With Halloween upon us, we asked historian and author Jeremy D’Entremont—a.k.a., Mr. Lighthouse—to give us his picks for the most celebrated haunted lighthouses in New England. Here’s his list:
1: Owls Head Light, Maine
Residents of the keeper’s house at Owl’s Head, after fresh snowfalls, have often seen footprints leading up the stairs to the lighthouse—seemingly beginning from nowhere and ending at the door to the tower. The wife of one Coast Guard lightkeeper once saw what appeared to be the indentation of a person moving around in a bed, when nobody was there. The young daughter of another Coast Guard keeper had an imaginary friend she described as an old sea captain. Others have seen both male and female apparitions inside the house. A photograph taken by a recent visitor shows a transparent male figure standing near the oil house.
2: Portsmouth Harbor Light, New Hampshire
Multiple spirits appear to haunt this lighthouse and adjacent Fort Constitution. The usual suspect is Keeper Joshua Card, who served at the lighthouse from 1874 to 1909—until he was 86 years old. Several visitors have reported vivid sightings of Card around the lighthouse, and several others have heard a mysterious male voice inside the tower. Keeper Card liked to tell people that the “K” on his uniform lapels stood for “Captain.” When New England Ghost Project conducted the first-ever paranormal investigation here in 2005, a researcher said into a digital recorder, “Who’s there?” When the recording was played back, a male voice was distinctly heard answering: “The Captain.”
3: New London Ledge Light, Connecticut
This beautiful 1909 building is the residence of a famous ghost known as “Ernie,” said to be a lovelorn lighthouse keeper who committed suicide in the 1930s after his wife ran away with a ferry captain. Coast Guard crews at the lighthouse experienced a multitude of strange phenomena—furniture rearranging itself, navigation equipment behaving erratically, boats untying themselves, and more. A recent investigation by New England Ghost Project resulted in an intriguing alternate theory regarding the ghost’s identity—that he was a construction worker who fell from the roof to his death, rather than a keeper.
4: Seguin Light, Maine
Seguin Light is home to the famous “piano playing ghost.” According to legend, a keeper in the mid-1800s bought his bored wife a piano to help her pass the lonely hours at the island lighthouse. Along with the piano, the woman was given only one piece of sheet music, a popular song that she quickly mastered. She played the song over and over, until it drove her husband insane. One day the keeper chopped the piano to kindling then proceeded to kill his wife and himself, so the story goes. The veracity of the legend is questionable, but there’s no doubt that many people have heard lovely, soft piano music that has been described as sounding “like a memory,” drifting on the breeze at Seguin Island.
5: Boon Island Light, Maine
Rocky, isolated, and forlorn Boon Island, some 6 miles from the nearest point of land in southern Maine, was the site of the famous 1710 shipwreck of the British ship Nottingham Galley. Of 14 men on board, 10 survived nearly a month on the island through harsh winter weather, but only because they resorted to cannibalism. Some blame this for the weird activity on the island, while others cite a legend of a young keeper who died on the island in winter. His wife, they say, lost her mind and was found wandering the rocks; it’s said her sad spirit still appears on the island. Coast Guard keepers spoke of feeling they were being watched by “something” when they would go outside at night. On one occasion, 2 keepers left the island in the afternoon to go fishing. As they rushed back so they could turn the light on at sunset, they were shocked to see the light apparently turn itself on. There was nobody else on the island, and they never figured out who—or what—turned on the light that day.
- Read more about lighthouse expert Jeremy D’Entremont and his excellent website by CLICKING HERE.
- Review of D’Entremont’s book: The Lighthouses of Maine, JUST CLICK HERE.
- To visit New England Lighthouses a Virtual Guide, CLICK HERE.
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