The lighthouse, located on Anastasia Island, stands 165 feet with a spiraling black and white design, and is topped with a bright-red lantern room. At night, the light shines a steady beam with a flash every 30 seconds, illuminating parts of the Matanzas River and the Atlantic Ocean.
At the top of a grueling 219 step spiral staircase is an epic view of St. Johns and surrounding counties. But, most spectators don’t realize while they’re taking in the view, they’re being viewed by the ghosts of three girls.
The girls drowned in an 1873 accident while the lighthouse was under construction.
Handcarts helped transport material from a ship to the lighthouse. Four siblings and their family’s servant were playing on a cart when the cable snapped, catapulting them into the water. The cart trapped two sisters and the family servant at the bottom of the Matanzas River.
Eliza Pittee, 15, and her younger sister Mary, 12, were the daughters of project manager Hezekia, and were two of the victims that day. The third victim was the servant who is only described as a young African American girl.
The two survivors were Edward Pittee, 8, and his 4-year-old sister Carrie.
The lighthouse does a Dark of The Moon Tour, which Lead Tour Guide Matt Hladik said is a real paranormal investigation. Hladik said tour encounters have been things like: the silhouette of the person on the steps, the smell of cigar smoke and singing. But, the freakiest thing happened to Hladik when he was sitting on a bench outside of the lighthouse.
“Right through the middle of the door a transparent hand reached out towards me,” he said.
Hladik said there have been other deaths and spotting of other ghosts, like the lighthouse keeper who plummeted 60 feet to his death, but the account of the three young and their spirits sighting are much more documented. Hladik said that in his years of touring nothing has been malicious, but time will tell.
Photo credit of ghosts: Dark of the Moon Tour
Lighthouse: Google images/St. Augustine Lighthouse