Most Haunted Lighthouse in Connecticut: Stratford Shoal (Middle Ground) Lighthouse
The Long Island Sound waterway along the New York and Connecticut boundaries contains one of the most treacherous waterways along the eastern seaboard. With its many islands and reefs, lighthouses needed to be built to aid mariners and shipping traffic from crashing on these rocky formations in stormy weather. Stratford Shoal Lighthouse, also referred to as Middle Ground Lighthouse or also spelled as “Middleground” light, is located on a rocky shoal roughly a mile in diameter, with most of it submerged nine feet below mean sea level midway between Stratford Point in Connecticut, and Long Island’s Old Field Point in New York. Although initially, the lighthouse was due to be completed around 1872, consistent severe weather delayed completion until it was lit in 1878, with a 60-foot granite tower to withstand these dramatic conditions. Two events have caused mariners to consider this beacon as haunted.
Church Bells Under Sea
Before the lighthouse was built, the ship Trustful was ready to set sail out of Bridgeport with a load of church bells as a major storm approached. As the seas started churning, some crew members started talking about staying on land and abandoning the ship. The captain, notified of the event, told all crew members that the “bells would peel a dirge to the white livered folk” who stayed behind if the boat sank. The crew reluctantly stayed aboard, and, as almost a prophecy, the ship ran into the shoal and sank, drowning all aboard. Many mariners have claimed afterward that when approaching the shoal in inclement weather, the muffled sound of church bells can be heard beneath the waves.
The Suicidal Assistant Keeper
Due to its isolated location, keepers sometimes would develop psychological issues. In 1905, Julius Koster, the second assistant keeper, and a lighthouse rookie, was left behind with First Assistant Morrell Hulse while the head keeper went ashore to gather supplies. There, Koster, who was mentally unstable, argued with Hulse and lunged at Hulse with a razor. Hulse avoided being cut and persuaded Koster to put away the razor. Koster locked himself into the lantern room with an axe a few days later. He then stopped the rotation of the light and threatened to smash it and kill himself. Once again, after hours of pleading, Hulse persuaded Koster to come out and talk with him. When Koster came out of the lantern room, he decided to jump off the tower into the water. Hulse quickly dove in and rescue him. Fearing for his safety and Koster’s, Hulse tied Koster up and kept him at the lighthouse tower for two days until help arrived.
Koster was taken off the island and transported to a sanitarium in New York, where he killed himself a few days later. Although Koster did not perish at the lighthouse, many believe his spirit appears around the lighthouse throwing tantrums. Keepers and Coast Guardsmen have witnessed doors slamming in the middle of the night, chairs thrown against the walls, and posters ripped down. Hot water pans have also been observed being flung onto the floor from the stove.
Although the lighthouse was automated in 1969, local mariners going by the lighthouse still claim to hear lots of banging, grinding, and loud sounds as the ghost of Koster continues to throw tantrums.
Getting Out to Middle Ground (Stratford Shoal) Lighthouse
The lighthouse is not open to the public, and few boats go out due to its remote location in the middle of the Long Island Sound. Presently, there are no public boat tours out to this remote lighthouse.
The lighthouse can also be seen from a distance from the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport Ferry.
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 and adventures, unique parks and museums, and even lighthouses you can stay overnight. Like the one above, 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, special parks and museums, and lighthouses you can stay overnight. There are also stories of haunted lighthouses in these regions.
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