Ghost of Drowned Keeper Frederick Jordan at Penfield Reef Light in Connecticut Still Helps in Rescuing Mariners
Penfield Reef Lighthouse sits atop a dangerous reef about a mile offshore from Fairfield, Connecticut, in Long Island Sound.
It is believed to be haunted by the ghost of an old keeper who drowned trying to get ashore to see his family.
Keeper Frederick Jordan hadn’t seen his family for weeks due to a series of storms, stranding him at Penfield Reef Lighthouse until he was finally relieved by Assistant Keeper Rudolph Iten. On a cold morning on December 22, 1916, a series of gale force winds came up suddenly, churning the waters, but the keeper decided to row ashore to join his family with handmade Christmas presents. In a dory, Jordan set out around 1:30 p.m. that afternoon as huge waves started tossing the keeper’s boat. Suddenly a large sea swell created a huge wave and broke over the craft, spilling Jordan into the icy waters a couple of hundred yards away from the lighthouse shore. Assistant Keeper Rudolf Iten witnessed in horror from the shore as his friend struggled over the raging waters. Iten grabbed a boat, but as he tried to row toward Keeper Jordan, the winds shifted against him. He could not get his boat near the keeper, who at this point had drifted nearly a half mile away from the shore with the constant wind gusts. Fearing for his own life, Iten had to give up on the rescue and watch Keeper Jorden drift helplessly away, eventually drowning in the cold seas.
Jordan’s body was later recovered, and Iten was absolved of blame for the death. He was then promoted as the next keeper of Penfield Reef lighthouse.
Weeks later, Iten claimed he felt a constant unearthly chill in the Lighthouse and observed a hazy presence coming out of the dead keeper’s former room. One day, Iten found the keepers’ journal on the floor instead of on the shelf where it was placed, and it was opened to the day that Jordan had perished, describing his death. In the following months, Iten claimed to have witnessed a hazy figure coming out of the lantern room at various times and that the light would begin “behaving strangely” each time the ghost appeared.
Years later, another keeper at Penfield Reef Light reported seeing the figure of an old man dressed all in white floating down the stairs of the tower and then disappearing after leaving the tower door. On stormy and foggy nights, other keepers have witnessed a ghost or shadowy figure in the lantern room, swaying and sometimes moaning as if in pain.
One owner of a power yacht reported that in rough weather, his boat was guided to safety by a mysterious figure in a rowboat, which disappeared once they were safe in calmer waters.
1942 a few youngsters were fishing near the lighthouse when they capsized their boat. An old man appeared from the nearby rocky shore, directed the boys to safety at the lighthouse’s base, and then disappeared. When they went to thank him at the lighthouse, the keeper did not know whom they were talking about. After seeing his photograph on the wall, the boys then identified Jordan as their rescuer.
Decades after Jordan’s death, other keepers at the Penfield Reef Lighthouse reported the light acting strangely at times, especially just before a storm. To this day, mariners along the Connecticut coast claim that, in stormy weather, a human figure is seen on the lantern room gallery or floating above the reef itself. Many still believe the ghost of Keeper Jordan is still guarding the safety of mariners who come too close to the dangerous reef.
Here are some photos of Penfield Reef lighthouse in Connecticut.
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