Haunted New England Lighthouses
Ghosts and hauntings have always been a fascination for me. I’ve been reading about them and listening to stories since I was an impressionable child, but it wasn’t until I was alone in my grandmother’s creaky, old house as a teenager that I got to witness a paranormal encounter firsthand. To be honest, my experience scared me half to death, and I did my best to block it from happening again.
It took me a few years to get over my initial scare, but eventually my fascination resumed, as did my paranormal experiences. So, it’s quite natural that I often weave a paranormal thread—at times, quite subtly—into my novels. My inspiration comes from my own experiences as well as the hundreds of stories I’ve heard over the years, like the ones about the lighthouses that are sprinkled along the New England coastline.
Of the nearly 200 lighthouses that grace the Yankee shores, I want to share three with you that have been known to send a shiver down the spines of unsuspecting visitors.
New London Ledge Light
In Connecticut, the New London Ledge Light with its unique square, three-story, brick building is situated at the mouth of the Thames River where the Atlantic Ocean meets Long Island Sound. Its resident ghost Ernie (some say that wasn’t his real name) tends to be playful. Coast Guard crew members assigned to the light before it was automated reported doors opening and closing on their own, ghostly footsteps, middle-of-the-night knocking on doors, and bedcovers being pulled off while they were sleeping.
There seems to be a discrepancy as to exactly what happened to Ernie that led to his death. One account says he was so distraught after learning his girlfriend ran off with the captain of the Block Island Ferry that he committed suicide by jumping off the top of the lighthouse. Another says it was a bitter fight between them that led him to climb to the roof to cut his throat. His body fell into the sea but was never found. Sad story, for sure, either way.
In Massachusetts, Boston Light sits off the coast of Cohasset on Little Brewster Island in the Gulf of Maine. Built in 1716, its claim to fame as the oldest lighthouse in the United States lends itself to being haunted. It’s first keeper, George Worthylake, and his wife and baby drowned after their boat capsized in what has been described as calm waters. Some accounts say an African slave also perished with the Worthylakes.
To add to the tragedy at Boston Light, the second keeper Robert Saunders also mysteriously drowned after being on the job for only a week.
Later lighthouse keepers and their families have reported hearing footsteps when no one was there, a man’s laughter, and a child’s sobbing. From the keeper’s house, a man dressed in an old-fashioned keeper’s uniform was spotted in the lantern room when no one else was on the island. There have also been sightings of arms waving just above the surface of the water surrounding the island. Not too creepy, huh??
Owls Head Light
In Owls Head, Maine, the tower is on the short side as lighthouses go. Standing at just thirty feet, it makes up for being vertically challenged by sitting atop a one-hundred-foot bluff over the water. The tales told of paranormal activity there seem to be of an old sea captain and a former keeper’s wife. The latter, who is referred to as “Little Lady,” tends to rattle silverware and slam doors. It is said that her presence brings with it a sense of peace, and that she loved the place so much, she didn’t want to leave.
The sea captain who still hangs around has been seen polishing the brass on the light and apparently likes to leave his footprints in the snow. Yikes!
Who Can Stop at Three?
Okay, let’s look at one more. Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, Maine is one of my favorites because of its iconic white ramp over the rocks that lead up to the light. (It will be familiar to fans of the movie Forrest Gump.) There has been the usual reporting of paranormal activity in the keeper’s house that is now a museum, but the tale that will raise your hackles is about a young boy in the early 20th century who discovered some rum-runners and was chased to the road leading up to the light and murdered there. Since then, he’s been seen running on that road. Some say the rum-runner has also been spotted chasing the boy with a weapon in his hand.
All of these stories are fun to retell on a dark and stormy night. But unless you’re braver than I, you’ll be heading back to your car at these lighthouses before darkness falls….
Have you had a paranormal experience (whether at a lighthouse or not) you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it.
Read more about these tales in my references: