory, and a memorial plaque tells the story.