The St Augustine Lighthouse is said to be one of the most haunted places in Florida, many people believe that the lamp not only shines for the living, but it also attracts the dead.
St Augustine in Florida is considered to be the oldest city in the whole of America, the whole area is steeped in history, boasting dominating fortresses, and even an archaeological park that claims to be the original location of Ponce de Leon's very own fountain of youth. With such history surrounding St Augustine, it comes as no surprise that over the years it has been home to some dark stories, brutal deaths, and fearsome battles.
The History Of St Augustine Lighthouse
St Augustine Lighthouse has a long history, dating back to 1589, when ancient maps detailed the raid of Sir Francis Drake off the coast. Even then, on Anastasia Island, was the mention of the lighthouse standing as a wooden watchtower.
The watchtower was originally built to support the nearby Castillo de Marcos, and its ownership passed through the hands of many conquerors over the years who changed and altered its design numerous times.
Over time the epic structure has witnessed some brutal battles and disasters. In 1973 the HMS Industry ship sank and went down with all of the grindstones, iron, and axes that Britain had sent over to use in building the new American colonies.
On one stormy New Year's Eve, 16 ships had wrecked nearby, the ships were fleeing following the aftermath of the American's victory in the Revolutionary War.
The lighthouse is also steeped with local legend and tales of pirate invaders, murdering thieves and even that of a Spanish ship captain who cut off the ear of a man he believed was a smuggler.
The St Augustine Lighthouse as it is seen today was built following the fall of the South in the Civil War, as time passed by the state started to develop concerns over it, they questioned whether its position was the most strategic for its use, and also questioned if the lighthouse had previously undergone too much remodeling and even feared that it may fall into the ocean.
In 1874, funding was granted to build a new lighthouse that was next to the site of the original tower. The new tower would soon witness its own share of woes though, one example being the World War ll era, which saw the coast rife with German U-Boats.
The lighthouse in St Augustine is one of the tallest lighthouses in the whole of the United States, it stands at a huge one hundred and sixty-five feet above sea level and requires a steep trek up two hundred and nineteen steps to reach the observation deck that looks out into the depths of the ocean and the ancient city of St Augustine.
Given the extremely violent and often tragic past of the St Augustine Lighthouse, it hardly comes as a surprise that many a restless spirit are still believed to call this place home.
The Ghosts of St Augustine Lighthouse
Peter Rasmussen, previous lighthouse keeper:
One of the most frequent reports of ghosts within the St Augustine Lighthouse is believed to be that of a previous keeper by the name of Peter Rasmussen.
He was known and revered for his love of the lighthouse and would always keep a close watch over the tower, he was also said to be a lover of the finer things in life. He ensured that the keeper's house was fitted with the best closets, bathtubs, and lavatories, but his biggest love was that of a good cigar.
Countless visitors to the St Augustine lighthouse have reported an unmistakable smell of cigar smoke flooding through the tower, if you speak to the locals, they will tell you without question that this is just Peter Rasmussen, still keeping watch over his beloved lighthouse.
Joseph Andreu, another previous lighthouse keeper:
For decades both locals and visitors alike have reported hearing deathly screams coming from the St Augustine lighthouse, in both the daytime and nighttime, these screams have even previously led to authorities being called due to the fear that someone had been injured.
However, many people attest to the sounds of these chilling screams to be that of another previous lighthouse keeper, Joseph Andreu. During some paint repair work to the St Augustine lighthouse, a scaffold was fitted ready for the work to be carried out. It is said that Joseph Andreu was looking out into the distance when the scaffolding failed and he plummeted all the way down to his sudden and tragic death, his screams were reported to have been heard from those who lived close by.
The Pittee Girl's and their tragic death:
The most famous ghost story from the St Augustine Lighthouse is also the most tragic. Hezekiah Pittee, moved from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, to oversee the construction of the new St Augustine Lighthouse, he brought with him his wife Mary and their children, Mary Adelaide, Eliza, Edward, and Carrie. The Pittee children quickly turned the construction site into their very own playground along with the children of the other workers on the site.
By 1873, the foundation and forty-two feet of the tower were completed, the construction team used a railway cart to move supplies from ships that would dock at Salt Run back up to the building site.
The Pittee children would frequently ride the cart down to the water, using the cart almost like a rollercoaster, worryingly though there was only a wooden board at the end of the rail that stopped the cart from falling over the edge into the water.
On 10 July, 1873, the three Pittee sisters, Mary (15), Eliza (13), and Carrie (4) as well as an unknown African-American girl (10), whose father worked on the building site, set off riding the cart as they had done dozens of times before.
The wooden board that prevented the cart from falling into the water had not been put into place, the cart, with the girls inside, flipped over and went straight into the water, trapping the terrified girls underneath.
A young African-American worker watched the terrible event take place and rushed to the water, he struggled but finally managed to lift the cart from on top of the girls, tragically though by this time three of the four of them had already drowned. The only one to survive was Carrie, the youngest.
In the days that proceeded that awful day, the building site and the town shut down for the funeral of the young girls. After the funeral, the Pittee family returned to Maine to bury their children in their hometown. No one has managed to locate the final resting place of the young African-American girl who was also killed.
Eye witness reports of the Ghost's of St Augustine Lighthouse
In the almost 150 years since the tragic accident of the Pittee girls, there has been a constant flow of reports of strange and paranormal occurrences happening to visitors of the St Augustine Lighthouse. Here are some of them, you can make your own mind up as to whether they are fact, fiction, or just a plain mystery.
James Pippin and his relief lighthouse keeper:
In the 1950s a relief lighthouse keeper who was living in the home reported hearing footsteps upstairs, after going to investigate, the sound of footsteps continued, but no one was there. At the time the Head Keeper was a man by the name of James Pippin, he served from 1953-1955 and was the last Keeper to live at the Light Station. Pippen lived in the Keepers House to start with, just as all the other previous keepers before him had done, however, he requested that he was moved to the much smaller, 1941 Coastal Lookout Building, stating that the "big house was haunted and he would not stay another night in it."
The local leather crafter:
In 1955, the lighthouse lamp became fully automated and the previous Lighthouse Keepers position was now redundant, with a new role of "Lamplighter" starting. This resulted in the newly appointed Lamplighter not having to live on-site, meaning the Keepers House was to be rented out. It was rented by a local man who crafted leather goods during the 1960s, he told the tale of waking up in the middle of the night to a small girl standing next to his bed, staring straight at him, as he blinked his eyes to focus on her, she vanished.
The mysterious fire:
In 1970, after it had been empty for many years, the old Keepers house burned down under what was described as "mysterious circumstances", completely destroying it, leaving only a few charred timbers and the coquina basement. A volunteer group raised the funds to restore and renovate the Keepers House, Lighthouse tower, and the original, Fresnel lens back to its former glory. During the renovation work, both the volunteers as well as the construction workers reported numerous unexplained incidents in the home, mainly in the basement, which was the only part of the home that had not been completely destroyed in the fire, even today this is the place that most people report an eerie feeling of something, or someone watching them whilst visiting.
The Shoelace Incident:
A woman who was attending a tour group visit around the St Augustine Lighthouse was standing on the first step of the lighthouse staircase when she attempted to move up onto the next metal step before noticing that her shoelace had been tied to the staircase, although we cannot say for sure, the woman in question and her tour group have sworn that it was none of them playing tricks.
The sound of giggling girls:
One night in the Lighthouse tower, a lone member of staff who was tasked with locking up for the night reported hearing the sound of giggling coming from the top of the tower. Worried he had left someone up there he quickly ascended the staircase, just to find that it was empty and no one was there. When he started to descend back down he said how he heard the same giggles, however, this time they came from below him. When he got down to the bottom, again, no one was there.
There are literally hundreds of reports from people claiming to have experienced paranormal activity whilst at the St Augustine Lighthouse, visitors, mediums and paranormal experts have all reported that they believe this place is extremely active with spirits, not only of the Pittee girls but of many different ghosts. We hope you enjoyed the story of the St Augustine Lighthouse and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, and if you have ever visited, we would love for you to get in touch! Now you have read about the ghosts of St Augustines Lighthouse, make sure you check out the story of the Ancient Ram Inn, the UK's most haunted building.