Hauntings at Boon Island Lighthouse in Maine: Lighthouse Bride Goes Insane Over Husband’s Death
This story is one that has gone into folklore and legend at Boon Island lighthouse, in Maine, as proper documentation from the mid-1800’s regarding this incident is not available. This tragic story reminds us of the physical and emotional danger of living on a remote lighthouse for many lighthouse keepers and their wives. The position can sound exciting in the 1800’s to many a young bride of a keeper, but can become a place of emotional stress, miles away from the mainland. There are stories of many keepers who died in their positions from tragic accidents or sickness from the deplorable conditions they were placed under. Sometimes their records of duty served were lost, or may have been removed from a short duration of service. This is one of those stories, which has become part of Maine folklore as the keeper mentioned in this blog is not found in any records I could find, but there are many who believe its authenticity, including those that witnessed specific events that occurred long after he and his wife’s death.
Boon Island light sits atop a tiny, barren island of rock, measuring 400 square yards, and rises to only 14 feet above sea level at its highest point. The lighthouse is the tallest beacon in New England. The rocky shoal measures roughly 700 x 300 feet, with most of it lies underwater at high tide. It’s located about 6 miles from the town of York, Maine, shoreline and was the sight of many shipwrecks over the years, and there have been many sightings of a female ghost at Boon Island. Most believe it is the distraught wife of a former Keeper Lucas Bright, who had gone insane after the keeper had drowned on Boon Island during a gale storm.
Sometime in the mid 1800s, First Assistant Lucas Bright arrived at Boon Island Lighthouse with his new bride Katherine. Four months after they arrived on the tiny barren rock, gale force winds from a severe December nor’easter storm were blowing across the tiny island, sending huge waves over the rocky island.
Lucus Bright was feeling ill from the past week and physically exhausted, but felt the need to check the tower and make sure the lantern was lit for any mariners stuck in the storm, so they may find safety near the shore. He tied a rope to his waist and kissed his wife as he left the warm house, into the biting winds and spray, towards the tower. The waves were breaking all around him coating the rocks in sheets of ice as he tried to secure a bolt to the door in the tower. All of a sudden a huge rogue wave swept over the rocks and covered the keeper. He lost his grasp, slipped on the icy rocks into the freezing waters, and drowned.
Katherine saw the accident in horror and managed to grab and hold onto the rope tied to her husband to keep him from drifting away. She went out into the storm and somehow managed to pull her husband’s body ashore, then proceeded to drag it over the ice covered rocks into the lighthouse tower, leaving his body at the foot of the stairs. Overcome with grief and shock, she sat with her husband and held his hand for as long as she could bear.
The storm continued and Katherine knew she had to tend the light so that others may not find the same fate as her beloved. For five days and nights during this seemingly endless storm, Katherine, stricken with grief, took over all the lighthouse duties. She ate what little food was left and slept little. Each day she climbed the tower’s 168 stairs to the lantern room, in freezing temperatures, and lit the lamp to protect any mariners or fishermen still out during the storm. She would then stay near her husband’s frozen corpse, sometimes holding his hand or hugging him, talking to him as if to comfort her.
On the sixth day when the storm had finally passed over, Katherine had nearly run out of fuel, and was too exhausted and tormented to light the lighthouse, causing the light to cease.
Once the light had gone out, and with the seas calming, fishermen from York went out to the lighthouse to investigate. They found no one in the house and went out to the tower. The tower’s temperature had fallen to a freezing ten degrees below zero. There they found Katherine Bright, freezing from exposure, and driven mad by grief and exhaustion. She was sitting on the bottom of the stairs holding the frozen corpse of her husband. The fishermen were able to bring Katherine and her husband’s corpse ashore, but by that time she’d completely lost her mind. She died a short time later after being rescued.
Over the years afterwards, many mariners and keepers have laid claim to have seen a ghostly figure of a young sad faced woman shrouded in white on the rocks at dusk. At times, sounds of moans and screeches were also claimed to have also been heard. Many years after the incident, on some nights, keepers at the lighthouse claimed they would hear knocking on the door, and as they open the door, they would see a faint apparition of a woman dressed in white heading to the tower. Sometimes a keeper would bring their cat or dog to the Boon Island, but most of these animals would refuse to go in the lighthouse tower. Some dogs have been witnessed to be chasing something around the rocks barking constantly as if to give warning.
One Coast Guard Keeper, in the early 1970’s, became a believer of the ghost stories when he and a fellow crewman were off the tiny rock island fishing, and drifted too far out to make it back in time to turn the light on before dark. There wasn’t a person on the island, but somehow the light was glowing brightly by the time the keepers returned. He also claimed to have heard doors mysteriously opening and closing. When he would go to turn on the fog signal, he felt as if “someone was watching.”
Another former Coast Guard Keeper, Dave Wells, reported that one time the station’s Labrador retriever chased “something from one end of the island to the other and back again.” He couldn’t see what the dog was chasing, and later stated, “we figured the island must be haunted, but nothing ever bothered us.” Many mariners and locals believe it is Katherine watching over the lighthouse.
Bout Tours Out to Boon Island Light
Boon Island is rather remote to many tour boats, even though it is only 6 miles away from the shore, as the rocky shoal can be a dangerous area for larger vessels. New England Eco Adventures provides tours out to Boon Island lighthouse on a Navy S.E.A.L Rigid Inflatable Boat (R.I.B) that glides over the water. They also offer tours along the southern Maine coastline with narrated tours to three other lighthouses, which include Nubble light, Goat Island light, and Wood Island light. Cove Runner Coastline Cruises prides charter trips (up to 6 passengers) along the southern coast of Maine, including trips out to Boon island light in a 23’ power catamaran.
Here are some photos I’ve taken of Boon Island lighthouse.
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.