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10 of the loneliest neglected lighthouses around the world

Neil Patrick

10.Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, Canada

The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was built in 1808 on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Canada. It stands 82 feet high (originally 52 feet, but another 30 were added in 1832), and is one of Toronto’s oldest buildings and the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes.

During its time, the lighthouse has had six lighthouse keepers.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Canada.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Canada.Photo Credit

The lighthouse is probably best known for the murder of its first keeper, German-born John Paul Radelmuller, on January 2, 1815. His murder started the story of the lighthouse being haunted. The soldiers that were originally charged with his murder were later acquitted of the crime. The ghost story continues to be told to this day.

9.Execution Rocks Lighthouse, New York

Execution Rocks Lighthouse in Long Island Sound.                                                                                                                                                                                              Execution Rocks Lighthouse in Long Island Sound. Photo Credit

The Execution Rocks Lighthouse went into active service in 1850, after taking one year longer than promised to be completed. It sits in the middle of the Long Island Sound in New York, between New Rochelle and Sands Point. Its focal plane is 62 feet high, with a white light that flashes every ten seconds. There is an attached keeper’s house made of stone but it has not been inhabited since 1979, when the lighthouse became automated. The island got its name from the dangerous shipping area created by the rocks’ exposure during low tides. The United States Congress appropriated $25,000 for the creation of the lighthouse on March 3, 1847. The lighthouse has survived both a fire and a shipwreck.

The island is under the authority of the United States Coast Guard and is off limits to the public. The public can view it during the Long Island Lighthouse Society’s Spring Cold Coast Cruise. Serial killer Carl Panzram claimed that he raped and murdered a total of 10 sailors and dumped their bodies into the sea near Execution Rocks Lighthouse.

8.Lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos, Portugal

 Farol da Ponta dos Capelinhos

Farol da Ponta dos Capelinhos. Photo Credit

The Lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos (Portuguese: Farol da Ponta dos Capelinhos) was built to mark the western tip of Faial. On September 16, 1957, a volcano erupted and engulfed the lighthouse with volcanic ash. Today, the ash still surrounds the first floor of the lighthouse. The lighthouse has been inactive since. In 2005, the Azores government announced plans to open a visitor center and museum for the lighthouse. The visitor center opened in 2008 and is open daily all year round. The tower is open to guided tours.

7.St. George Reef Light, California

St. George Reef Lighthouse

St. George Reef Lighthouse

This lighthouse was built on North West Seal Rock, which is six miles off the coast of Crescent City, California. The final cost of building the lighthouse was $721,000. The lighthouse was activated on December 1, 1891, but not lit until October 20, 1892. It stands 144 feet above the waterline.

It was deactivated in 1975 for the first time. It was reactivated on October 20, 2002, on the 110th anniversary of the first lighting. It was once again deactivated shortly after due to a lighting malfunction but was reactivated on March 10, 2012.

6.Flannan Isles Lighthouse, Scotland

Flannan Island Lighthouse Carpets of Sea Campion in the foreground. Photo Credit

Flannan Island Lighthouse Carpets of Sea Campion in the foreground. Photo Credit

The Flannan Isles Lighthouse is close to the highest point of Eilean Mor, off the west coast of Scotland. It stands 75 feet tall and was constructed between 1895 and 1899. It was first lit on December 7, 1899. The lighthouse is best known for the mysterious disappearances of three keepers in 1900. David Alan Stevenson designed this lighthouse and construction was done by George Lawson of Rutherglen. All the materials used for construction had to be hauled up the 148-foot cliffs straight from the supply boats. It was no easy task with the ever-changing Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse was automated on September 28, 1971.

5.Great Isaac Cay, Bahamas

Opened in 1859, the lighthouse stands 151 feet tall. There are claims that on the full moon, you can hear unusual sounds on the small island. In the late 19th century, local lore tells of a shipwreck; the only survivor was an infant.

Supposedly the child’s distraught mother, known as the Grey Lady, is said to haunt the island, wailing in sorrow during the full moon.

Great Isaac Cay Lighthouse

Great Isaac Cay Lighthouse. Photo Credit

On August 4, 1969, it was discovered that the lighthouse was abandoned by its two keepers. They have never been found. Believers in the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle claim that both keepers were victims lost to the mysterious forces. Hurricane Anna passed close by the island in August and maybe had something to do with the missing men.

The lighthouse is off limits to visitors, but the grounds are open for exploring. The keepers’ house, the cistern, and the other assorted buildings are crumbling into ruins. These buildings serve as a popular destination for boaters.

4.Tillamook Rock Light, Oregon

Tillamook Rock Light

Tillamook Rock Light

This lighthouse was commissioned by the United States Congress in 1878 and construction began in 1880. Construction took around 16 months to complete and was finished in January of 1881. It is located approximately 1.2 miles off the coast of Tillamook Head, Oregon. It was officially lit on January 21, 1881. At that time, it was the most expensive West Coast lighthouse ever built, costing a total of $123,492. The lighthouse was nicknamed “Terrible Tilly”. It was decommissioned in 1957 and was later sold to private owners. After being owned by a few different people, the lighthouse was purchased in 1980 by Mimi Morissette and Cathey Riley, backed by several investors.

They gutted the building and turned it into the Eternity at Sea Columbarium, a place where for a fee you could have your loved one’s ashes placed in one of the rooms. The fee for such a thing ranged from $1,000 in the derrick room to $5,000 for a prime spot in the lantern room. In 1999, the owners lost their license to operate due to a late renewal of the building’s license. In 2005, they were rejected for renewal due to lack of record keeping and inappropriate storage of urns. The owners still plan to raise money construct niches in titanium for up to 300,000 urns. To date, only 30 urns are in the lighthouse, and it is claimed that two were stolen in 1991.

3.Point of Ayr, Talacre, Wales

Point of Ayr

Point of Ayr

The Point of Ayr is a lighthouse but also the name of the island it sits on. It was constructed in 1776 and has been inactive since 1883. It sits on Talacre beach at the entrance to the River Dee Estuary. At one time, the lighthouse had two lights. The main light, at 63 feet high, was set seaward towards Llandudno. The second light shone up the River Dee towards the hamlet of Dawpool, in Cheshire. There is a supposed history of paranormal activity around the Talacre Lighthouse. One incident noted was a sighting of a person in ancient worn clothing standing on the balcony and a couple claimed there were footprints in the sand where there shouldn’t have been any. Psychics that have visited the island have reported communing with a spirit named Raymond, who was once a lighthouse keeper that died of a fever.

2.Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Denmark

Lighthouse Rubjerg Knude, Denmark,

Lighthouse Rubjerg Knude, Denmark, Photo Credit

This lighthouse was constructed in 1899 and went active on December 27, 1900. It is 200 feet above sea level. Until 1908, it operated on gas which it produced from a gasworks on the site.

The coast has eroded on average 4.9 feet per year. The lighthouse can best be seen from the Marup Church. It was built around 1250 but dismantled in 2008 to keep it from falling into the sea.

The lighthouse went inactive on August 1, 1968. For several years, the building was used as a museum and coffee shop, but due to the ever-eroding sands they were abandoned in 2002. By 2009, the small buildings were so severely damaged due to the pressure of the sand that they had to be removed. It is said that the lighthouse is expected to fall into the sea by 2023.

1.Point Lookout Lighthouse, Maryland

Point Lookout Light Photo Credit

Point Lookout Light Photo Credit

Four thousand dollars was allocated to purchase the land and build the Point Lookout Lighthouse. It sits at the mouth of the Potomac River, south of the town of Scotland, Maryland. During the US Civil War, a general hospital was built on land next to the lighthouse to help tend to wounded Union soldiers. It also housed prisoners when needed. After the Battle of Gettysburg, the North built prison camps on the land to hold detainees.

Here is another story from us: Hook Lighthouse: The oldest operating lighthouse in Ireland

In 1863, the camps held over 4,000 prisoners and the following year the influx increased that number to over 20,000. In 2006, a former resident of the house founded the Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society to help raise funds to maintain the property as well as open it up to visitors. Occasional daytime open houses are granted as well as nighttime “Paranormal Investigations”.