Point Lookout Lighthouse

In November our teams (Midnight Watchmen and the Black Moon Paranormal Research Society) investigated the Point Lookup Lighthouse in Maryland. Listed on many sites as the most haunted location in Maryland we ventured from Pennsylvania to Maryland in search of the unknown. An outstanding example a wooden dwelling with a lantern fixed on top of the building, in contrast to the stand alone lighthouses with separate quarters for the light keepers; the Point Lookout Lighthouse is situated at the convergence of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. Operations at the light ceased in 1965, and the Fog Bell Tower is now located at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum; yet despite its inactivity and short life beginning in 1830, the lighthouse has an amazing, full history.

The potential placement of a lighthouse is based on the dangers of the waters it oversees. In the case of Point Lookout, it was the shoals at the entrance of the Potomac River. In 1825, the Federal Government knew that something had to be done to protect the shipping industry. Time and money was not on the side of their side, and a lengthy battle ensued with the points land owner. Once a settlement had been reached, and money was appropriated for the structure, a contract was awarded to John Donahoo, also spelled Donohoo, on July 22, 1830. Among his other work was the Blackistone Island lighthouse, which no longer stands.

Operations at the lighthouse began on September 20, 1830, with James Davis being named as the first lighthouse keeper. His appointment was short lived, and he died in early December of the same year. His daughter Ann took over the keeper’s duties, becoming the first female keeper. In a grand step for early women’s rights, she earned the same salary as her father, at $350 per year. Though early records are shaky and not always well-kept, a fire destroyed some of the early census papers for the area; it is presumed that Ann Davis passed away in 1847.

A host of other lighthouse keepers followed the Davis family, and not all of them were as well-regarded as the original two employees. William Wood had a reputation for being clumsy. The Edwards family assumed control from 1853 through to 1869, with the patriarch of the family, Richard Edwards, dying soon after his appointment. Coincidentally, like Davis, he died within the same year he became the primary keeper; and he was followed by his daughter Martha. In 1855, Edward’s second daughter, Pamelia, took over for Martha.

Many of the later stories and intrigue surrounding the lighthouse come from Pamelia’s time as keeper. In 1862, the area was used as a Union hospital, of which most of what would have been the hospital area is underwater. The following year, the land became a small prison camp for mostly Confederate sympathizers. After the battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863, the prison grew to confine Confederate captives from the battle. It was officially named Camp Hoffman and held between 4,000 and 9,000 prisoners depending on the date. When prisoner exchanges were halted later in the war, the record number grew to 20,000. In total, Camp Hoffman claimed 52,000 prisoners and over 4,000 deaths.
Rumors persisted from the time of the Civil War to today that the Edwards sisters kept a few Confederate prisoners in the lighthouse with them. Some say that it was out of loneliness for Pamela, others claim that her sister Elkanah was a Southern sympathizer. Accordingly, per information gained from the historical link provided by the Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society (PLLPS), Inc., official records from the US Archives note the disloyalty of a lighthouse keeper, dated on January 6, 1862. Regardless of perceived loyalties on the part of the keepers, the Edwards family was allowed to keep their post throughout the war and for several years following it.

Eventually the lighthouse fell under government control, with the Navy and later the State of Maryland holding possession of Point Lookout. During this time, part of structure was rehabilitated. Once operations stopped, the state and navy agreed to rent out the property. One tenant lived there from 1979 until 1981. For several years following her stay, little was done with the property until it was opened to the public in 1990.

In February of 2006, the navy formally transferred ownership of the property to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc. was formed in August of that year. Their goal is to assist with the restoration of the lighthouse and its surrounding property.
This was first time at a lighthouse for the Watchmen, and investigating it was a blast. Plenty of room for us to walk or sit plus to setup up experiments and recorders. One of those setups was a Vortex Ghost Gear dog trigger object which as the maker states is “…wired with Vortex Technology , which throws an E Field from its nose to its tail, if anything breaks or manipulates this field a series of 4 LED’s will light up and an audible sound will alarm or music will play depending on which of the two modes you select. For instance if you asked a spirit to run its hand down its back as if you were petting the animal or touch it, maybe touch its nose, it would break the E-field causing it to go off…” Facing it was one of our still game cameras to capture anything that may set it off – at one point in the night we heard a noise like the trigger going off but in a nearby room and none of equipment had gone off. It was an experience that we could not debunk.

References:
“About Us.” The Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc. Accessed February 3, 2016.http://www.pllps.org/aboutus.shtml
“Historic Light Station Information & Photography. United States Coast Guard. Accessed February 3, 2016. http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblighthouses/lhmd.asp
“Historical Overview.” Point Lookout Lighthouse. Accessed February 3, 2016. http://www.ptlookoutlighthouse.com/
“Point Lookout State Park and Civil War Museum.” Civil War Trust. Accessed February 3, 2016. http://www.civilwar.org/civil-war-discovery-trail/sites/point-lookout-state-park-and-civil-war-museum.html

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