By Ben Scott
Lighthouses are beacons of light and safety, sometimes the only lifeline for seafarers lost in the dark of night or the chaos of a violent storm.
However, lighthouses don’t always work—many sailors, captains, and passengers have died from coastal accidents, pirate attacks, or an inability to see the light of these coastal beacons. In addition, the lighthouse keeper’s job is one of isolation, fear, and uncertainty in the face of massive responsibility. It is for these reasons that many believe lighthouses are haunted—many first-hand witnesses pass down stories of unfortunate souls that linger long after their death. Here are five haunted lighthouses that you should check out…if you dare
Point Lookout Lighthouse
The undisputed king of haunted lighthouses, Point Lookout Lighthouse was built in 1830 and happened to be near a U.S. general hospital and a prison camp during the Civil War. The prison camp was afflicted with disease due to overcrowding, and as a result, many believe that the souls of the lost soldiers and other victims have cursed the building. Ghosts and specters of varying ages, genders, and moods have been seen both at the top of the lighthouse and the infamous basement. Doors and windows open and close seemingly on their own. People have reported hearing voices, footsteps, and loud snoring as well. The lighthouse is currently closed, but is under renovation to become a museum. As soon as that happens, we’ll add it to our ever-growing haunted museum list.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
St. Augustine, Florida
A close second, the St. Augustine Lighthouse was built in 1874 over the remains of another lighthouse built hundreds of years earlier, whose final caretaker Mr. Andreu fell to his death while attempting to paint the tower. The original landowner, Dr. Ballard, did not wish for another lighthouse to be built on the site. As a result, it is thought that both of these men still haunt the lighthouse to this day. However, there is more: several little girls drowned while playing on the lighthouse tramway. People have reported being followed, hearing voices, and seeing cigar smoke, along with the figure of a little girl in the lighthouse’s tower and a tall blue man in the basement. The last lighthouse keeper had an encounter in the 1960s and refused to live in the lighthouse any longer, so be warned before you step foot in this cursed building.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon was built in 1894, and took many years to complete because it’s so high up (200 feet above water!). This haunted lighthouse is unique in this list as its ghost seems to be friendly. Rue, also called The Grey Lady, has been reported to help tidy up the lighthouse when the keeper is working. People have reported seeing the Grey Lady in the lighthouse window, along with hearing her scratching and knocking against the floors and walls.
One worker accidentally broke a window from the outside, and before he could enter the top of the lighthouse to clean up, he found that all of the shattered glass had been neatly swept into a pile. A grave of an infant has been discovered on the lighthouse grounds, and many believe it is the baby of Rue, and the reason she still haunts the building to this day.
St. Simons Lighthouse
St. Simons Island, Georgia
St. Simons Lighthouse in Georgia was built in 1874, on top of an older lighthouse, which was burnt by Confederate soldiers to prevent the Union from using it. In 1880, the keeper of the lighthouse, Frederick Osborne, got into a nasty quarrel with his assistant John Stevens, and the matter concerned their wives. The conflict ended in blood—John Stevens shot and killed Osborne, but a jury aquitted Stevens determining he acted in self defense. In addition, Stevens replaced Osborne and became keeper of the lighthouse. Years passed, and Stevens, along with others, began to hear mysterious footsteps walking up and down the lighthouse tower. If you want, you can walk up the long 129-step spiral staircase—just know you may not be walking alone
Point Sur Lightstation
Big Sur, California
Point Sur Light Station was built in Big Sur in 1889, after a large steamship sank in the area several years before. In 1935, the airship U.S.S. Macon crashed and sank off the coast of Big Sur, killing two passengers. Today, people report seeing the ghost of a man in a keeper’s outfit with grey, empty eyes. Perhaps it is the man who watched the Macon crash, still horrified with the sight of the two souls lost forever at sea? Only you can find out the truth during a moonlight tour—and while you’re at it, take in the beautiful coastal Big Sur scenery.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2019 issue.