NOTE: The descriptions of the places in this guide were accurate at the time the articles were posted. Please be advised that you should call ahead before traveling to any of them.

Point Lookout Lighthouse - A Haunting View

By: Michelle Harper

After watching "Haunted Lighthouses" on TLC and learning that the one of the featured locations was only a few hours away, we knew we had found the perfect place to include in our next "Destinations" section. Point Lookout Lighthouse, dubbed "the most haunted lighthouse in America" is located off of Rt. 5 in the southern tip of St. Mary's County, Maryland where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the fact that its light has been extinguished since 1965 and no one has occupied its residence since the 1970's, this lighthouse still holds a fascination for many. The lighthouse is currently owned by the Naval Air Test Center and is securely locked behind a chain link fence. It has a solitary and foreboding air about it that is in sharp contrast to the crowded beaches filled with fishermen, bathers and campers enjoying the open beauty of adjoining Point Lookout State Park.

The original lighthouse was commissioned in 1830 but the present building has only been in existence since 1883. The area the lighthouse is built upon has had strategic importance over many centuries. It was originally discovered in 1612 by Captain John Smith and was used during the Revolutionary War to serve as a lookout point for American soldiers. But it wasn't until the Civil War that the site became notorious for massive suffering and tragedy. After the Battle of Gettysburg, the scenic lighthouse began to overlook misery and suffering right on its very banks as wounded soldiers, over 9000 of them, from both the North and South poured into Hammond Hospital located on the point.

To add to the misery and suffering of the area, many Confederate soldiers were to meet their fate a mere few hundred yards from the lighthouse in the largest Civil War camp for Confederate soldiers. A crude 20 - acre pen was built to contain Confederate prisoners of war. The only shelter they were given from the elements were open air tents. The marshy land, lack of shelter and unsanitary conditions helped contribute to the death of many soldiers who were too weak and sick to rebel. During the course of its 3 - year existence between 1862 and 1865 over 52,000 soldiers passed through the camp. Of these men, almost 4000 would never leave alive. With so much suffering within its shadows, it is no small wonder that that spirits have chosen to remain behind forever on the grounds of the lighthouse.

Some of the unearthly reports from Point Lookout include the sighting of the specter of Ann Davis, ghost of the first lighthouse keeper and the ghost of a young man reported to have washed ashore after his steamer sank in 1758. Many conversations of unknown origin and mysterious footsteps have been reported within the lighthouse. It has also been reported that a mysterious woman searching for the graves of her lost children was seen walking along the grounds. Many graves have been unearthed and moved into the Civil War cemetery and others have been washed away by the sea further contributing to the notion of lost souls wandering along the shore.

Today Point Lookout enjoys a much more relaxing and welcoming reputation. The state park is filled with people who appear to be more or less oblivious to the area's ominous past as they enjoy the many recreational activities the park has to offer such as fishing, swimming, camping and picnicking. The park also includes a Visitor's Center and a Civil War Museum for those who wish to delve deeper into Point Lookout's history. If you wish to visit the lighthouse itself, you will have to wait until the first Saturday in November as it is the only day that it is open to the public. In the meantime, how about a little night fishing along the banks adjacent to this infamous lighthouse? - If you dare.

For more information see:
Point Lookout State ParkP.O. Box 48
Scotland, MD 20687
(301) 872-5688

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