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Ghosts of Point Lookout Maryland and the Most Haunted Lighthouse in the USA

From popular tourist attractions to lesser-known areas, Dolores shares destinations in Maryland as well as regional day trips.

Point Lookout Hospital Civil War Era

Point Lookout Hospital Civil War Era

Where Is Point Lookout?

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 of paranormal activities. Casual visitors as well as state employees and park rangers have also 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 it is 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 (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 Ware Era Hospital

Civil Ware 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 the trip for some poor soldier suffering battle wounds was a long and 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. It was hot and mosquito infested in summer and freezing cold in winter. Conditions were crowded and dirty and there were reports of contaminated water and spoiled food.

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A Smallpox outbreak forced the establishment of a separate unit for infectious disease. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 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

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 area on the Potomac River

Point Lookout area on the Potomac River

Point Lookout Potomac River side beach

Point Lookout Potomac River side beach

Haunted Lighthouse at Point Lookout

A lighthouse has stood at Point Lookout to protect ships with its beacon since 1830. Beginning as a 1.5-story house, the building has been enlarged over the years. Now, an automatic offshore light has rendered the old lighthouse obsolete. Point Lookout Lighthouse, restored to how it looked in 1927, now stands 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.

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

Point Lookout Lighthouse circa 1930

Ann Davis: A Ghost 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, Maryland

Lighthouse at Point Lookout, Maryland

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 two 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.
A bleak, windswept beach at Point Lookout. Maryland

A bleak, windswept beach at Point Lookout. Maryland

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.

© 2010 Dolores Monet


Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on June 29, 2018:

Hi Baggins - thank you for sharing your story. I don't think that I'd be too keen on hanging around after a night like that. But ghosts don't really hurt people. And plenty of folks would love a night like that!

Baggins2001 on June 27, 2018:

We stayed there early in the camping season 2016. The only campers in our loop. During the night footsteps paved slowly back and forth outside of our trailer. It had rained the day before and the ground was still quite soft. No footprints in the morning. But "it" crunched heavily, back and forth. Next night there was otherworldly chanting noises, loud and hollow sounding. Not a radio, or any other system like that. It went on from around 11 pm - 2 am. Nothing about it was recognizable as just people down at a beach. Packed up and out we went next morning. Never going back.

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on February 13, 2016:

Ron Wood - what a wonderful childhood! I can't imagine living down there, it is so beautiful and you all must have had a great time tramping around the area. I think Point Lookout is so peaceful and certainly never felt anything creepy in the area. But I bet it can get pretty scary during a big storm! Thank you for sharing!

Ron Wood60 on February 11, 2016:

My family & I lived on the park grounds in 3 different homes between the 60s and 70s as my father, Philip 'Bob' Wood was the new Superintendent of Point Lookout state park in it's infancy. We lived in the lighthouse for 2 years, trampled over, probably every inch from the causeway to the point along with my brother & sister, Jerry Dentons two daughters and Ron McCormack, never experiencing anything out of the ordinary. My mom wrote a piece for the Point Lookout website, which can be read here;

I actually loved living in the area because of it's peaceful & quiet atmosphere and it wasn't until later, after we left the park for good in 1973, when the paranormal events were first reported... Thanks for listening!

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on October 21, 2014:

John Barret - thank you for sharing the story. We were down there a few weeks ago and didn't run into anything weird. But Point Lookout is so beautiful that I don't need to run into ghosts to appreciate a visit. Sure would be interesting though.

John Barrett on October 17, 2014:

My wife and I camped at Point Lookout in the early 90's. Being mid-week, we were the only ones in the park aside from the camp hosts. We were sitting at our picnic table one evening when there was a sulfur smell that came out of nowhere. At the same moment my wife yelled that something had touched her. I turned around and saw one mantle of our propane lantern go out while the other stayed burning normally. Never before or since has the lantern ever done that. When we spoke with the hosts the next morning they were not surprised, telling us that we had been visited by one of the local ghosts. Prior to this we had no idea that the area was haunted. Definitely a "lively" place.

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on September 25, 2014:

kyle - thank you for you interest and for sharing your story. Though I have visited Point Lookout quite a few times, I never ran int anything ghostly. It's so beautiful there that I am taken up by just wandering around and enjoying the place. We did, however, once see what looked like a parascope moving through the water of the Bay when we were standing on the causeway. That seemed a bit odd. It looked too close to be a submarine. Wonder if they have little submarine drones? We just stood there and waved at it.

bwhite062007 - thanks!

Ann Dean - Well lucky you to live in such an interesting and beautiful locale! Thank you for sharing! I'm glad that you enjoyed! Next time I go there, I think that I'll be more conscious of the possibility of running into a ghost.

ANN DEAN on September 25, 2014:

I spent the first 40+ years of my life in Ridge & Scotland MD.. After Marrying Edelen Morgan we lived on Scotland Beach & I worked at Point Lookout State Park as Jerry Swords Secretary. Mr. Sword often talked about the Ghosts at the camp grounds & lighthouse. On several occassions I typed up notes from where a group had looked for Ghosts. Your article brought back some fond memories of working with Donnie Hammett, Jerry Denton & Jerry Sword. Thanks for the trip to my home.

kyle redman on September 24, 2014:

This is a great article. I live just 20 minutes north of point lookout. I've walked through the light house and yes it is incredibly eerie. They open it 1 day a year to the public and a few people report having experiences. Park ranges are always reporting strange sightings and experiences around the park. One ranger who lived on the park always reported his dog acting strange and would some times refuse to enter random rooms within his house even if the ranger was in the room. One day the ranger left his house to go to work and when he came home he found his dog sitting on the front porch. While he was away something scared the dog so bad it jumped through the second story bathroom window, which was closed. The dog was unharmed as luckily he landed on the roof of a camper parked beside the house. The ranger decided to move out after this. This is just one of many incidents that have happened within the park.

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on November 15, 2013:

Jen - okay, that's pretty scary. I have had no encounters but feel as if any would just make me sad. Those poor men there during that terrible war. We've had family arguments over the whole scene, some said how they got what they deserved. But the poor soldiers, most of them never owned slaves. They were just caught up in a terrible fight. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

Jen on November 12, 2013:

My grandson husband and nephew went to fort Lincoln at dusk on a Saturday evening, they saw a shadow enter in the larger building, my husband went into investigate when the door slammed as he entered the back of the room, he ran out, then re-entered with my nephew and grandson sat at the table then heard what sounded like someone getting out of the bed and walking toward them they all ran out and ended up at the top of the hill looking down at the buildings, it was then the noticed all of the doors were open in all of the buildings, all of a sudden one of the doors opened and closed 3 times, they were convinced of what they saw and got out of there

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on August 09, 2013:

Maggie Crooks - well I've never been in the lighthouse either. I love Point Lookout because it is so beautiful! Thanks!

kristinad - thank you for telling your story. I enjoyed it! I've never seen a ghost there myself, though I did see one, I think, at another historic spot in MD. I love to walk around Point Lookout for the magnificent views, the birds (we always see bluebirds and eagles), but I do love the mystery as well as the history.

Once there, I heard some racket in the bushes. It was very cold and I was just coming up from the beach on the Bay side. It wasn't a ghost, but a huge and awesome buck snorting and prancing and almost scary.

kristinad on August 08, 2013:

I just wanted to say I personally experienced the confederate soldier at point lookout. He looks exactly like Abe Lincoln in a confederate soldier suit and looks worried but on a mission. I encountered him walking on a trail from the campsites.myself and my two stepbrothers. He paid no mind to us but jeez he was harsh looking. I thought it so odd he was in such heavy outdated clothes because it was high 90s out. I thought it was an actor for the park. He paid us no mind but about 10 minutes later we were chased by a presence that we couldn't see but was moving the tall grasses and trees beside us and we could hear the footsteps down the trail. When we`d run it would run and stop when we stopped. We ran and kept running until we were back at the campsite. I was 10 at the time and my brothers 9 and 11. I don't want to sound ignorant but I had no idea at the time any of point lookouts history. My family frequented point lookout often and it wasn't until I was 18 and was there crabbing that I put the pieces together. I was in their little General store getting bait and snacks when I seen a postcard there that depicted the man's uniform exactly. I got chills and asked the older lady working there some details.she filled me in. I have since done some searches here and there ( hence what landed me here) and have seen he is a common occurrence. I have been to point lookout numerous times since and have even brought my children and have not had any more experiences. I did however have a park worker once tell me about t he old lady on the beach.he told me she is dressed in white and looks for the grave of her child which was moved during eerie!

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on October 26, 2010:

PeeDee - reading about the horrible conditions of those hospitals and prisons is heartbreaking as is the thought of how Americans were treating one another. War is awful, and no picnic now either. I did not realize that parts of Andersonville have been preserved, a sad remnant of history. Thanks for your comment.

ThePeeDeeWildcat from Just Across The State Line on October 26, 2010:

I greatly enjoyed your Hub. I had a couple of relatives that died there in Point Lookout circa 1864 (or so we think). Many years ago, I went to the old Confederate prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Georgia. A fair amount of that old camp has been preserved. The suffering at those POW camps can hardly be imagined in today's America.

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