|Stephen King was a quick study in terrifying people, as evidenced by this UMO "public service announcement"|
On our third day in Stephen King Country, we started visiting locations just outside of Bangor. First up was a short jaunt to King's alma mater, the Univeristy of Maine at Orono. This is where the author wrote his earliest Bachman novel, The Long Walk, as well as an unpublished novel called Sword in the Darkness, which still exists in the special collections of the campus library. It's also where he wrote his earliest Night Shift stories: "Here There By Tygers," "Cain Rose Up," "Strawberry Spring," "The Reaper's Image," "Jerusalem's Lot" (the foundation for the novel 'Salem's Lot) and "Night Surf" (the foundation for the novel The Stand). Years later, UMO also became the setting of the 1999 story "Hearts in Atlantis," which is based on King's experiences as a college freshman during the late 1960s.
King spent his freshman year in the Gannett Hall dorm on the northeast side of campus. On the back side of the building, there is a lawn overlooking three other dorms, including Androscoggin Hall (named for the meandering river that runs through King's hometown of Durham, and once provided the life blood for local industry). In a senior year editorial for the school newspaper, he remembered his initial impression of the place:
"There I was all alone in Room 203 of Gannett Hall, clean shaven, neatly dressed, and as green as apples in August. Outside on the grass between Gannett and Androscoggin Hall there were more people playing football than there were in my hometown. My few belongs looked pitifully uncollegiate. The room looked mass-produced. I was quite sure my roommate would turn out to be some kind of freak, or even worse, hopelessly more 'With It' than I. I propped my girl's picture on my desk where I could look at it in the dismal days ahead, and wondered where the bathroom was."
|Gannett Hall (view from Androscoggin Hall)|
|Androscoggin Hall (view from Gannett Hall)|
While in Orono, we visited the house and noted that it would have not only provided King with an inspiring view of the rushing Penobscot River, but also a view of a train trestle spanning the waterway. Perhaps this was an early inspiration for "The Body" / STAND BY ME?
|Penobscot River (view from Orono)|
|train trestle near the Penobscot River in Orono|
Louis Creed, the modern-day Dr. Frankenstein whose life gets turned upside down and inside out by Indian magic, describes his house as "a big old New England colonial (but newly insulated, the heating costs, while horrible enough, were not out of line in terms of consumption), three big rooms downstairs, four more up, a long shed that might be converted to more rooms later on - all of it surrounded by a luxuriant sprawl of lawn, lushly green in this August heat." The Kings lived in a similar house off of River Road, a busy stretch of two-lane highway that was responsible for the death of the family cat... and the birth of an idea. The other main inspiration was a real pet cemetery in the woods behind their house, which has (according to King researcher George Beahm) been picked clean by rude fans over the years.
|The house in Orrington where Stephen King wrote Pet Sematary|
The location of Louis Creed's house from the film is actually a bit further east, on Point Road in the sleepy town of Hancock. This setting is a bit more remote, and it's hard to imagine that very many trucks pass through there, since the road dead ends on the water less than a mile from the house. Nevertheless, some fans insist that they have had to dodge fast-moving trucks on this road. Fact or fiction? You be the judge. Regardless, the vast woods surrounding the property offer plenty of inspiration for dark imaginings.
|The house from the movie PET SEMATARY (viewed from behind - trucker's POV in the movie)|
|The house from PET SEMATARY (view from the front)|
|Judd Crandall's house no longer exists (it was burned down for the movie), but the shed is still across the street.|
|Acadia - looking south from the eastern edge of Park Loop Road|
|Acadia - looking northeast toward the Porcupine Islands|
|View of Bar Harbor from the top of Cadillac Mountain|
|Near the corner of Main St. and Clark Point Road in Southwest Harbor|
|Southwest Harbor - view from Beal's Lobster Pier|
Our first stop was at Hampden Academy, whre the author was working as an English teacher at the time Carrie was published. The school has a long history, dating back to its 18th century origins as a seminary. Today the institution is a massive complex with so many buildings that it was difficult to locate the original site where King would have taught in the early 70s. On Cottage Street, we eventually found the real-world correlative to Johnny Smith's Cleaves Mills school in The Dead Zone.
|Hampden Academy - the old seminary building|
|Immediately adjacent: the Hampden Academy front lawn - site of the Battle of Hampden during the War of 1812|
Haven is situated along Route 9 near the towns of Troy and Albion; the most likely candidate for a real-world counterpart seems to be Dixmont, which has a historic town house and a town office, but not much else. In the novel, several visitors leave Haven with gruesome nosebleeds and stop at the general store in Troy to clean themselves up. In the novel, the owner of the store does a thriving business in cheap t-shirts. We stopped at the store, but didn't see any t-shirts for sale.
|Troy General Store|
|Route 9 near Dixmont|
We decided to stick to roads that exist on traditional maps. After passing through the sprawling community of China Lake (home to the "China Dine-Ah"), we jumped on the interstate in Augusta. It would have been easy to route ourselves through nearby Togus and check out the VA hospital where Teddy Duchamp's father was incarcerated in "The Body," or to head for Lewiston (a common point of reference in Stephen King's novels) and search for the "real" Kingdom Hospital, but I was eager to get to the heart of Stephen King Country -- the author's childhood home and the inspiration for Castle Rock.
Continued in PART 4: DURHAM, LISBON FALLS, CASTLE ROCK & 'SALEM'S LOT