Haunted lighthouses bring a scene to mind of stormy seas, gloom, mist and foreboding. There are legends that tell us about strange happenings, and weird stories in a lighthouse setting.
Do you believe in these things? Some of us do, for sure. Others like hearing the stories, and keep them just like that - as good stories. Probably some just say - hogwash! What do you think?
Here are some of those haunted lighthouses. With those legends. Some well-known, others not so much. You can give it a thought as to whether you'd be willing to visit. Or how about trying a visit on a gloomy, thundery moonless (or even full-moon!) night? Probably there are some ghost hunters out there willing to do that!
Eerie Haunted Lighthouses!
U.S. Haunted Lighthouses
From the coastline of Maine, rounding the Florida peninsula, to the Gulf Coast. Then along the Pacific. Up along the Great Lakes. There are sure to be legends, phantoms and hauntings along these coastal waters.
Seguin Island Light Station - In the late 1920s Elison Small was lighthouse keeper. His wife Connie lived at the island station helping with duties there.1
Connie was cleaning up after breakfast, after Elison had left. She heard someone enter the living room from outside. She called to Elison, he didn't answer.
She looked in seeing a red-headed stranger. He asked in a thick Irish accent: could he rest by the stove to warm up. She said yes, and he lay on the floor behind it.
She went about her chores as he slept. About an hour later he woke, said thanks, refused the offer of food and left after bestowing a traditional Irish Blessing.
Later she found no boat had entered the island, no tracks were found, no one else had seen him. The incident was indeterminable. Was it an apparition of a shipwrecked seaman?
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse - Ira Scovill led a lifesaving patrol team at the light.1
One night frightened men on duty reported to him. A ghost at the wood's edge was trailing them as they kept their watch!
Ira irritatingly stated "no such thing!" Then traveled the path by the lighthouse near the woods, where he saw a shadowy ghost following.
Startled, he chased it. It ran off as he did, into the woods. He stopped, so did the ghost. He saw the ghost imitating all his motions.
He realized this ghost was a shadow on the fog, an atmospheric ghost. A form created in the unique circumstance of that night's fog and the lighthouse beacon's illumination!
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse Ghost Legend
Seul Choix Point Lighthouse2 - This French name, meaning only choice is pronounced: sis - shwa. Probably named by French sailors who picked the area as refuge during a storm.Now managed by the Gulliver Historical Society.
Lots of ghostly sightings over the years here, five are most common. But the primary one is cigar smoking Joseph Willie Townshend.
He died in the lighthouse, the embalming was done in its basement. His body was kept there for viewing while awaiting his family visit, likely 3 months later!
His activities: pushing back his kitchen chair, rearranging kitchen table settings, causing the alarm to go off at night, the scent of his cigar in the air.
A hard-worker who lived there is thought to be haunting it: Captain James S. Donahue. A difficult job as keeper for someone whose left leg was amputated above the knee. The injury was during a Civil War battle fighting with the Eighth Michigan Infantry. He served as keeper over 35 years.
The lighthouse is at the end of the pier: 1,125 ft. from the keeper's house. It has an added 75' catwalk to the light tower in case storm waves prevent pier access. Currently the public can access the pier, but not the lighthouse tower. The Keeper's Residence is only open by advance request.
People familiar with the keeper's house tell of unexplained sounds. Like human voices where there is no one, closing/opening doors, creaking floors, etc. They all believe it's the Captain, or those from his large family who all lived in the home.
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse - With the nickname "Terrible Tilly" you have to wonder about haunted legends right away! On a basalt rock island, it took around 2 years of construction attempts before the beacon finally shone January 1881. In October 1934 a terrible storm came through smashing its light, closing the book on its service.3
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse - An "eyrie" Place!
Now it's part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. But was previously owned by various private enterprises, including most recently: the Eternity at Sea Columbarium - A place for storage of Cremated Persons' Urns3
During construction, a rogue wave took away the chief mason forever. The construction crew endured one storm after another. Just before final completion, fog set in causing the sailing ship Lupatia to crash on the rocks. Of the crew, only the dog swam safely to the rocky shore.3
Keepers were given shorter assignments. But there's an alleged tale of one going insane still. He ground up glass and put it into the food of his assistant keeper! There are apparently 30 Ash Urns still on site. The Columbarium still accepts offers for future arrangements, although they don't have a license to do so.4 Perhaps they believe they will again?
Thus it has a reputation of being mysterious, and likely haunted. One place to get a glimpse of Tilly is from Ecola State Park. You can arrange a visit, you must get the Wildlife Refuge permission first. Not easy access: difficult by boat, helicopter the most practical.4
St. Augustine Lighthouse - They're proud of the reputation as a haunted lighthouse - you can go on their Ghost Tour! You'll hear about death tragedies there, and of interactions with apparent ghostly beings! The happenings that brought the likely spirits:
Near the end of 1859, the tower was being painted. The scaffolding broke and Joseph Andreu fell 60 feet to his death. Then in July 1873 during construction, 5 children were playing on a supply cart. It trapped them, and 3 of them drowned.
Tour guide Matt Hladik has reported feeling grabbed by his ankle, feeling arm hairs plucked, has seen furniture inexplicably move, a ghostly figure in the deserted tower, and saw an arm pulling back from a deserted room.5
Pensacola Lighthouse - Another haunted lighthouse in the state attracting ghost hunter TV programs. The lighthouse is on a Naval Air Station, so there is security measures needed when you visit. At one point it was called the most haunted lighthouse in the U.S. They have A "Night Tour" during which they say, six ghosts may be there to entertain you!
One is a woman who died giving birth. Thomas and Raymond were slaves on the run who were caught there and hung. Two children died of yellow fever there in 1922. They're noticed roving around many places in this haunted lighthouse when people get the shivers as the kids seem to laughingly pass through them!6
Haunted Lighthouses in Canada
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse - In Toronto Island Park. The most historical site in Toronto, built 1808, beacon lit in 1809. The mysterious legend surrounds its first keeper, J.P. Rademuller. He disappeared on January 2, 1815. Tradition says two soldiers joined him for his home-made brew. They killed him, cut him into pieces, and buried him about the lighthouse property. One story says their motive was they saw his brew left out overnight froze - showing the alcohol level was fraudulent. He haunts the site now!11
West Point Lighthouse - On Prince Edward Island. It's been named as one of Canada's most haunted places. An Inn since 1987, still unusual things happen. Lights come on, men are glimpsed and disappear on the double-take.10
Haunted Lighthouses in Europe
Hook Lighthouse - In County Wexford, reported as the oldest working beacon on earth, automated in 1966. Probably originating in the mid 1200s.12
The ghostly spirit of its builder is said to haunt it. Saint Augustine monks had keeper oversight for a time. Some say one monk's remains were buried within the tower, adding further ethereal atmosphere. Ghost hunters and mediums have lent credence to the supernatural aura of the area.12
Hook Lighthouse - Photo Credit: Phil Armitage
Skellig Michael Lighthouse - While the island was inhabited the keepers heard sounds of people crying out. They heard doors slamming, various banging noises, footsteps on the floors. It was especially disturbing when two keepers were there, which drove each of them to request removal. Although some stories tell us they just went insane!
Talacre Point of Ayr Lighthouse - At Talacre Beach in Wales, it's the oldest lighthouse in that country. You can also just call it Talacre Lighthouse. Now standing on a wide beach expanse, it hasn't been in service since 1883. With evaluations by mediums who've sensed the spirit of a man with a broken heart and a keeper with a fever. There have been haunted sightings at this lighthouse of a keeper at the top.9
South Stack Lighthouse - Built in 1809, watching over the Irish Sea. It's mentioned as a haunted lighthouse numerous times by many, and has been featured on the TV show, Most Haunted. However, no mention is made officially by their Visitor Center. It's location and features are stunning!
Tevennec Lighthouse - On an island off of Brittany, the beacon shining since 1875. It's still in service, but automatic since 1910. In the Raz de Sein Strait, known for its treacherous currents. The legend of its haunting arose from the first keeper, who's reported to have descended into insanity.7 A Celtic spirit called Ankou roams the lighthouse area. He's called death personified.8
2 Stampfler, D.H. (2019). Michigan's haunted lighthouses. Charleston, SC: The History Press.
3 Russell, V. (2017, April 11). The mystery of "terrible Tilly." Travel Oregon. Retrieved from traveloregon.com/things-to-do/culture-history/historic-sites-oregon-trail/the-mystery-of-terrible-tilly/
4 Atlas Obscura (2020) Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Columbarium. Retrieved from atlasobscura.com/places/tillamook-rock-lighthouse-skb
5 Bjorkman, S. (2014, Oct. 26). A look back: Haunted history at St. Augustine lighthouse. The St. Augustine Record. staugustine.com Retrieved from staugustine.com/article/20141026/NEWS/310269932
6 Long, C. (2019, Oct. 31) Pensacola lighthouse considered one of most haunted in America. Haunted History. News 5 WKRG. Retrieved from wkrg.com/haunted-history/pensacola-lighthouse-considered-one-of-most-haunted-in-america/
7 Diebelius, G. (2016, June 8). The eerie lighthouse abandoned since 1910 because it is 'haunted' and said to have driven keepers who lived there insane. Travel News. Daily Mail. Retrieved from dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3631226/Pictured-eerie-lighthouse-abandoned-1910-haunted-said-driven-keepers-lived-insane.html
8 Spinello, A. (n.d.) Living in the abandoned lighthouse that is haunted by legends of the dead. Marinareservation.com Retrieved from marinareservation.com/articles/mr-marc-pointud-in-the-haunted-lighthouse-tevennec/
9 Go North Wales (2020) Point of Ayr Lighthouse. Hauntings. Retrieved from gonorthwales.co.uk/things-to-do/attractions/landmarks/point-of-ayr-lighthouse
10 Sylvester, E. (2017, Aug. 17). The spooky story behind the Gibraltar Point lighthouse. Culture. Torontoist. Retrieved from torontoist.com/2017/08/spooky-story-behind-gibraltar-point-lighthouse/
11 Russell, N. (2017, Oct. 28). 'Chills up your spine': Are old lighthouse keepers haunting West Point? CBC. PEI. Retrieved from cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-west-point-lighthouse-haunted-1.4371389
12 Moynihan, P. (2013, Aug. 30). Hook Lighthouse and its haunting mysteries. Paranormal. The Spooky Isles. Retrieved from spookyisles.com/hook-lighthouse-and-its-haunting-mysteries/