Seguin Island Lighthouse is the Most Haunted Beacon in Maine
Seguin Island Lighthouse is Maine’s second oldest lighthouse, built in 1796, and the highest lighthouse in the state, at 186 feet above sea level. In 1857, the tower was rebuilt and because of the heavy shipping in the area, a first-order Fresnel lens, the most powerful light, was installed in the lantern, which still resides in the tower today. It remains the only operational first order Fresnel lens north of Rhode Island. The beacon is one of the most fogged-in lighthouses in New England, and has one of the largest foghorns to accommodate the nearly 30% of foggy days each year that blanket the island. The beacon is also famous for lots of paranormal activity witnessed by many keepers, tourists, and mariners alike, and is considered the most haunted lighthouse in Maine, and arguably in New England.
The Old Captain
Seguin Island Light’s first keeper was Major (Count) John Polereczky, who was a Count of Hungarian nobility, going back many generations. He was born in France, and fought with French troops during the American revolution. He settled in Dresden, Maine, and was their town clerk for 25 years until he applied for and was granted a position as keeper of Sequin Island light in 1898. His meager salary was unfit for living off the island in such harsh conditions due to its remote exposed location, and he constantly requested increases in his salary, but was always denied. His brother in law, Christopher Pushard, served as his assistant with him, and initially brought his wife for a brief period on the island, where they had their first child Jane there, although Pushard didn’t bring his family to stay, as relations were strained between the two men.
After serving for eight years, in 1804, Polereczky died penniless on the island. For many years afterwards, some say his ghost has haunted the keepers who came after him. There have been sightings of a ghost who has been named the “Old Captain” climbing the staircase of the tower.
One incident occurred after the lighthouse was automated in 1985, where the supervisor in charge of the crew to move the furniture, reported months later that the “Old Captain” ghost awoke him in the middle of the night, dressed in oilskins and shaking his bed. The entity asked him not to take the furniture away and to leave his home alone. Convinced he was simply in a deep dream, the supervisor decided not to oblige the captain’s ghost, and to move the furniture anyways as he and his crew were paid to complete. The next day all the furniture had been successfully loaded onto a boat, which was being lowered into the water. All of a sudden the cable mysteriously snapped, causing the boat and all its contents to spill onto the rocks below smashing everything into pieces.
Over the more recent years, many responsible volunteer caretakers who sign on to help with the upkeep of the lighthouse for summer tourists to visit, have reported various sightings and strange paranormal events. Items have been moved around inside the house, or have been observed being tossed from shelves onto the floor, mysterious cold spots, tools disappearing and reappearing at random, and doors have been observed opening and closing. If furniture is moved by the caretakers, it is sometimes restored back to its original spot the following day. Some have reported hearing coughing from an unseen source. Many people believe these events are of the “Old Captain.”
The Young Girl
It has been reported that a young girl died on the island and her parents buried her near the generator house, or somewhere close to the property between the lighthouse and the fog horn. She has been witnessed by many running playfully around the gardens, laughing, smiling, and sometimes coughing as if she has an illness. She’s not only been witnessed by visitors to the Seguin Island, but by previous keepers who’ve called the lighthouse their home, and has been witnessed to also be running up and down the stairs, waving to her onlookers.
Piano Playing Caused the Keeper’s Insanity
This story is actually one of legend, and has been very difficult to find actual documentation. It is perhaps the most tragic incident that occurred on Seguin Island.
According to the legend, around the mid-1800s, a caretaker or keeper of the beacon, newly married, brought his young wife out with him to tend the light. Not used to the isolation on the island, she became increasingly bored and depressed, constantly complaining about not having anything to do. Thinking it would occupy her, and keep her mind off the boredom, the keeper ordered a piano to be brought to the island just before winter set in. After numerous attempts of trying to get the piano up the side of the rocky ledge, and carefully hauling the piano to the keeper’s house with many friends, he proudly presented it to her.
His wife was delighted, but could not play without sheet music. Fortunately, only one song had come with the piano, so she set to playing it. It was a simple Scot Joplin tune. Soon afterwards, the island was icebound; no other deliveries could come in. She continually played her piano, with the same song, over and over and over again.
The isolation and constant playing of the same tune over countless hours and days eventually drove the keeper insane. Finally, he had enough, took an axe and chopped the piano to bits. When she bitterly complained, he turned on her and attacked her, chopping her up with the axe. Realizing the ghoulish action he just completed, he killed himself.
It’s said, on the Kennebec River during foggy nights, you can hear the ghost of the lighthouse keeper’s wife playing the same ghostly tune on her phantom piano out over the waves on those still, calm evenings. Many mariners and former keepers to have claimed to have had some piano tune playing over the waters.
Exploring Seguin Island and the Popham Beach Area
Seguin Island is a little over two miles offshore from the mouth of the Kennebec River, near Fort Popham & Popham Beach State Park. Fort Popham State Historic Site is part of Popham Beach within the state park. The beach is a few miles long with a long crescent curve. During low tide on a clear day visitors can hike up one of the hills from the sea and get a closer view of Seguin Island Light and nearby Pond Island Light.
The lighthouse grounds and museum are open to the public, and lighthouse tours are provided during the summer months. The Fish ‘N Trips boat, also referred to as the Seguin Island Ferry provides daily 30-minute service during the summer season to Seguin Island. There are plenty of areas to hike on this small island and some great views. It is a good medium hike to the lighthouse itself to reach the top of the hill, as the beacon is situated 186 feet above sea level. Wear appropriate clothing, as you may have to jump out of the boat in knee high waters and surf.
For tours around the island to obtain a waterside view of Sequin Island from a distance, visitors can take various tours out of Bath using the Maine Maritime Museum, or River Run Tours, and from Boothbay Harbor with Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips or for a more private experience using Hay-Val Charters.
Stay Overnight at or Near Seguin Island Light
Guests would need to take the ferry Fish ‘N Trips/Seguin Island Ferry to access the island and hike up a steep hill to the lighthouse. There are overnight rustic accommodations available for members of the Friends of Seguin Island, located in the other half of the keeper’s house. Special membership ($250) entitles guests to spend a night in the guest quarters. By making an additional donation, up to five guests can spend the night in this historical Maine beacon. The open dates are from mid-June to Labor Day. The guest quarters offer two upstairs bedrooms (downstairs is the museum and gift shop); one bedroom has two twin beds; the other has one twin and one double bed. There are minimal amenities available and cooking is limited to using the charcoal grill that is provided outside. There is a private bath on the second floor with hot and cold running water, a composting toilet and a shower, or use the outhouse. Sheets, blankets and pillows are provided.
Camping is also allowed (no amenities) on the island as well for those interested in an overnight stay. Tents are allowed in a small designated picnic area off the Cove Trail path, and a suggested minimum donation for renting the campsite is $10 per person per night.
Contact the Friends of Seguin Island Light Station
Enjoy your summer, and visit this most historic and haunted beacon,
My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions you can explore. These include whale watching excursions, lighthouse tours, windjammer sailing tours and adventures, special parks and museums, and lighthouses you can stay overnight. You’ll also find plenty of stories of haunted lighthouses. Lighthouses and their nearby attractions are divided into regions for all you weekly and weekend explorers.
New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues, and Other Tales. Lots of detailed stories of famous incidents and folklore that occurred near the beacons of the New England coast. The book also contains, along with my photographs, vintage images provided by the Coast Guard and various organizations, and paintings by six famous artists of the Coast Guard.
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