One of the top ten haunted light houses in the US and the only haunted one in Georgia,
the?Saint Simons lighthouse ghost is said to haunt it from a shooting that happened outside the keeper’s house in the 19th century.
The lighthouse was originally a 75 foot tall octagonal shape with a ten foot tall oil-burning lamp on top.? During the American Civil War the Georgia coast was blockaded by Union troops and when they invaded in 1862 the Confederate troops destroyed the lighthouse during their retreat so that the Union ships couldn’t use it for navigating into the bay.
Since ghosts are known to sometimes haunt scenes of battle there may be Confederate and Union soldiers still around the lighthouse even though it was rebuilt into a 104 foot tapering cone shape in 1872.? It is from the current shape of the St. Simons lighthouse that the main haunting legends arise.
Over the years since the death by duel of the lighthouse keeper in 1880 the reports of the lighthouse being haunted has been from many different sources, including even from the US Coastguard troops assigned to maintain the lighthouse since 1939.
Here is the story behind the main haunting of the lighthouse from the main lighthouse keeper, Frederick Osborne, whose job it was to maintain the? Fresnel reflective lens which was lit by kerosene atop the lighthouse from 1874 until his decidedly untimely death in 1880:
In these days of automated electric lighthouses, it is hard to imagine, much less witness first-hand, what the job of lighthouse keeper used to be like.
The huge Fresnel lenses had to be kept clean and polished, the mechanisms used to make the lenses turn were complicated and took a lot of maintenance, and the whole thing was lit with smelly kerosene.? Just to show how old the St Simons lighthouse is, before the lenses were lit with kerosene they were originally lit with whale oil, which eventually became too expensive.
Of course the most important work of a lighthouse keeper was at night – the light must be kept shining through the dark to guide ships and keep them from running aground or becoming shipwrecked, and this was most important during storms.? To maintain the St. Simons light house, the keeper or assistant keeper had to walk up a winding iron staircase of 129 steps to bring more kerosene or maintain the lenses or mechanics of the lighthouse.
So the job of Saint Simons lighthouse keeper was a demanding and exacting one, and from all accounts Frederick Osborne was a demanding and exacting person, sometimes to extremes.? It is hard to get straight what the argument was about, but from all I could gather, in early March1880 Osborne had a serious disagreement with his assistant lighthouse keeper Stephens, which led to them fighting a duel.
For the duel, at a distance of about thirty paces, Osborne turned and faced Stephens – Osborne armed with a pistol and Stephens armed with a shotgun.? Any betting man would have, all things else being equal between them, put their money on the man with the shotgun, and so it was -Osborne was shot dead in the duel.
The death of lighthouse keeper Frederick Osborne was the start of the haunting legends for the Georgia lighthouse.
Frederick Osborne, being so suddenly and permanently removed from his important lighthouse duties, is said to haunt by continuing his lighthouse duties in the spirit world
– people say you can hear him trudging up and down the 129 iron steps, and what’s more, his footsteps are accompanied with the ghosts’ telltale smell of kerosene.
Lighthouse keeper Carl Svendsen, who was Saint Simons lighthouse keeper from 1907 to 1935, was said to have several encounters with the ghostly presence.? He and his wife had a dog named Jinx (appropriately named!) who was particularly attuned to the haunting and would growl and bristle at odd times, especially when there was sounds on the stairs at night.
The most famous of those occurrences was one evening when, as usual, Mrs. Svendsen was putting supper on the table because she could hear her husband coming down the stairs.? The door opened but all that came through was a cold draft of air, and Jinks backed up and growled.? Mrs. Sevendsen immediately ran up the stairs (brave woman!), found her husband still working at the top of the lighthouse, and told her husband what had just happened!
So now you know a little about one of the most famous of the ghosts of? St Simons – the Saint Simons lighthouse ghost.
Taking a tour of the lighthouse is one of the many fun things you can do while you are staying in our beach house at Saint Simons island, and the beautiful two story keepers house (where Stephens and Osborne and the Svendsens lived!) is part of the tour – who knows – maybe you’ll experience the Saint Simons lighthouse ghost!.