Spectral Lighthouse Keepers and More...
The desolation and loneliness of a lighthouse lends itself to spooky tales, spirits good and bad, and other spectral beings. Many legends and supernatural lore have sprung up about the lightkeepers, their family members and perhaps lost souls wrecked on the reefs.
A lightkeeper's life was fraught with danger and loneliness in some of the harshest possible environments. It was not the romantic adventure a lot of people think. It was a hard life, with continual work even with assistants. Having to be with people you may not like for extended periods of time without ever getting away can and did drive some to madness. Not only the light keepers, but their family members too. Children drowned or died from lack of access to mainland doctors, the land based pirates known as mooncussers were your enemies for taking away their livelihoods, the sea was often raging about you, it's no wonder with all that residual energy left behind that although the real lightkeepers are gone, their spirits may remain behind. Hardly a lighthouse exists that didn't have tales of hauntings or odd happenings.
When the Coast Guard took over from the US Lighthouse Service in 1939, the old style civilian lightkeeper who was (mostly) dedicated to his work came to an end. The Coasties considered it another job posting, and the job wasn't quite the same. And now that all but one of the 604 lightstations in the United States have been automated, all that is left are these tales of keepers left behind. Whether the apparitions are real, or just something the keepers made up for the amusement of visitors, I'll leave that up to you to decide.
An Unknown Ghost
I am fortunate enough to live within driving distance of several haunted lighthouses in Maine. In fact, I volunteer as a docent at Pemaquid, and even married my second husband there. It is one of the most photogenic lights, and definitely one of the most visited. Its location at the end of Rte. 130 brings people from all over the world past my home. Although this isn't noted as one of the more haunted lighthouses, it does have a ghost associated with it. Not in the tower, but in the former keeper's house, now the Fisherman's Museum run by the Town of Bristol, there occasionally appears a red haired lady in a shawl. Usually she's near the fireplace. No one seems to have any history on her, as no one ever died in the lighthouse, there have been no notable deaths associated with Pemaquid Light at all. Nevertheless, she has been seen on occasion. Perhaps a survivor of a shipwreck here, or waiting for a loved one who was lost? I don't know, but it's something to wonder about.
As a docent with the Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, I'd often have kids who'd been dragged along by their parents to see the lighthouse. Most would be bored, so to make it more fun and pique their interest in lighthouses and their history, I'd mention there was a ghost. Their eyes would light up and they'd pay attention. I'd tell them some of the other ghost stories, and with any luck I'd made a new generation of lighthouse enthusiasts. Some of the stories on these pages are the ones I'd use to intrigue the youngsters and their parents. The goal of this site is to get as many of the tales of these haunted beacons in one place, to excite the curiousity of our younger generations, and for everyone else, to just tell a darn good tale.
Are these legends true? Are the ghosts real? You decide...