This Florida Lighthouse Is Said To Be One Of The Most Haunted Places In America

St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in the United States, with its founding dating back to the 1565, when Florida was first located by Spanish explorers, per Smithsonian. In 1824, the city's lighthouse was constructed. It sat unused during the Civil War but went back into use in 1867. There was however one significant issue: erosion was starting to encroach upon the land on which the original lighthouse sat, according to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. This issue was reported to the United States Lighthouse Board on multiple occasions, but it wasn't until 1871 that Congress would approve funding for a new lighthouse.

The new superintendent of lighthouse construction, Hezikiah Pittee, moved his family from Maine to St. Augustine, bringing with him his wife, Mary, and their three daughters Mary Adelaide, 15; Eliza,13; and Carrie, 4. His job was to oversee the construction of the city's new lighthouse tower.

The Pittee girls needed to find a way to occupy themselves and they took to turning the lighthouse construction site into a makeshift play area. This would turn out to be an ill-advised decision that would end in tragedy.

A tragic accident at the lighthouse

One of the girls' favorite playtime activities involved a railroad car that was used to move construction supplies around the site. The tracks the car rode on, according to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, made their way down to the water and the only thing that kept the car from crashing into it was a wooden board. The girls liked turning this into their own little roller coaster, riding it down the tracks.

On July 10, 1873, the three Pittee girls, along with one unidentified 10-year-old friend, climbed aboard the cart for a ride. What they didn't realize, was that the board at the end of the track was missing. The railroad car raced toward the water, but with no board to stop its momentum, the car continued into the water, where it flipped over and trapped the girls beneath it.

A man working at the lighthouse site saw the accident happen and rushed to save the girls, but it was too late. The only one to survive the accident was 4-year-old Carrie. A funeral was held in St. Augustine after which the Pittees had Mary Adelaide and Eliza buried in Maine. The girls' friend who was killed with them was African-American, and her burial place is unknown. 

Strange happenings at the St. Augustine lighthouse

In the decades since the tragedy, the St. Augustine lighthouse has had more than its fair share of unexplained, possibly paranormal events. According to St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, the lighthouse's last keeper before it was automated in 1955, reported hearing footsteps in the house. He moved out of the main house and into one of the smaller buildings because he believed he believed it was haunted.

Following the lighthouse's automation, the main house was made available to renters. One renter reported waking up one night to a young girl standing next to his bed, who then disappeared. In 1970 — just shy of 100 years after the tragedy — a mysterious fire burned through the Keeper's house, destroying the inside.

After years of fundraising to save the building from demolition, the lighthouse and its accompanying buildings were turned into a museum. Construction workers reported strange happenings during the renovation of the site, and today the museum offers ghost tours site.