The Story Behind This Haunted Lighthouse In Massachusetts Will Make You Shiver
Minot’s Ledge Light illuminates the water about a mile off the coast of Cohasset and Scituate. It’s been called the most dangerous lighthouse in America, and was the site of the most tragic lighthouse disaster in the nation’s history. Today, the victims of that terrible event are said to still linger at the light.
Read on to learn the heartrending and utterly chilling story of this lighthouse.
Minot’s Ledge was meant to make the waters around Cohasset safer for sailors. The area was lousy with jagged rocks that would shred the hulls of unwary ships, and local sailors frequently drowned within sight of shore.
As the body count grew, it was evident that a lighthouse could potentially save lives. The original Minot’s Ledge Light was built in 1860, but there were rumors that it was structurally unsound. Keepers of the lighthouse warned that it wouldn’t be sturdy enough to withstand the assault of a fierce storm, but no one listened.
On April 11, 1851, less than a year after it was first constructed, John Bennett, the keeper of Minot’s Ledge Light, left the outpost for a quick trip to shore. He left his two assistants, Joseph Wilson and Joseph Antoine, in charge of the light.
That evening, a howling gale engulfed the area. The keeper watched helplessly from shore as his lighthouse and friends were pummeled by the strong surf and biting winds. The lighthouse fog bell began to toll continuously, which many believe was Wilson and Antoine’s way of saying a final goodbye to their friends and family. The beacon went dark around 10 p.m.
When the storm cleared the next day, the lighthouse was gone. Chillingly, a message in a bottle from the desperate assistants was found washed ashore:
“The lighthouse won’t stand over to night. She shakes 2 feet each way now. God bless you all. J.W. + J.A.”
The mangled bodies of the assistants were later recovered from nearby beaches. Joseph Wilson’s case was particularly heartbreaking, as he was found to be dead from exhaustion and exposure at Nantasket. Wilson had apparently survived the destruction of the lighthouse and made it to shore alive.
A new lighthouse was built in 1860 and stands to this day, but its history has been troubled by misfortune and eerie happenings.
Keepers rarely lasted more than a year, with many reporting that a sense of dread and unease pervaded the lighthouse. One keeper was driven insane during his time at the light, stating that he could not sleep due to the constant ringing of the fog bell, even though it was clear to those on land that the bell was not ringing continuously at all. He also developed an unusual hatred of living in rooms without corners.
Almost all the keepers reported some sort of unexplainable phenomena. Two ghostly figures were frequently sighted in the lantern room of the lighthouse, and more than one keeper reported hearing the fog bell ring when it had not been activated at all.
The Quonahassitis native people also believed that Minot’s Ledge was the domain of Hobomock, a demon-like spirit that resented the construction of the lighthouse on its territory and cursed the site.
Most terrifying of all is one regularly reported sighting. Even after the lighthouse was automated in 1977, boaters in rough seas sometimes claim to have seen a man clinging to a rope or ladder on the side of Minot’s Ledge Light. For years, people reported that the man was screaming something indecipherable. Finally, a Portuguese fisherman saw the haunting figure and reported that the man was shrieking for help in Portuguese. Chillingly, it is documented that Joseph Antoine, one of the doomed assistants, had immigrated from Portugal.
Today, the glow of Minot’s Ledge Light can be seen for 15 miles around. No keeper mans the light, but local boats and sailors occasionally report catching glimpses of figures standing in the doorway of the light, gazing mournfully over the waves to the shore.
Looking for more haunting lore? Check out the Massachusetts forest that is the most haunted in America.