Ghosts of Point Lookout Maryland and the Most Haunted Lighthouse in the USA
The ghost of a Confederate soldier runs across the road at dusk. The ghost of an old woman searches for her own grave. And a long dead lighthouse keeper still sings at night. This is Point Lookout.
Point Lookout Hospital Civil War Era
Point Lookout in Scotland, Saint Mary's County, Maryland is probably the most haunted area in the state. The Point Lookout Lighthouse has been called the most haunted lighthouse in the United States.
Located on a point of land where the wide Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, Point Lookout was a place of numerous disasters and tragedies. It was once the site of a Civil War era hospital; a prisoner of war camp; a refugee camp for runaway and freed slaves; shipwrecks; and a hotel that burned to the ground.
The Point Lookout Lighthouse at the southern tip is often visited by investigators into paranormal activities. Casual visitors as well as state employees and park rangers have claimed to see, hear, and even meet ghosts.
It is easy to see why Point Lookout has the reputation of hauntings. The southernmost tip of Maryland, a bleak and lonely spit of sand torn by storms and shifting currents is, at times, mist enshrouded; at other times wind whipped and wild. The eerie cry of whistling ducks undulating over the fog enveloped Bay; the lonely scream of an eagle, and the shifting shadows in the woods all contribute to suggest the presence of spirits and paranormal occurrences.
Brief Historical Background of Point Lookout
Used for thousands of years as a hunting and fishing ground by the Yaocomico tribe of indigenous Americans, the area was first sighted by Spanish explorers in the 1500. John Smith landed there in 1612.
In 1634, the area was settled by Leonard Calvert who built his manor, called St. Michaels Manor, there. Established as a colony based on freedom of religion, St. Mary's City (a few miles north of Point Lookout) became Maryland's first capital. When Protestant sympathies turned against the Catholics at St. Mary's and outlawed Catholic Mass, the original families were driven out. And when the state capital was moved to Annapolis, St. Mary's City was forgotten. The buildings fell into ruins and the town disappeared.
During the Revolutionary War, Captain Rezin Beall prevented a British armada of 70 ships from sailing up the Potomac near St. George's Island. And during the War of 1812, Point Lookout earned its name by providing a watch post for spotting British ships.
A lighthouse, that became so famously haunted, was built and put into use in 1830.
In the 1880s, developers built a resort and hotel to offer the cooling breezes off the water as an escape from hot, humid Washington, DC. But the hotel burned down. Today, all that is left of the old hotel is a huge, rusty wheel that protrudes from the sand.
Civil War Era Hospital
Confederate Ghost at Point Lookout
During the Civil War, Federal forces occupied Point Lookout, building a prisoner of war camp and a hospital for the wounded from the Battle of Gettysburg. The camp and hospital were far from Gettysburg; so a trip, for some poor soldier suffering battle wounds, was a long, arduous journey. The isolation of the area made escape attempts by Confederate prisoners of war almost impossible.
The Hammond General Hospital, designed with wards radiating out from a central hub, like spokes on a wheel, was shut down shortly after the end of the Civil War.
Camp Hoffman, the largest Federal facility for Confederate prisoners was built to contain 10,000 prisoners but is believed, by some, to have held up to 50,000 men. Prisoners were held in an open air camp in tattered canvas tents; hot and mosquito infested in summer; freezing cold in winter. Conditions were crowded and dirty and there were reports of contaminated water and spoiled food.
A Smallpox outbreak forced the establishment of a separate unit for infectious disease.
It is estimated that between 3,000 to 8,000 men died of war wounds and disease and were buried in a mass grave.
One of the most frequent ghost sightings at Point Lookout is a man in Civil War era clothing. He is seen moving across the road, away from what was once the Smallpox unit. The gaunt ghost shambles across the road, reeking of mildew and gunpowder, wearing ragged, homespun clothes. It has been postulated that perhaps a Confederate prisoner feigned illness hoping to escape. But as his ghost runs across the road repeatedly, it is doubtful that he succeeded in his escape attempt. This forlorn ghost seems not to notice the living, but preservers on his eternal path toward an elusive freedom.
Point Lookout Lighthouse - Early 20th Century
Old Taylor Cemetery Ghost
The Taylor family once owned a large part of Point Lookout. In March of 1977, Ranger Donnie Hammett was at work on the Potomac River side of the point, taking environmental data.
Early spring, late afternoon can be a lonely time at Point Lookout. The few visitors had left. Hammett spotted an elderly woman searching for something near the beach. Hammett approached the woman and asked if she needed help. She told him that she was looking for a gravestone.
Hammett felt unwelcome, as if the old woman resented his intrusion. As he moved away from the area, he had a good view of the road. He left shortly afterward and found his vehicle alone in the parking lot. He had not seen any vehicles on the road.
Later, he learned that a tombstone stolen from the Taylor cemetery turned up at a local hotel. Perhaps the woman was searching for her own grave. Authorities are still not quite sure of the exact location of the graveyard. There have been numerous sightings of the ghostly old woman, always searching for the disappeared cemetery.
Point Lookout Wooded Area on the Potomac River
Point Lookout, Potomac River Side Beach
Haunted Lighthouse at Point Lookout
A lighthouse has stood at Point Lookout since 1830,protecting ships with its beacon. Beginning as a 1 1/2 story house, the building has been enlarged over the years. Now, an automatic offshore light has rendered the old lighthouse obsolete. Point Lookout Lighthouse now stands, restored to how it looked in 1927, but much closer to the shoreline due to erosion caused by shifting currents and storms.
Numerous investigators have visited the house in the attempt to gauge paranormal activity. The Point Lookout Lighthouse has been featured in the TV shows Weird Travels and Mystery Hunter. The strange activity has also been highlighted on TLC's series Haunted Lighthouses.
In 1980, Han Holzer, the famous pioneer paranormal researcher, and his team conducted an investigation using EVPs (electric voice phenomena) at the Point Lookout Lighthouse. They recorded 24 different sounds and voices in and around the lighthouse. (See link below)
Another group held a séance and conjured up the spectral image of a Confederate soldier.
In the 1970s, Gerald Sword reported seeing the movement of strange lights inside the house. He heard the murmur of voices, the sounds of doors being opened and closed, and footsteps in the hall - all while he was alone in the haunted building.
Point Lookout Lighthouse is also known for strange and unpleasant odors emanating from several areas of the house, as well as for cold spots. People claim to hear the ghostly sound of moaning as well as the sound of men (or a man) snoring.
Point Lookout Lighthouse circa 1930
Ann Davis, One of the Ghosts of the Point Lookout Lighthouse
Ann Davis, the wife of the first lighthouse keeper maintained the Point Lookout Lighthouse for many years after her husband's death. In a famous photograph, the ghost of Ann Davis appears at the top of a stairway in a long blue skirt and white blouse. She stayed on at the lighthouse until her death when she was found laying in the lantern room, having died while performing her routine tasks.
One of the sounds heard in the lighthouse is a soft, female voice saying "this is my house." It seems as if the dedicated lighthouse keeper prefers to haunt Point Lookout rather than moving on.
Lighthouse at Point Lookout
Laura Berg's Weird Experiences at the Haunted Lighthouse
Laura Berg, an employee of the State of Maryland who lived at the lighthouse in the 1970s had several paranormal experiences there. She accepted the hauntings and claimed that she did not feel threatened by what she felt were benign presences. In a shocking photograph, Laura appears holding a candle. Just behind her stands the spectral image of a bedraggled Civil War era soldier.
She also heard the sound of heavy boots clumping along the floor boards at night. She heard a female voice singing merrily as well as the sounds of ghostly men chatting and laughing.
One one occasion, the mother of one of her guests heard a ghostly voice calling her name, Helen.
But the most remarkable paranormal occurrence was when a spirit, angel, or ghost saved Laura's life. Laura was awakened one night to see a strange configuration of lights dancing over her bed. She then smelled smoke and ran downstairs to find that a space heater had caught fire. Perhaps, the ghost of Ann Davis, in her dedication to the lighthouse, warned Berg and protected her beloved lighthouse.
Shipwrecks, Murders, and Other Possible Ghosts at Point Lookout
- The Ark and the Dove were the two ships that brought the first European settlers under Leonard Calvert to Maryland. One of the passengers, Thomas Allen, was reported as shot and killed at Point Lookout.
- In July of 1864, the USS Tulip, exploded off the coast of Point Lookout. Despite problems with a damaged boiler, Captain William Smith gave the order to increase steam pressure. The boiler blew up causing the subsequent sinking of the ship. Forty-seven souls were lost that day. Ten lived, though 2 later died of injuries incurred at the time of the explosion and shipwreck. Eight mangled corpses washed up on the shore of Point Lookout.
- In 1878, a hurricane, known as the Gale of '78, ripped the salon deck off a cargo and passenger ship named the Express. Waves rolled the ship just north of Point Lookout and 16 people were lost. The Second Mate, Joseph (or James) Heaney has knocked at the door of the lighthouse during storms. He sometimes appears on the beach in a sodden uniform before major storms.
Point Lookout - Potomac River Side - A Bleak Wind Swept Beach
Visit Point Lookout, Maryland
You can visit Point Lookout State Park at the southern tip of the Western Shore of Maryland. It can be reached by following Route 5 where it ends at Point Lookout Road. Point Lookout is more than a haunted place. It's great for fishing, birdwatching, or just spending a lovely day. The water views are excellent and you are almost guaranteed to see a Bald Eagle.
- The old buildings of the hospital and prison are long gone and much of the that area is now underwater. Fort Lincoln was not completed until the end of the Civil War. The Friends of Point Lookout have rebuilt and restored the old earthen walled fort and some of its buildings on the Potomac River side of Point Lookout.
- The Point Lookout Lighthouse is closed to the public except for special events such as the Point Lookout Lighthouse Paranormal Nights when the lighthouse is open from 9PM til 2AM. Reservations are necessary.
- Living History weekends in June feature a Confederate Memorial Service. Civil War re-enactors recreate a Civil War era encampment. There are heritage displays, historical information and other information provided by genealogical and preservationist groups.