Lighthouse Ghosts

Oct 27 2021, 7:00 am in ,

 Haunted Lighthouse

                                                                                                                                                          

From William Samuels’ Journal. 

Written on a plane headed to Kansas City.

     I love lighthouses. I grew up a block from the St. Augustine, Florida lighthouse. As a kid the grounds, with its old oaks were my playground. The light and the keeper’s house were basically abandoned after the Coast Guard automated the light.

     I’m not admitting to anything but…entering the structure was—cough—hypothetically possible. Hypothetically, I spent some rainy afternoons in the keeper’s house with a girlfriend or two, making out. Occasionally, of an evening, Clay, my best friend in high school, and I would entice our dates to climb in a window and go into the light. Not up to the top, just stay at the bottom where it was nice and private. I’ve only been to the top a handful of times. Not because it’s 219 steps to the top, but up past the first 50 or so steps I got a queasy, dizzy feeling. Like vertigo. Pretty sure it’s because of the heavy smoke smell permeating the walls. Accumulated from years of cigar and pipe smoking keepers. I also hear phantom footsteps that kept my feet firmly on the ground. One of the times I did go to the top was with a girl. While we were up there she clocked my hard enough to cause a bloody nose. Why? She said I tried to push her over the iron stair railing. I didn’t lay a hand on her and I was pretty mad she said I did something like that.

     Anyhow, that’s how I got started with lighthouses.

     I went away to journalism school at the University of Missouri and believe it or not there aren’t any lights there. I was so used to the beam from the St. Augustine light sweeping past my window every minute and a half I had trouble sleeping. I tried setting a timer on a lamp to mimic the light. Roomie put an end to that real quick.

     After graduation I worked for a couple of small newspapers and freelanced. I could see the internet was killing print media and in my spare time—which had become more than my working time—I began to write the great American novel. Quickly learned I’m no Stephen King. Writing is hard. One night at the corner pub I was telling a friend my sad tale of woe and he gave me the name of a client of his looking for a ghost writer. Well, hell. I gave it a try and found out I could do it and do it well. I live comfortably off my earnings. So do two ex-wives.

     I recently traveled to Michigan to work with a client, I’ll call Sam for the telling of this, on his auto-biography. Before taking on a gig I visit with my client to gage the tempo of their speech and get a feel for where they live. This makes the ghost writing easier. Sam spent his childhood and adult life on the upper-peninsula, or thumb, as the locals call it. A nice guy, nothing earth shaking in his life. I enjoyed listening to his rich story telling style.  Some interesting stuff, like his grandfather came to Michigan from Boston on an orphan train. We bonded big time when Sam tells me about a nearby haunted lighthouse where he and his friends hung out. I’ll be honest, I never thought about lighthouses in Michigan. But, get this, Michigan has more than any other state. Michigan’s rocky shores on four great lakes are home to a hundred and twenty lights. Florida has thirty. Yeah. We shared a few lighthouse stories and a lot of damn good whisky.

     Contract signed and my business concluded, on a whim, I drove my rental to a few of the Michigan lights. At each I was greeted by enthusiastic volunteers who treated me to the stats, stories and secrets of their wards. These bastions are pretty damn amazing. Most, built in the late nineteenth century on inhospitable rocky islands and desolate land, are pounded year round with treacherous weather. Yet, they’re still standing.  Gotta tip my hat to those who built the towers without the heavy equipment we have today.  One thing they had in common with the St Augustine light, they smell of cigar and pipe smoke. I mentioned this to the woman—an aging hippie type—showing me around. She stopped dead in her tracks and put her hand to her throat, breathing hard. Eyes big as Oreos. Thought she was having an attack and was reaching for my phone to call 911 when she told me, in a halting whisper only special people could smell the smoke.

     Alrighty then.   Said my good-bys and beat feet it out of there.

     I made my way to the next Light where a great guy and his wife show me around. At the top of the light the lady, in a hushed voice, says, “The windows are clean.” I thought she was responsible and asking for an atta girl so I told her she did a good job. Although I wasn’t sure how she’d managed to do the outside. The Mrs. politely informs me she didn’t clean the windows, the ghost did.   

     Okay.

     Moving on, I mention it’s too bad the smoke smell can’t be removed by cleaning. The couple give me a hard look. The Mr. chimes in that not everyone can smell the smoke from the light keeper’s cigars. As if I’ve given them a secret handshake into a paranormal club, tales of haunted lighthouses around the country pour from them. Strange lights, music playing, cries of women and sailors, heavy footsteps on the stairs. Cleaning ghosts, like the one here, who clean light windows and brass. Specters of women in flowing white gowns and men in pea coats.      

     On the ground, outside and after the hairs on my body returned to their proper positions I was slapped alongside the head with a book idea. Thoughts swirled in my mind and I wasn’t able to think of anything else. I’ve heard writers speak of getting ideas this way but this is a first time experience for me. I’m excited. Excited about writing for myself. I can hardly sit still. The woman in the seat next to me keeps giving me funny looks. I gave her a big smile and tell her I’m going to write a damn good book about a haunted lighthouse.

     Some of this is true. Some is not. Can you tell which is which?

                                                                                     Rita

This is a repost  

St. Augustine Lighthouse. Haunted Lighthouse series.

Oct 20 2021, 7:00 am in

 Happy 147th Birthday to the St. Augustine, Florida Lighthouse

                                                                                                                                                                                           

 The St Augustine Light is an active light.  It stands 165 feet above sea level, with 219 steps to the top, and overlooks the Matanzas Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from Anastasia Island.  It is the first Florida light commissioned by the American government in 1824 and has a first order Fresnel lens now lit with a 1000 watt bulb.  The light is St. Augustine’s oldest surviving brick structure, and stands where, soon after arriving in the mid-1500s, the Spanish built a watchtower. A spot to watch over the town and see out to the ocean for 450 years. In modern times during World War II armed Coast Guardsmen used the tower to watch for enemy ships and submarines.

This light is also said to be haunted. Having grown up a couple of blocks from this light I can say I’ve been inside more times than I can count. To the top only a handful of times. I’d say half of those ‘visits’ were after dark.  Do I think it’s haunted? Well, let’s say during the day I’m a skeptic. At night – I believe. Mind you, I’ve never seen anything, but there is a feeling. That’s the only way I know how to explain.  

Who are these ghosts? There was a suicide by hanging and a man who fell from the first tower might be still around. A keeper and the wife of another keeper died there.  Three children died in an accident. Pirates were imprisoned and executed there. Some are buried on the grounds.   

Then there is the story about the original owner of the lighthouse who had the light taken from him by eminent domain and threatened never to leave. Some say his spirit still walks the tower late at night. Anyone of these men could be the cigar smoking ghost reported in the fuel house.

People say they’ve heard the laughter of children in the tower, and one has been seen, wearing the same blue dress she drowned in. Some have glimpsed a shadowy figure in the tower, a hand coming through the tower door and furniture moving around by itself.

I will also say if I’d seen anything I would never go back. The feeling in there is creepy enough.

According to the ghost hunters from the Syfy TV series Ghost Hunters there is paranormal activity there.  The main stars of the show, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, dubbed the lighthouse complex “the Mona Lisa of paranormal sites.”

Dozens of YouTube videos online are also devoted to paranormal events here.

Other researchers say the light is not haunted. Everything can be explained.  

                        What do you think?

                                                Rita

 This is a repost   

 

Haunted Yaquina Bay Oregon Lighthouse

Sep 22 2021, 7:00 am in

Are the stories true? 

This was previously posted. 

               Yaquina Bay, Oregon. The charming two-story clapboard structure was deserted a mere three years after its light was first lit in 1871 and it remained empty for fourteen years. In 1889 The Army Corps of Engineers used it to house one of their engineers and his family. That is, until it was heavily damaged in a hail storm and struck by lightning. It’s had spotty off and on use until it was privately purchased and relit in December 1996 as an aid to civilian navigation.

     Deserted and in disrepair, it has ever since been the setting for many a ghostly tale. The most famous being about Muriel Travenard, born at the end of the 18th century to a sea captain and his wife. Her mother died when she was young, and for a time she sailed with her father. When she was a teen the captain decided to leave his daughter behind with friends in Newport. Weeks lengthened into months, and the captain didn’t return. Muriel and a group of friends decided to explore the abandoned and dilapidated lighthouse. They discovered an iron plate in the floor on the second level of the light opening to a deep hole. Nothing exciting there so they went off to explore. And you know teens they didn’t bother to put the iron plate over the hole. Muriel remembered she’s left her scarf inside and went to retrieve it.  

     She didn’t return. Friends went to look.  

     You know what’s coming.

     She was nowhere to be found. But…… they did find a pool of blood and a blood trail leading to the deep and mysterious hole which was now—mysteriously— closed. The teens tried to open the door, but couldn’t.  (Feel free to use your Rod Sterling voice reading that.)

     Help was summoned. A through search of the lighthouse and grounds made.

     No Muriel.  

     Are you saying, “look in the hole dummies?”

     Thing is, as the story goes, the plate was frozen in place and couldn’t be pried open.  I find that a little iffy. But anyhow, Muriel, or her body, was never found. Dark stains mark the floor where, what is believed to have been, her blood was found.

     Over the years there are claims Muriel’s ghost has been seen peering out of the lantern room or walking down the path behind the lighthouse.  

      Now here is where the story gets a little wonky. It may or may not be true. All this falderal could have originated from Lischen Miller’s story, “The Haunted Lighthouse,” published in an 1899 issue of Pacific Monthly. A fictional account of a girl named Muriel Trevenard, who mysteriously disappeared in the lighthouse after returning to retrieve her handkerchief. 

     Hmmm. So whatcha think? Fact or fiction? Did Ms. Miller hear the legend and write her story or, did the legend get legs from her story?

                                                   Rita

 

 

   

home | about rita | books | character interviews | extras | contact

© 2010-2022 Rita Henuber. All rights reserved.