Hauntings at Boon Island Lighthouse in Maine: Lighthouse Keeper’s Bride Goes Insane Over Her Husband’s Death
This story has gone into folklore and legend at Boon Island Lighthouse, in Maine, as proper documentation from the mid-1800s 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 1800s 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. Still, many believe in its authenticity, including those that witnessed specific events long after his 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, most lying underwater at high tide. It’s located about 6 miles from the town of York, Maine, shoreline and was the site 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 came 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 needed to check the tower and make sure the lantern was lit for any mariners stuck in the storm so that 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 of the tower. Suddenly 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 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 dragged 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 to 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, 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 chilly 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 afterward, 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, moans and screeches were also claimed to have 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 opened 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 Boon Island, but most of these animals would refuse to go in the lighthouse tower. Some dogs have been witnessed chasing something around the rocks, constantly barking as if to give a warning.
One Coast Guard Keeper, in the early 1970s, 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 shone brightly when 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 bothered us.” Many mariners and locals believe it is Katherine watching over the lighthouse.
Bout Tours Out to Boon Island Light
Boon Island is relatively 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 tours 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 on 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 of Boon Island Lighthouse.
The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships: Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England. In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants were the ten original six-masted coal schooners and one colossal seven-masted vessel, built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies and measured longer than a football field! This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases the historical accounts that followed these mighty ships. Stories involve competitions, accidents, battling destructive storms, acts of heroism, and their final voyages.
My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides memorable 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, adventures, unique parks and museums, and even lighthouses you can stay overnight. You’ll also find plenty of stories of shipwrecks and rescues. Lighthouses and their nearby attractions are divided into regions for weekly and weekend explorers. You’ll also find plenty of stories of hauntings around lighthouses.
My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, provides memorable human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions you can explore and tours. Lighthouses and their nearby attractions are divided into regions for weekly and weekend explorers. Attractions and tours also include whale watching tours, lighthouse tours, windjammer sailing tours and adventures, unique parks and museums, and lighthouses you can stay overnight. There are also stories of haunted lighthouses in these regions like the one about Boon Island Lighthouse mentioned above.
Copyright © Allan Wood Photography, do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved.
Join, Learn, and Support The American Lighthouse Foundation