There’s something about an isolated old lighthouse that seems to beg for a resident ghost, and such stories have long been a staple of books, TV and movies. Not everyone believes the tales, but nobody can deny that ghostly legends and their ilk are inextricably woven into the fabric of our lighthouse lore.
Impact Television Productions’ popular shows Haunted Lighthouses, Ghost Waters and Night Visitors have been seen in recent years on The Learning Channel (TLC). Coming soon will be Haunted Lighthouses of America, to be seen on the Travel Channel. Filming locations this summer have included Florida’s Pensacola Lighthouse, Oregon’s Yaquina Bay and Heceta Head lights, Owls Head and Prospect Harbor lighthouses in Maine, and Fairport Harbor Light in Ohio.
Producer George Steitz of Impact TV readily admits to an ulterior motive behind his programs about lighthouse ghosts. “I hope to stir a few imaginations, especially in younger people,” he says. “I hope someone will want to find out more about what they see in the show, not necessarily ghosts, but about American history, customs, travel, lighthouses — especially early lighthouse life.”
Steitz says his objective is for the program to be “chilling and evocative” rather than scary. “What we do is fun,” says Steitz, “and I hope viewers are aware what a great time it is and how much we enjoy the adventure.”
What’s new in this edition? “I’ve tried to pick up the pace a bit,” says Steitz, “and include more lighthouses and more stories.” Some interviewees, like historians Elinor De Wire and William O. Thomson, will be familiar to lighthouse buffs. Also appearing are a number of people who have experienced odd goings-on at the light stations, including one at Pensacola that Steitz describes as “one of the most chilling accounts of a strange experience that I’ve ever heard.”
Steitz was never a ghost enthusiast before, but says that producing the programs has gotten him “into the spirit, so to speak.” His interest in finding and sharing the stories has increased. “I think it’s because legends about ghosts are so closely connected to the actual history and character of the lighthouses,” he explains, “intertwined with stories about early lighthouse life, for example. Like most legends, nearly every one we feature has some basis in real history.”
The bottom line for Steitz is education. “If someone visits a lighthouse as a result of one of these shows, or goes to a bookstore, library or the internet to do some exploring, I’ll be satisfied.”
Watch for Haunted Lighthouses of America, coming in early 2004 to the Travel Channel.
This story appeared in the
September 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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