Thursday, September 11, 2008
This is the former Dixmont State Mental Hospital. Opened during the Civil War and shutdown forever in 1984, I had the opportunity to tour the facility on a field trip my senior year of high school in 1980 with and for a psychology class. A couple of things stick in my mind about that visit: The building was in severe decline and ruin, and the young schizophrenic I spoke with knew more about flatworms than anyone else I've ever met. He carried with him a detailed notebook on all things flatworms. His pencil drawings were meticulous and precise. The simplicity of flatworm anatomy and function had him in its thrall. For the life of me I can't remember what that young man's face looked like, but I can still his hands moving over the pages of that notebook. Of course he asked me for matches. Everyone we encountered asked us for matches. Most of the patients smoked, but they weren't allowed to have lighters or matches. The staff would light their cigarettes, but they still all wanted their own matches. Sometimes I look at a book of matches as representing a little freedom. Not in a pyromaniac sort of way, but like how you strike a match and light the way through the darkness.
Anway, Dixmont was torn down and Wal-Mart meant to build a massive superstore on the site...but the hillside wasn't stable and resulted in a massive landslide onto Rt. 65 below. After further landslides Wal-Mart gave up on developing the site. There have long been rumors that Dixmont was haunted...