Monday, August 18, 2008
The Pensacola Lighthouse is a real haunted lighthouse. The lightship Aurora Borealis was the first Pensacola Light. A lightship is a permanently moored ship that has a light beacon mounted on it. Because the seas here were often choppy, the lightship was anchored on the bay behind Santa Rosa Island. Because of this, the lightship proved inefficient and unreliable and was quickly replaced in 1824 by a permanent lighthouse. The replacement lighthouse and keeper's house were constructed in about two months at a cost of $5,725.
The spirit of the first lightkeeper, Jeremiah Ingraham, is said to be the reason for the haunting. Jeremiah relocated from New England in December of 1824 to assume the lightkeeper duties at the Pensacola Light.When he saw how simple it was to grow his grapes, rice, strawberries and other crops, he grew very fond of the tropical Florida climate. He lived this abundant bachelor life for two more years, then decided it was time to take a wife.
The lightkeeper got married in 1826, and three children soon followed.They hired a young Negro boy as an apprentice lightkeeper, and soon took on caring for an ailing relative. Even with everyone who was able to do so pitching in to hunt and harvest the crops, there just never seemed to be enough food. This issue seemed to be the root cause of heated arguments and underlying tension for years. Jeremiah's wife pressured him constantly, saying he wasn't doing enough, although he seemed to work ceaselessly.
This went on for the nearly thirty years the couple ran the lighthouse. After 30 years, the children were grown and on their own, and the couple was alone in the house.
One night, for reasons still unknown, Jeremiah's wife got up in the middle of the night, went downstairs, and found the sharpest knife in the drawer. She proceeded back upstairs and stabbed her husband in the back. As she watched him die, she formulated her plan for covering up her actions. She got rid of anything that might incriminate her and told the authorities her husband was killed in a hunting accident.Her ploy worked, and she soon took over tending the lighthouse.
Her duties as lightkeeper we made nearly impossible constant malfunctions. Countless mechanical problems, setbacks and malfunctions seemed to taunt the guilty wife on a daily basis. Was it the spirit of her murdered husband tormenting her?
Stories say she witnessed random things fly through the air, heard ominous laughter in vacantrooms, saw shadows in the windows of the locked tower at night, regularly smelled the essence of pipe tobacco, and felt frigid blasts of air no matter how hot the fireplace was burning. The Pensacola Lighthouse definitely seems to have the makings of a real haunted house.
Even though the old station was completely rebuilt, reports say the bloodstain of Jeremiah's murder shows through the floorboards of the upstairs bedroom of the current keeper's house. It doesn't matter how hard it is scrubbed or what cleanser is used, the stain always comes back. The son of a former keeper said that when he used to pull the chains to keep the lens turning, he always heardbreathing in the room with him, even though he was alone. Visitors have reported having their name whispered into their ear by some unseen force. Unseen hands open and close doors, and residents would hear footsteps walking in the direction of the front door, the door would open and close, then the footsteps would continue on to the gate, where the gate would open and close, then the footsteps would stop.
Coast Guard crews can't keep the doors locked. They lock the doors, double-check to ensure they're locked, and then come back the next day to find them all unlocked. Many of them have also smelled the pipe smoke; one even reported actually seeing the smoke. Almost everyone who goes there feels as though they aren't alone in the tower. Still others are startled by the sudden slamming of the hatch to the lantern room, when they know no one is there. They're pretty sure this is a real haunted lighthouse.
Maybe the creepiest report is that of a volunteer and his wife from the late 1980's. The light had gone out and they were asked to go up and check it out. When they got there, they heard a man pacing and cursing. The husband went upstairs to try to fix the light, while the wife remained downstairs listening to the unseen man ranting, raving, and swearing.At the exact moment the light came back on, the cursing and pacing abruptly stopped. Maybe Jeremiah was frustrated because he couldn't figure out how to fix the light...
This encounter probably provides the best evidence that this just may be a real haunted lighthouse.
The light was automated in 1965. In 1971, the Gulf Islands National Seashore was created to help preserve the tower, as well as the neighboring Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas. The lighthouse tower and associated buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Until 2007, the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 17 provided tours of the lighthouse, but they were discontinued due to safety concerns.. The facility remains an active aid to navigation, and in many opinions a real haunted lighthouse.
You can read about more real haunted lighthouses at HauntedLightHouses.info.