The Beast of Bridgton: a Historical Halloween Presentation

On Saturday, October 22, assistant director of the Bridgton Historical Society, Mike Davis, will be hosting a Halloween presentation about a long-lost, local legend that features two professional ghost hunters. This fun event will run from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM and start at the Bridgton Museum at 5 Gibbs Avenue in Bridgton, Maine. More information about the event can be found on the Bridgton Historical Society’s new website. Davis, the youngest trustee for the historical society and a writer for the Bridgton News, an independent local newspaper, gave us a snippet of what he’s been researching.

Mike Davis of the Bridgton Historical Society. Photo Courtesy of Jesse Bifulco.

To most locals and tourists, Bridgton, Maine is known as the hometown of famous horror writer Stephen King, but the small, lively town has its own rich history. The story of the Bridgton Beast, which will be the focus of the presentation on Saturday, was recently rediscovered by Davis himself. The strange series of events surrounding the monster, dubbed the Wolfaboomis, was documented in the town’s newspaper and spanned almost a decade from 1886 to 1896. The story’s completeness can be attributed to the Historical Society’s wealth of knowledge about Bridgton. “We have over a thousand manuscripts here. Probably only 20% of the artifacts are on display at any one time. Actually, too many things are on display.” Davis told The Beacon.

The story begins with a short article about a missing sheep that ends with an ominous editor’s note, “Is this the creature that is heard and sometimes seen in this vicinity?” Shortly afterward, sightings and attacks began to occur. After the monster allegedly attacked his dog in February of 1889, Josiah Ballard described it as “lion-like in its general shape and looks,” although it was about three feet long and had a shaved tapered tail like a rat’s. Despite its small size, it was blamed for the death of sheep, chickens, a dog, and even a horse.

The accounts of the Wolfaboomis came to a climactic conclusion when the beast met a group of men riding into town from Naples late one night, who shot at it. “It ran into the woods in a hail of bullets,” Davis said, “and was not seen or heard again. But more than half my presentation focuses on the events that happen afterwards. This was a season of terror which then cast a shadow that lasted for decades.”

Picture courtesy of the Bridgton Historical Society.

The impact of the “varmint” on the small town can’t be understated. It took almost 50 years for references to the beast to fade from diaries and newspapers, during which time hopeful hunters would search in vain for the monster.

For the second part of the presentation, Mike Davis will be joined by local ghost-hunting group Tombstone Paranormal’s Jim and Dan Brown, who will share their own stories and gear. Any inquiries about facts or events can be directed to, and visitors to the town can download the historical society’s Historic Walking Tour app.

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