Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Ghost Stories of Lake County - Haunted Lighthouse

Lighthouses are among the oldest structures in America.  Like the castles found in Europe, they are lasting tributes to our past - proud, sturdy, majestic, and sometimes even haunted.  Most ghostly lighthouse tales fall into the category of oral history.  These chilling accounts of hauntings replace the nostalgic whims of being a keeper on an idyllic seaside landscape.  As the sun sets, spidery shadows rise up from the dusty corners.  A trick of light becomes a scary face.  Curious creaks and scrapes echo thru the lighthouse towers.  Some tales are eyewitness accounts.  Others are remnants of lighthouse lore passed down through generations.  Ghost stories are an inseparable part of maritime history.   Such is the case as we visit Fairport Harbor's Haunted Lighthouse.

In 1871, Captain Joseph Babcock, a veteran of the Civil War, moved his family into the light station at Fairport.  Two of his children were born there.  Tragedy soon found the Babcocks.  Their son, Robbie died of smallpox.  Shortly after his death, Mrs. Babcock fell critically ill.  Bedridden, she received many cats to help her cope with her lonely days.  Her favorite was a stray gray puff cat presented to her by Captain Babcock. Sentinel, as he is now known, became her constant companion.  One day he suddenly disappeared.  Despite many efforts, repeated searches yielded no trace of Sentinel.  Mrs. Babcock passed a short while later.  Her beloved feline never was found.  The lighthouse was officially decommissioned in early 1925, ending its hundred year service.  Hard times befell the structure before it was saved by the village residents in 1945. 

Years passed and the keeper's dwelling became home to the FHHS and its curators.  The last curator to live at the lighthouse (1987-1991) reported strange sightings.  A gray cat appeared out of nowhere and dashed about the room.  The gray puff cat became a frequent visitor.  His upstairs sojourns were in the same room where Mrs. Babcock slept.  Visitors to the lighthouse would report similar sightings on the property in the years to follow.  In 2001, the museum was installing A/C and the installer was met by a mummified cat in the basement.  Are the ghost cat and the mummy one and the same?  Many visitors to the Fairport Harbor believe it is so.  Paranormal groups have come to the lighthouse and recorded voices and images.  In fact the Ghost Cat has had two local and five cable segments examine his past. The voice is believed to be that of Babcock's son Robbie.  The shadowy images of a feline lend credence to the eerie legend of the Ghost Cat.  The mummified cat, Sentinel remains on display in his lighthouse keeper's home to this day.

As current curator and volunteer FHHS President at the lighthouse, I can't say it's haunted because I have never personally seen the ghost cat.  But there are visitors here who say that they disagree..

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