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St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida, USA - Scary Places Around The World
1101    Dibyendu Banerjee    05/01/2022

Among more than 30 lighthouses along the long coastline of Florida, none is as infamous as haunted, other than the St. Augustine Lighthouse, located on the extreme north point of Anastasia Island, off the northeast Atlantic coast of Florida in the United States. It was built between 1871 and 1874, replacing the original Lighthouse, built in 1824 on the site of an earlier watchtower built by the Spanish during the late 16th century, to keep enemy ships from taking Anastasia Island. But the watchtower lasted only until 1586 before burning down and by 1737, the Spanish constructed a new 30 feet tall watchtower made of shell rock, which according to the available archival documents, was referred to as a lighthouse.

st augustine lighthouse

But facing erosion and a changing coastline, the old lighthouse, equipped with a single lard oil lamp, fuelled by whale oil, was engulfed by the sea by 1870 and crashed into the sea in 1880. The ruins of the old lighthouse lying in shallow water near the coastline, is preserved as a submerged archaeological site.

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Nevertheless, the new tower of the lighthouse, equipped with a new first order Fresnel lens, was completed in 1874 and was lit for the first time in October by keeper William Russell, who also served as the keeper of the first lighthouse.

Standing 165 feet (50.29 m) tall above the sea level, St. Augustine Lighthouse is equipped with 219 steps and 8 landings, offers a breath taking view. After the renovation, its original Fresnel lens, meticulously created of around 370 hand-cut glass prisms, was empowered by a 1000 watt bulb. The Lighthouse was provided with the plumbing facility in 1907, followed by electricity in 1936, which was automated in 1955.

st augustine lighthouse

Although the St. Augustine Lighthouse, along with the surrounding buildings, is the subject of numerous ghost stories and supernatural legendary tales and the museum located in the complex of the St. Augustine Lighthouse also offers tickets for a number of Dark of the Moon ghost tours, there is no credible evidence that the lighthouse is haunted.

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It is also considered that the supposed spooky noises or sounds from the tower were probably created by the seagulls or the wind. However, with its long and intriguing past, it’s not surprising that the lighthouse has earned the notoriety of a haunted place, as many visitors, keepers and other workers, even others who live in the adjacent area, have reported experiencing something inexplicable, enigmatic and just eerie.

st augustine lighthouse

It is said that the first owner of the original lighthouse, Dr Allan Ballard, refused to believe the Lighthouse was on the verge of being swallowed by the sea and vehemently declined a financial offer from the State to leave the lighthouse. He kept his word and his ghost is said to be still seen near the spot where the old lighthouse was located. There is also the story of Peter Rasmussen, one of the first keepers of the lighthouse, known for his meticulous eyes and watchful manner of maintaining the lighthouse and also for his love of cigars. According to the locals, even long after his death, the smell of Peter’s cigar lingered in the atmosphere, smelt by many, including staff members and guests.

st augustine lighthouse
The Pittee Sisters

However, perhaps the most pathetic is the tragic story of the three little girls, whose spirits are believed to be hovering in the lighthouse. They were the unfortunate daughters of Hezekiah Pity, the Superintendent of Lighthouse Construction, who used to live on site with his wife Mary and their children, Mary Adelaide, Eliza, Edward, and Carrie.

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Riding the empty cart that moved the supplies from the docked ships, was a favourite pastime of the Pittee children, who used the cart as a roller coaster, riding the cart to the edge of the water and bringing it back up the site to ride again. On July 10, 1873, when the tiny girls were riding the cart as usual, the cart carrying the girls plunged into the water unbarred, as the wooden board that stopped the cart from going into the water was displaced. An African-American worker, who witnessed the tragic event, raced to the water to find that the girls were trapped underneath the carriage. By the time he lifted the carriage from atop the girls, they were drowned in the wide and wild sea. Since then, strange occurrences have been repeatedly attributed to the spirits of the girls. While Mary, the oldest of the girls, is seen most often decked in a blue velvet dress and matching ribbon in her hair, all the sisters are well known for playing tricks on people. On the stairwell, they are said to pull people that are on their way down back up, pulling their hair and playing with the glow-in-the-dark sticks, which sometimes cause the terrified people to fall down the stairs and get hurt. It is also said that one day, when a lone staff member in the dark Lighthouse tower was closing up for the night, he clearly heard giggling at the top of the tower. As he thought that somebody was on top of the tower, he returned to the top to find it empty. However, he heard the same giggles below him, as he began to head back down the tower, but again found none, when he came down the bottom.

st augustine lighthouse

The lighthouse is the witness of another equally tragic incident that occurred in 1859, when the lighthouse keeper, Joseph Andreu, fell to his death while painting the outside of the lighthouse and it is believed his spirit never left the area and since then a man is often seen, who passes visitors without even giving them a glance. 

The distinctive black-and-white tower of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, topped by a red cap on Anastasia Island and the subject of numerous ghost stories and supernatural legends, has been featured on the television series Ghost Hunters and the program My Ghost Story.

st augustine lighthouse
Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland Borley Rectory in Essex, England
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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