The St. Augustine Lighthouse
Made of Alabama brick and Philadelphia iron, the St. Augustine Lighthouse has stood stoically on the shoreline of Anastasia Island as a beacon to maritime pilots since 1874.
By JP Chartier
The tower rises to a height of 165 ft. and it takes 219 steps to reach the top, but trust me, the views of St. Augustine and the Intracoastal Waterway from up there make the workout worth it. Huffing and puffing a bit after my stair master journey up, I was greeted by a most wonderful breeze as I emerged from inside the tower out onto the deck.
The current lighthouse took three years to complete and replaced an earlier one that succumbed to beach erosion in 1880. Records show that there has been some sort of lighthouse or beacon on or near St. Augustine since the 1600’s.
SPOOKY STUFF HAPPENS HERE
The lighthouse and surrounding area is said to be very haunted, and many people have reported strange things occurring while on the property. The SyFy show ‘Ghost Hunters’ went there on two different occasions and recorded some ‘paranormal stuff’ including a voice saying “help me.” They concluded that the lighthouse and the light-keeper’s house are indeed very haunted, causing one of the staff to say that this place was “The Mona Lisa of paranormal sites.”
I don’t know if you buy into the whole ‘paranormal activity’ thing or not, I generally don’t, but you have to admit that it makes for a much more interesting visit. I entered the tower with ears pricked and eyes on the ready, darting from this thing to that, hoping to catch a glimpse of a foggy apparition of a spooky little girl or something. Camera snuggly in hand with my finger on the button I dared a ghost to show itself!
What was that? Snap, snap, snap goes my camera…
The ghosts of two small children are reportedly seen on the grounds of the lighthouse with some regularity by staff as well as visitors. The two girls are thought to be the girls who were killed on the grounds of the lighthouse during its construction.
The story goes…
It was 1873 and the lighthouse was still under construction, the superintendent of the job, Hezekiah Pittee, had his family down from Boston with him, which included his five children and his wife. There was a wooden cart at the jobsite that sat atop of make-shift tracking that was used to move materials from the ships at the shoreline to the lighthouse up on land. The cart not only worked well at getting materials moved to the site, it also made for an incredibly fun ride for the bored kids of the area, including Hezekiah’s.
It was July 10, 1873 and the kids were out playing in the cart, riding it back and forth on the tracks. On one trip down to the water, the cart malfunctioned and ended up throwing all five kids in the cart into the water. Two of the kids were rescued, but unfortunately three of them drowned, one neighborhood kid and two of Hezekiah’s children. They are said to haunt the lighthouse and the grounds to this day.
Okay, unfortunately my visit to the lighthouse didn’t include any ghosts or paranormal activity, but it was still a real cool place to explore! There is a ghost tour of the lighthouse called the “Dark of the Moon Tour” that is real popular, and the cost is $24.95 and it takes place at night.
A TOUR OF THE LIGHTHOUSE
THE KEEPER’S HOUSE
There are several other tours you can take if ghosts aren’t your thing:
- General Admission (lighthouse, grounds & Keeper’s House) – $9.95
- Seniors/Children under 12 – $7.95
- Lost Ships Archaeology Tour (includes admission) – $19.95
- Sunset/Moonrise Tour – $25.00
- Behind the Scenes/General Admission – $14.95
- General Admission/T-Shirt Value Pack – $19.95
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum are open daily from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed Thanksgiving Day/Christmas Day)
Hi my name is JP Chartier and I write for Gutter Pup Adventures.com where you can expect to read well-written and entertaining articles about the people and places that often get overlooked at many popular vacation destinations around the world. You will also find articles on camping, hiking, kayaking and several other popular vacation activities here too.
My goal is to seek out the hidden ‘gems’ for you and bring them alive through my writing and photographs, so your next trip or vacation will be a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience.
I like the lighthouse at Ponce inlet even better. Just an hour south, all brick, well maintained and the site of the shipwreck that prompted Stephen Crane to write his oconic story, “The Open Boat”
I haven’t heard of this one, have to check it out, thanks for the insight Chuck.
awesome photos…i especially love the ones of the stairs. makes me feel like i have been there JP thanks!
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Many thanks Mike!
Another great write J.P.!! I have to check it out when I finally move down to Florida!!
Thanks Paulo! The lighthouse is a must-see when visiting St. Augustine, you can hit the Alligator Farm (down the street) then head over to the lighthouse for the second part of your day.
its been years since ive been in a lighthouse – how awesome is that place?
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It’s awesome Andrew!