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Pensacola's Haunted Lighthouse
The famous English Playwright William Shakespeare once penned the immortal words, “To be, or not to be? That is the question.” He was hardly referring to ghostly beings, but do they be, or not? Most people have experienced some paranormal activity, or know someone who claims they did. And many places, usually old, dark and foreboding locations, are said to be. Out of all places said to be inhabited by spectral beings, long standing lighthouses seems to be the most haunted.
One of the most famous is the Pensacola Lighthouse located on the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida, still in use. Completed in 1858, it is the oldest lighthouse on the Gulf Coast. Since 1931 there have been countless stories of the supernatural occurring there. The 171 foot high tower has survived cannon strikes during the Civil War and was occupied by Confederate troops whom were thought to have used it as a lookout to observe the enemy.
The strange occurrences said to take place there range from sounds of heavy breathing, doors slamming and faint whispers to the sight of an old woman in white walking around the catwalk. Many claim lighthouse keepers from years past still roam the grounds. Emmitt Hatten tells some interesting tales of his childhood days when he lived there. He and his parents made the keeper's quarters their home from 1931 to 1953.
Part of Emmitt’s daily chores was to tend the lens. He tells of a time he was doing that and heard someone breathing. That would have been alright…had there been someone else there with him.
Once when he was 10, Hatten related, he and his mother heard footsteps on the stair case. His was sent to see who was there. When he called out to whoever was there no one answered. As he listened intently the sound of footsteps continued and then he heard someone open and close the front door. He hurried to the second floor balcony and looked out. He didn’t see anyone, but the front gate opened and closed by itself as if some invisible entity had just left.
Another interesting tale is the story of a former keeper, Jeremiah Ingraham, being murdered by his wife, Michaela, after a bitter argument. Some say it happened in the keeper's quarters, others say it was in the tower. What appears to be a blood stain that can’t be removed, no matter how hard the spot is scrubbed, is still visible on the floor where the man died.
The story has it she was haunted by her murdered husband thereafter until her death in 1855. She heard his laughter in empty rooms and saw his shadows in the upper windows, although the entrance to the tower was locked. It was also said she often smelled his pipe and occasionally felt cold drafts of air. The official record states Jeremiah took ill and died.
Then there was the time in 1994 when a sightseer took his two children on a tour of the lighthouse. While waiting their turn to ascend the staircase, the man's son kept telling his father he wanted to see the ghost. He explained ghosts can’t be seen, they might move something or you can hear them, but you can’t see them.
But the young boy ignored his father’s explanation and continued insisting he wanted to see the ghost. When it was their turn they climbed the stairs and enjoyed the view. On the way down the boy told his sister to stop whispering in his ear. Upon reaching the bottom the boy realized she hadn’t. He then told his father someone had whispered his name in his ear.
Since the lighthouse had been poorly constructed it was rebuilt in 1859. Apparently, that upset Michaela because from that time on, visitors have reported objects being hurled at them when they enter the keeper's quarters. One of the men working on the tower even reported having a water hose jerked from his grasp.
Ghost hunting groups and other paranormal investigators have also reported smelling tobacco from Jeremiah’s pipe. It was assumed to be his since there were no other smokers present. It’s believed in addition to Jeremiah, there are two other ghostly keepers on the premises, but no one knows who they might be.
The lighthouse is open for tours from June through October.