Podcast 208 – A Tombstone Every Mile in the Haunted Haynesville Woods

Route 2A through Haynesville, Maine, is so haunted and treacherous, it inspired a 1965 country song by Dick Curless.


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In Episode 208, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger take a drive down Route 2A through Haynesville, Maine, to see a road so treacherous and haunted, it inspired a 1965 country song by Dick Curless. Behind the song, though, are countless stories of vehicle accidents and strange encounters on this road that may cause you to slow down and look twice. Be warned, Jeff brought his guitar on this trip, and Ray may have sung some of Dick Curless’s song.

Read the episode transcript.

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Produced and hosted by: Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger
Edited by: Ray Auger
Additional Voice Talent: Michael Legge
Theme Music by: John Judd

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If they buried all the truckers lost in them WoodsIf they buried all the truckers lost in them Woods / There'd be a tombstone every mile.

If they buried all the truckers lost in them WoodsIf they buried all the truckers lost in them Woods / There’d be a tombstone every mile.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
*A note on the text: Please forgive punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. Like us, the transcripts ain’t perfect.

[TRUCK DRIVING ON THE ROAD] [WINTER WIND]

JEFF: Ray, I didn’t know you could drive a truck!

RAY: I’m not sure I can either! And these icy winter conditions aren’t helping anything!

JEFF: Since you started driving a Jeep I guess you figure no truck is too large.

RAY: Something like that. Did… did you bring your guitar?

[JEFF STRUMS]

JEFF: I did! I figured we’re in a truck, I have my guitar. There’s gotta be a country song around here somewhere. (PAUSE) You seem tense, Ray. I don’t think I’ve seen you smile once on this drive.

RAY: I am tense! Driving on Route 2A in Maine in winter is stressful!

JEFF: Yeah, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
RAY: Why’s that?

JEFF: Because we’re about to enter the Haunted Haynesville Woods. They say the place is cursed and haunted by a witch. And that the road is so treacherous to truckers there’s a tombstone every mile.

[INTRO]

JEFF: Hello, I’m Jeff Belanger, and welcome to Episode 208 of the New England Legends podcast. If you give us about 15 minutes, we’ll give you something strange to talk about today.

RAY: And I’m Ray Auger. Thanks for joining us on our mission to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. It’s something we’ve been doing for four years now. We’re a community of legend seekers looking for strange tales of ghosts, monsters, odd history, true crime, and other weird legends that make New England unique. Did you know so many of our story leads come from you? Like this one. Thanks to Rebecca Overstreet for tipping us off.

JEFF: Before we continue west bound and down on this adventure, we want to take just a minute to tell you about our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals!

RAY: You’ve heard us rave about all of the great, natural teas, balms, soaps, and other products that Nuwati Herbals has to offer. There’s something for every circumstance. So we wanted to ask Nuwati Herbals founder, Rod Jackson, if you were heading toward a dangerous road where you’d need all of your wits, what Nuwati Herbals products would you recommend?

ROD: Anytime you’re driving you need to have good vision, focus, and the energy to stay awake and aware of where you are. And not coincidentally, we have herbal tea blends that help with those driving necessities. Eye of the Hawk helps you to see those dangerous curves and hazardous conditions, Storytellers helps you to focus on the road ahead and make good decisions, and Wind Dancer gives you the energy to stay awake and in control.

JEFF: These are herbal remedies from Mother Earth. Check out the Nuwati Herbals Web site to see all of their great products AND you legendary listeners get 20% off your order when you use the promo code LEGENDS20 at checkout. Visit Nuwati Herbals dot com. That’s N-U-W-A-T-I Herbals with an S dot com.

RAY: Okay, Jeff, you brought your guitar for some reason.

JEFF: I did. I think we’re overdue for a song. This legend is one of those cases where real life inspires a legend which inspires art, until it all swirls together. As we’re driving down Route 2A through the Haynesville Woods in Aroostok County, Maine, we need to keep our eyes wide open for not only the dangers of the road, but for the Haynesville Witch—a spooky woman who has been said to haunt this road causing accidents, hitchhiking, even driving a vehicle before suddenly vanishing. Whether the road was cursed first, or this spooky phantom is causing all of the trouble for the trucks on this road, I’m not sure. But what I know for certain is that this place inspired a 1965 country song by Dick Curless.

RAY: A classic! An obscure New England classic, but still a classic!

JEFF: What do you think, Ray? You feel like singing the ominous chorus to this song before we had back and figure this one out?
RAY: I’m Ready!

SONG:
It’s a stretch of road up north in Maine
That’s never, ever, ever seen a smile
If they buried all the truckers lost in them Woods
There’d be a tombstone every mile
Count ’em off, there’d be a tombstone every mile

JEFF: To find out why there’s a tombstone every mile, how this song came to be, and maybe find evidence of the phantom witch… let’s head back to 1919.

[TRANSITION]

RAY: It’s the Spring of 1919, and America is turning into a car-driving society. Automobiles are coming down in price, and getting more accessible by the day. And cars need roads.

JEFF: Roads like Route 2 here in Maine. There’s already a path laid across the United States called the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway, but if it’s going to accommodate cars and trucks, it’s got to be bigger… and paved all the way. The plan is ambitious. A road that connects Portland, Maine, with Portland, Oregon. 2,571 miles of paved road from sea to shining sea.

RAY: For most of human history, towns and cities pop up near water. On major rivers and near big lakes. The water connection allows goods and services to move in and out of those cities. Then came the railroad, and suddenly towns can exist where they never could before. A railroad hub suddenly becomes a city. Now with roads and highways, towns can spring up almost everywhere. And those goods and services can now travel by truck to almost anywhere.

JEFF: Though the original plan was Portland to Portland, Route 2 in Maine actually starts about 200 miles further north from Portland, at Houlton International Airport. From there it heads mostly south down to Bangor, and then southwest from Bangor to the New Hampshire state line where it continues on westward.

RAY: And if we head about 50 miles north of Houlton, to the region around Caribou, Maine, we find a lot of potato farms. Tons of them.

JEFF: A lot of potato farms but not a lot of people.

RAY: True. So these potatoes need to make their way to grocery stores and restaurants all over New England. And to get there, they mostly travel by truck.

[TRUCK STARTING AND DRIVING OFF]

RAY: Many of those trucks head down Route 2A on their way to Bangor, Portland, Concord, New Hampshire, Boston, and other distribution centers. And some of those trucks…

[BIG CAR CRASH]

RAY: Some of them don’t make it.

JEFF: In the winter, this road can turn into a ribbon of ice. Trucks slide off the road, sometimes it just makes a mess, and no one gets hurt. Still, the damage can be costly. Like this accident that made the local newspaper.

NEWSMAN: On Santa Claus Hill in Reed Plantation, a tractor trailer until police said was operated by Richard Dill, 34, of Houlton, lost its brakes at the top of the hill. Dill said he saw there was no traffic coming from the opposite direction and decided to ditch the truck, as he did not think he could control it when he hit the sharp curve at the foot of the hill at the speed the truck would have been going. Dill jumped as the unit started into the ditch and was not hurt, but the tractor portion of the tractor-trailer burst into flames and was gutted.

RAY: Still, more accidents happen. And sometimes people DO get hurt. Like this story.

NEWSMAN: One man’s knee was broken, a tractor unit was gutted by flames and about $1,190 dollars damage was estimated in two tractor trailer truck accidents Thursday on Route 2A.

RAY: Over time, Route 2A in Haynesville is starting to get a dark reputation. Trucks and cars are damaged, some people get hurt, and even killed. And the legend grows.

JEFF: You’d think that dark reputation and legend might actually help with safety!

RAY: What do you mean?

JEFF: The more people hear how dangerous this road is, you’d think it would cause them to slow down and be more careful.

RAY: You’d think it would help, yet the tragic reports continue to make the papers. And sometimes the victims aren’t just the truckers, but sadly, their passengers.

NEWSMAN: Melody Lee Shorey, age 10, died Tuesday at Haynesville as a result of injuries received in a truck accident here.
RAY: By the 1960s, it’s well established in news and legend that this road through the Haynesville Woods is dangerous, maybe even haunted. The stories inspire some local guys to write a song about it.

JEFF: One of those guys is Maine’s native son, Dick Curless. He was born in Ft. Fairfield, Maine, in 1932. Curless grew up a singer and entertainer. His deep, baritone voice made him a local favorite. Curless also served in the Korean War where he worked with the Armed Forces Radio. During the war, they called him the “Rice Paddy Ranger.” And one floor above the radio station in Busan (PU-SAAN), Korea, was the harbor master’s office, where a man named Dan Fulkerson worked. Fate had plans for these two.

RAY: After the Korean War ended in 1953, both Curless and Fulkerson returned home. Dick went back to singing and entertaining with his Dick Curless Trio. Then around 1960, Dan Fulkerson moved himself to Maine. He saw a lot of potential talent with Dick Curless. He thought this guy could be a big, nation-wide star, not just a regional favorite. So the two formed Allagash Records.

JEFF: Fulkerson is writing songs and running the business, and Curless is performing. Together, they sell hundreds of records.

RAY: But hundreds of record sales doesn’t exactly make you a star.

JEFF: No it doesn’t. It takes thousands. Hundreds of thousands. But if they could just find the right song, the men know they’ll get there.

RAY: In the 1960s, country music finds itself enamored with trucks, driving, and hauling. In 1965, Roger Miller has a country hit with a song called “King of the Road,” and that’s when Fulkerson tries his hand at a truckin’ song.

JEFF: In music, as with all art, you should write what you know. These are guys living in Maine, and they know from reading the newspapers that some of these roads aren’t just lonely, they’re deadly. And soon it all comes together. The song starts with winter wind, then the story unfolds. Ray, you ready to sing a little of Fulkerson and Curless’s song?

RAY: I’m Ready.

SONG:
All you big and burly men who roll the trucks along
Better listen, you’ll be thankful when you hear my song
You have really got it made, if you’re haulin’ goods
Anyplace on earth but those Hainesville Woods

It’s a stretch of road up north in Maine
That’s never, ever, ever seen a smile
If they buried all the truckers lost in them Woods
There’d be a tombstone every mile
Count ’em off, there’d be a tombstone every mile

When you’re loaded with potatoes and you’re headed down
You’ve gotta drive the Woods to get to Boston town
When it’s winter up in Maine, better check it over twice
That Hainesville road is just a ribbon of ice

It’s a stretch of road up north in Maine
That’s never, ever, ever seen a smile
If they buried all the truckers lost in them Woods
There’d be a tombstone every mile
Count ’em off, there’d be a tombstone every mile

JEFF: That song spent two weeks at Number 5 on the Billboard charts. Not exactly the Beatles or Rolling Stones kind of numbers, but still, not bad for two guys from Maine singing about a road.

RAY: And now with a song written about it, the legend of the Haynesville Woods and its treacherous stretch of road continues to grow. People start to wonder, is the road that dangerous? Are truckers driving recklessly? Or could it be haunted or even cursed?

JEFF: Which brings us to the witch of the Haynesville Woods. There’s a story that’s been kicking around this area for a while now. It’s the story of a trucker who stops to pick up a hitchhiker thumbing a ride down Route 2A. The hitchhiker hops in the truck and says she’s going home to Lincoln, Maine. She gives the driver her address. The two are rolling along for a while when the trucker decides to stop in Mattawamkeag [Matta-Wam-Keg] for a cup of coffee. The driver asks if the hitchhiker would like to come in and join him, but she says, “No, I’ll wait in the truck.” The trucker shrugs, then heads inside for his coffee. When he returns to his truck, the hitchhiker is gone. He figures she must have hitched a ride with someone else. I mean, he’s a little put off that she didn’t say thank you, or tell him she was leaving, but, you know… people are strange. The trucker heads off again, but it’s kind of gnawing at him. Where did she go? Why did she leave so suddenly? So he swings by the Lincoln, Maine, address she mentioned, and knocks on the door.

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

JEFF: He asks the homeowner if the girl got home okay. The homeowner looks at the driver kind of funny and asks him to describe his passenger. The driver does, and is then informed that the girl he described died in a car accident in the Haynesville Woods a few years ago.

RAY: Scary! And a classic phantom hitchhiker story.

JEFF: Right. In some versions the hitchhiker is a man, but in most versions it’s a woman.

RAY: There’s another legend of an accident on this road that adds to its haunted reputation. Locals will tell you there was once a girl in her early twenties dressed in a fancy, white gown and heading to a party. While driving through the Haynesville Woods, her car gets a flat tire, so she pulls over to the side of the road. She attempts to flag down a driver for help. At first the car slows… but then it suddenly speeds up and runs over the helpless young woman. She’s crushed and killed under the weight of the oncoming car.

JEFF: That’s terrible!

RAY: But the strangest thing is, they say after the accident you could see her bloody dress on the road, and blood everywhere… but no bones! To this day the story goes you will see a woman in a white dress walking along the side of the road, but you never seem to catch up with her, before the road turns foggy and she disappears. (PAUSE) And that brings us back to today.

[TRANSITION]

JEFF: There’s no question this road is dangerous. The newspaper archives are filled with stories of vehicles running off the road, minor accidents, and even major accidents. We couldn’t find a record of a woman run over on the road, plus, the origins of phantom hitchhikers can be difficult to pinpoint anyway. But still… there may be something to this story. Check out this snippet from the October 4th, 1993 Bangor Daily News.

NEWSMAN: A Haynesville man was seriously injured Saturday when his pickup trucked rolled over on U.S. Route 2A. The driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle, which later came to rest on its wheels on top of him. While being rescued, the driver said he had not being driving the truck. He said that he had picked up a hitchhiker, whom he let drive. When the accident occurred, he said the hitchhiker fled. Rescuers and passers-by conducted a search along both sides of the road, but found no one. The exact cause of the accident is still under investigation.

RAY: Woah! In 1993 a pickup truck runs off the road and the man claims the hitchhiking driver vanished?

JEFF: No one ever found the driver. And suddenly everyone is talking about the haunting of the Haynesville Woods once again.

RAY: Between the accidents, the popular song, and all of the ghost stories tied to this stretch of road, you’d think people by now would know to drive carefully on this road through the Haynesville Woods.

JEFF: You’d think… yet accidents still happen as they have for many decades. Driving down this road, I can’t help but get a chill. Maybe it’s the winter wind, or maybe it’s because though there aren’t literal tombstones every mile, there are the stories, and the ghosts who still haunt this road to remind us that not everyone reaches their destination alive.

[OUTTRO]

RAY: We appreciate you riding along with us each week. And we really appreciate our patreon patrons! For only $3 bucks per month these folks get access to new episodes, plus bonus episodes and content that no one else gets to hear. In fact, for our next extra we’re uploading the full version of Jeff and I performing the “Tombstone Every Mile” song. Just head over to patreon.com/newenglandlegends to sign up.

JEFF: Please do get more involved with us. We love hearing from you, whether in our super-secret Facebook group, through our Web site, social media, or when you call or text our legend line anytime at 617-444-9683. We also appreciate it when you share our show with your friends. It goes a long way.

RAY: We’d like to thank Michael Legge for lending his voice acting talents this week, and our theme music is by John Judd.

JEFF: Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.

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