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The strange lights of Stratton

Visit the village near Sugarloaf and hear stories of the unexplainable, unbelievable, and downright weird
By JOHN CRAWFORD  |  February 22, 2012

IMG_4732_FlagstaffLake_maiB
Located right next to Stratton, Flagstaff is a man-made lake. When it was created, the lake washed over a few villages. That fact, I think, is one of the things that gives the Stratton area that other-worldly feeling.

At first, Sue Critchlow thought the lights came from a car. She owns the Maine Roadhouse, a refuge for hikers and backpackers located not too far from the Saddleback and Sugarloaf ski resorts, and she figured lodgers were pulling up for the night.

But there wasn't a car, and these weren't ordinary lights. Going to the window, Critchlow saw three or four glowing orbs of different colors, each about the size of a dinner plate, floating in a field. Critchlow searched her mind, trying to find a rational explanation. The lights weren't from a car, and it was wintertime, so they couldn't be fireflies. What were they?

The orbs eventually floated up to the roadhouse, pulling to within a foot or two of the front door where Critchlow was watching. They hovered at eye level, right in front of Critchlow's face, but she held her ground until the lights faded away. "Some people would have packed up and left that night," she says, though Critchlow didn't feel threatened by the lights that evening in 2005. "I don't fear what I don't know. There is so much in life we can't explain."

Critchlow's roadhouse sits just outside the village of Stratton. Marked by a few cafes, general stores, and motels, Stratton is a cozy, unassuming place surrounded by mountains, water, and wilderness. From end to end, it takes mere moments to drive through, and many of its residents work at Sugarloaf and a wood mill and biomass plant in town.

Skiers typically don't visit Stratton, even though it's located only seven minutes or so past Sugarloaf on Route 27. But if they were ever to stop and hang around the village for a while, they might hear stories that are unexplainable, unbelievable, and downright weird. Through the years in the Stratton area, various residents claim to have spotted strange lights in the sky and encountered a mischievous ghost or two. Nothing yet this year, but there's still time . . .

Why the Stratton region would be such a supposed hotbed of supernatural activity isn't certain. Could the tall tales be just the product of some locals isolated in the woods with nothing but their imaginations to keep them company, or is there something more peculiar going on? Some say the ground has a "weird energy," and others mention the military training done in nearby Redington. A friend of Critchlow's once gave the region the apropos nickname "Area 52," in reference to Area 51, the top-secret military base. "The more you dig into the questions of this area, the more questions you find," says Sandi Isgro, owner of Stratton's White Wolf Inn.

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Route 16, between Stratton and Rangeley. A bunch of UFO sightings seem to happen near the area of this road (perhaps, not coincidentally, there is a military base nearby).

Along Route 16

Critchlow's roadhouse sits in what seems the epicenter of many of the eerie occurrences: the lonely Route 16 corridor between Stratton and Rangeley. Critchlow continues to see the floating colored orbs, spotting them about half a dozen times in all since opening for business in 2005, and she believes her lodge, built in 1890, may be haunted, given the sounds of doors shutting and boots trudging she sometimes hears when the place is vacant.

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  Topics: News Features , Lights, Ghosts, Sugarloaf,  More more >
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