Haunted Lighthouses – St. Simons Lighthouse

On October 17, 1804, a plantation owner on St. Simons Island, Georgia, deeded four acres of his land at the south end of the island for one dollar to the Federal government for the construction of a lighthouse.

The first lighthouse and a one-story frame residence were built in 1810 at a cost of $13,775. The lighthouse tower stood 85 feet high and was in the shape of an octagonal pyramid. It was 25 feet in diameter at the base a
nd gradually narrowed to 10 feet in diameter at the top. A 10 foot high iron lantern ten feet high rested on top of the tower, and oil lamps were suspended on iron chains in the lantern.

The first keeper was appointed in May 1810 and the tower was lit for the first time. In 1857, a newer, more modern lens was installed and the lighthouse’s power and range were greatly improved.

The light guided mariners in St. Simons Sound for years until the Civil War. During the Civil War, artillery troops and six field guns were stationed at Fort Brown, just west of the lighthouse, to protect St. Simons Sound.

Evenutally, the Confederate troops were forced to evacuate due to an invasion by Federal troops. Before they left, however, they proceeded to blow up the lighthouse to prevent the opposing troops from using it as a navigational aid. For the next ten years, a cotton barn on nearby Retreat Plantation served as a navigational reference for ships entering Brunswick harbor. The tall cotton barn showed up on maps as “King’s Cotton House.”

The U. S. Government ordered the construction of a second lighthouse that was placed west of the first one. The construction consisted of a white, 104-foot tower containing a 129-step cast iron spiral staircase and a two-story brick lighthouse keeper’s dwelling next door.

The construction of the lighthouse brought tragedy, as the head of the construction and some of the crew didn’t live long enough to see their project completed. Stagnant ponds on the island were the perfect breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Many of the men were bitten and infected with malaria and died a year before the construction was finished.

Official records of the lighthouse keeper stated in 1874: “This station is very unhealthy, and it is attributed to the stagnant water in several ponds in the vicinity.” In 1876, the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment performed a complete overhaul of the lighthouse and the light keeper’s house to improve the condition of the buildings.

Originally, the keeper and his family along with the assistant and his family both lived in the keeper’s house. The keeper and his family resided downstairs and the assistant and his family lived upstairs. A central stairway connected the two households. The house was connected to the tower by a room in the keeper’s dwelling.

Around 1910, the building was converted into two apartments with the removal of the central staircase. An exterior staircase, stoop, and door were added on the north side giving access to the second floor. These steps and stoop were removed, the doorway re-bricked, and the central stairway rebuilt during the 1975 rehabilitation.

The lighthouse keeper’s house served as a home for the lighthouse keepers from 1872 until 1950. The lighthouse kerosene lamp was replaced by electricity in 1934. In the summer of 1939, the lighthouse was placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1953 the lighthouse was fully automated and the last lighthouse keeper retired.

Stories of the haunting stem from an argument in 1880, between then lighthouse keeper Frederick Osborne and his assistant. Apparently the two men got into a heated argument that ended with a fatal gunshot that left Osborne dead.

The assistant keeper, who was never charged in the case, continued tending the light, although legend says he didn’t seem to be tending it alone. Reportedly, he frequently heard the eerie sound of footsteps at night in the vacant tower.

Through the years, many other people claim to have also heard the sound of the heavy footsteps climbing the tower staircase, including the wives of keepers that tended the light in the years following the murder. Perhaps Osborne has decided to stay around and continue his duties.

In 2004, control of the lighthouse was handed over to the Coastal Georgia Historical Society under the Lighthouse Preservation Act. Today, with the assistance of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the light still serves as a navigational aid to help guide mariners through the dark nights and stormy weather.

Denise Villani is an author and the webmaster of several websites and article directories. Find more articles and information on haunted lighthouses by visiting

Haunted Lighthouses – Owls Head Light, Owls Head, Maine

The booming lime trade of the 1820’s on Maine’s midcoast led to the construction of a lighthouse on Owls Head, an area located at the entrance to Rockland Harbor, Maine. In 1825, President John Quincy Adams authorized the building of a lighthouse on a promontory south of Rockland Harbor in Penobscot Bay.

The relatively short, brick lighthouse – only 30 feet tall – is situated on a hill about 100 feet above the water.

A tall lighthouse was unnecessary because of the height of the promontory. The present brick tower was constructed in 1852 and fitted with a fourth-order fresnel lens. The tower remains relatively unchanged from the time when it was first built. Besides it’s unusually short height, the lighthouse also has a long series of wooden steps leading up to the light from the keeper’s house, which is a feature unique to this house.

The original lamps and reflectors were replaced by a fourth-order Fresnel lens in 1856, and the lens remains in use today. The ligthhouse was fully automated in 1989 and contnues to shine it’s that can be seen up to 16 nautical miles away to this day. Because the lighthouse is located in a region that is particularly prone to fog, the light is equipped with a powerful fog signal.

The origin of the name “Owl’s head” is somewhat of a mystery. Some have suggested that the promontory where the lighthouse sits looks like an owl from the water. Others say Owl’s Head is the English translation of the Indian name for the location, Medadacut.

Owl’s Head Light is known for many tales that have been passed down through the years. One of the most memorable tales is that of the frozen lovers. The area was hit by a massive storm on December 22, 1850 which caused five vessels to go aground. One of those, a small schooner, whose captain had gone ashore, was send out to sea after the cables tying it to the dock broke loose. The first mate, his fiance and and a seaman were left onboard to huddle together on the deck and nearly froze in the surf. The seaman was able to escape at one point and made it to shore, exhausted and nearly frozen. Fortunately, he reached the road the road to the lighthouse where he was rescued by the keeper. Barely able to speak, he alerted the keeper about the others still on the schooner and a rescue party was rounded up.

The rescue party found what was left of the schooner and found the young couple frozen in a block of ice. The couple appeared to be dead, but the men brought the block to the kitchen of the keeper’s house. They chipped the ice away, and slowly, if not miraculously, the couple began to show signs of life. The young couple soon recovered, evenutally married and had four children. Unfortunately, the seaman who perpetuated their rescue never recovered.

A second tale is that of a keeper’s dog who lived in the lighthouse in the 1930’s. The dog, named Spot, was trained to pull on the fog bell’s rope when he heard a boat approaching. In one incident, the rope was buried in the snow and Spot was unable to ring the bell. Instead, he barked continuously until he heard the approaching boat’s whistle beyond the rocks. Spot’s loud barking has been credited with warning the captain just in time to steer the boat and avoid the rocks. Spot was known as somewhat of a local hero and celebrity and is said to be buried on the side of the hill near the former location of the fog bell.

Oddly enough, the hauntings of Owl’s head Light don’t appear to be linked to either of these tales. The keeper’s house is said to be haunted by an “old sea captain” – who is most likely a former keeper, although no one is sure. According to local legend, one night the three-year-old daughter of a keeper woke her parents and announced, “Fog’s rolling in! Time to put the foghorn on!”. The parents had never brought up that subject with their daughter and had no clue where she would have picked up the lingo. They soon discovered that she apparently had an imaginary friend who resembled an old sea captain. He has been seen by other former keepers and likes to leave his footprints in the snow outside the lighthouse and polish the brass. He also may be responsible for lowering the thermostat and keeping the place chilly, perhaps in an effort to conserve energy.

The second spectre in the lighthouse is known as the “Little Lady”. The lady spirit is frequently seen in the kitchen. She seems to like to slam doors shut unexpectedly and rattle the silverware. Everyone who has encountered her has stated that her presence brought about a feeling of peace. Most agree that she is probably a wife of one of the many former keepers of the light who loved the place so much she decided never to leave.

Owls Head Light is located on an active Coast Guard facility. The keeper’s house is still used as a residence for Coast Guard personnel and the surrounding grounds are now known as Owl’s Head State Park. The orignial bell tower is now gone, but an 1895 oil house is still standing.

Denise Villani is an author and the webmaster of several websites and article directories. Find more articles and information on haunted lighthouses by visiting