November 29, 2021

The Ghost of Catherine's Hill: You Better Give Her A Ride

There's a lonely stretch of Route 182 in Maine. It's known as Black's Woods Road, and runs between Franklin and Cherryfield. This part of the state is quite rural, and the trees press heavily in on the road, particularly on a dark, moonless night. 

The road climbs a small mountain known as Catherine's Hill, and if you're unlucky you might see Catherine herself one night while driving along Route 182. Catherine is a ghost, and appears as a forlorn young woman wandering the side of the road in an evening gown, either pale blue or white in color. 

If you see Catherine, you should stop and offer her a ride. She'll tell you she's going go to Bangor. You should let her in even though it's a long drive and you might not be going that way. Otherwise, bad luck will come to you. 

Photo from Pinterest

Here's an example. One night a salesman was driving along Route 182 when he saw Catherine walking by the side of the road. He was in a hurry and was also unnerved by the sight of a young woman in a formal gown alone in the woods. He instinctively knew something was uncanny about her, so he sped past without stopping. It was a fatal mistake. As he glanced in the rear view mirror, he saw Catherine suddenly sitting in the back seat of his car - without her head. Her bloody-necked corpse filled him with terror (of course!) and he lost control of the car. He died instantly when it hit a tree.

Some legends say Catherine was driving to her prom with her boyfriend when they got in an accident and both died. She was decapitated, and now walks along Route 182 trying to find her boyfriend. Sometimes Catherine is even seen wandering headless along the side of the road. You should still stop and offer her a ride if you see her in this condition, unless you want something bad to happen to you. The bad luck isn't always immediate. Sometimes it takes a few days, but it always comes. Better to just offer her headless corpse a ride. 

There are a few variations of the legend. Maybe she died on the way to her wedding, and maybe she died in the 1800s in a carriage accident. Despite the minor fluctuating details, the core of the story remains the same: offer Catherine a ride or face the consequences. 

To me, the legend feels like a variant of the classic ghostly hitchhiker story. In that story, which is told all across the country, a driver picks up a young woman who is hitchhiking. The driver agrees to take her to her destination. Upon reaching the destination, the young woman vanishes. The driver asks somebody at the destination if they can explain what happened, and is told, "Why, that young woman was my daughter/sister/grandmother/etc. and she died in an accident this very night many years ago!" The Catherine's Hill legend includes some of these elements (the young woman who died, someone giving her a ride) but omits the revelation at the end. Instead, it substitutes a curse - anyone who doesn't offer Catherine a ride suffers a horrible fate. It's a nice twist on a classic story. 

This story has apparently been told for many years, but I just learned about it recently when someone who heard me on a radio show emailed me about it. Thank you Larry! It is a great story! If anyone is interested in learning more, this article from the Bangor Daily News is quite good. You can also check out Marcus Librizzi's book Dark Woods, Chill Waters: Ghost Stories from Down East Maine (2007). 

Speaking of books, they make good holiday gifts. My new book, Witches and Warlocks of Massachusetts, is now available wherever books are sold online. It's the perfect gift for almost anyone!

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