Posted by: penpatience | July 1, 2017

HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES – Are you afraid of ghosts?





WRITERS WORDS:  “One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” – Jeannette Walls, Author





Sum-Sum-Summertime, the livin’ is easy and lighthouses are beckoning. Lighthouses have been historically heralded as symbols of maritime safety with Fresnel lens the bright beacons guiding mariners through treacherous seas. Every year I try to visit at least one lighthouse that is open to the public. I like to immerse myself in a lighthouse’s specific history and climb the steps for a spectacular ocean view. I never realized that that some lighthouses in the United States are considered haunted and thought to have ghosts. It was through reading about a lighthouse that had served mariners for over a century that I discovered—Ernie, the ghost of the New London Ledge Lighthouse!

The New London Ledge Lighthouse perched out in Fishers Island Sound at the mouth of the Thames River was built to supplement the New London Harbor Light in coping with increased boat traffic to New London Harbor.  It was completed and placed in operation on November 7, 1909, a unique three-story building incorporating Colonial Revival and French Second Empire designs. Keepers kept coming and going and the lighthouse survived the 1938 hurricane with waves crashing up to the second floor and keepers taking refuge in the lantern room. Later in 1987 when the lighthouse was automated the keepers left, that is– all except for Ernie, the Ledge Lighthouse ghost!

Facts about how Ernie came about are hard to come by but stories abound. The assumption is that Ernie was a lighthouse keeper at Ledge Light sometime between the 1920s or 30s. He had a younger wife who lived ashore. She ran away with a Captain of The Block Island Ferry (my guess is she didn’t like living in isolation surrounded by the relentless sound of the sea.) Desolate and lonely its surmised Ernie jumped or fell from the lighthouse roof, his body never found. Visits to the lighthouse from a paranormal and medium came up with a tentative name of John but couldn’t confirm a surname. Whether Ernie ever existed is now a moot point. The stories have become legend and Ernie haunts the lighthouse to this day. He turns on the foghorn on clear days. Boats are mysteriously untied. There are cold spots inside the lighthouse, strange noises and whispers occur and sometimes a keeper figure appears in a window or is sensed pacing about. A song, “When Ernie Sets the Table” sung by Matty Kaspak contributes to the numerous tales surrounding Ernie.  So, is Ernie the only lighthouse ghost?

No, Ernie is just one of many lighthouse residents. Many lighthouses listed in the top ten haunted lighthouses in the United States claim to have ghostly apparitions and activities.  A sampling:

Point Lookout Lighthouse-Maryland:  It’s often called America’s most haunted lighthouse with documented paranormal activity since the 1860s. Ann Davis, the spirit of the lighthouse’s first keeper has been seen standing in the doorway. Disembodied voices and strange noises have been recorded on audiotape. Figures lost during the Civil War have been seen wandering the basement and grounds searching for graves that were moved a century ago.

St. Augustine Lighthouse – Florida: the voice of the 12 year old daughter of the lighthouse’s builder who drowned near the building can sometimes be heard. A large, dark male figure has been seen in the basement, possibly the spirit of a former caretaker who hung himself in the lighthouse.

Plymouth Lighthouse-Massachusetts: John and Hannah Thomas were the keepers in 1769. John was killed in the Revolutionary war. Hannah was the first woman lighthouse keeper. Some believe Hannah still roams the lighthouse looking for her husband. Once a man and his wife were sleeping there and he awoke to find Hannah floating over his wife. He believed that she thought her husband had come back from the war.

Presque Isle Light-near Alpena, Michigan: The tale is told that a lighthouse keeper’s wife went insane because of loneliness of her husband’s job.  He imprisoned the madwoman in a cell below the lighthouse and she spent her last days shrieking insanely.  It’s believed her screams can still be heard today.

I’m sure there are skeptics that don’t believe in ghosts believing an unusual noise is just a high wind blowing through an open lighthouse window or the ebb and flow of noisy seas crashing on rocks below. However, keeper lives were often perilously lost. Isolation away from friends and families took a huge toll on lighthouse keepers living solitary lives with only books, chores, and a bright light shining over dangerous seas for company.

I believe “Ernie” may still be pining away for his lost wife, hanging around the New London Ledge Lighthouse continuing to cause supernatural havoc in the hope—someday, his fickle wife might return.

ERNIE! Turn on the foghorn for me.  I’m hoping to stop by this summer!

Readers and Writers:  HAPPY 4TH OF JULY-Safe travels to all this summer –be safe!


  1. As usual, this was wonderful and gave me chills! Thank you, Frances!!


    • Hi Pat,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It’s hard to believe these weird happenings. C’est la vie! 🙂


  2. Pat, Thank you for your recent comments. I appreciate your interest and support. Hopefully I can continue topics that readers enjoy!


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