The Haunted Bolivar Lighthouse: Light After Death?
Located on Bolivar Peninsula
If you’re a geek for all things ghostly like I am, you’ve probably heard and read a ton of legends about hauntings at sea and hauntings along coastal installations like lighthouses. I remember being very young – maybe 10 or 12 - the first time I read about the haunted lighthouse of Saint Augustine in Florida, and about ghost ships like The Flying Dutchman.
Today, ghost fans, we’re going to talk about a nautical-type haunting right here in the great state of Texas: the haunted Bolivar lighthouse.
Down in South Texas is the town of Port Bolivar – it’s very close to Galveston, where most (if not all) Texans have probably gone on vacation once or twice.
So down in Port Bolivar, on the Bolivar Peninsula, stands the haunted Bolivar lighthouse. The location has been home to at least two lighthouses: the first structure, erected in 1852, was destroyed by Confederate forces during the Civil War. In fact, the metal from that structure is reported to have been used in constructing various pieces of equipment for the Confederate war machine.
In 1872, another lighthouse – the same one still standing today – was built on the peninsula. For 61 years, this lighthouse provided a vital signal to sea vessels navigating the area and was decommissioned on May 29, 1933. Not long after, the US Government sold the lighthouse and its outbuildings to a private citizen, whose family still owns it today, and unfortunately, it is not open to the public.
God knows there’s no shortage of ways to die at sea, especially back in the day: sailors could die of disease, mutiny, war, ending up lost or marooned, or even being murdered in their bunks. The unforgiving nature of the ocean as well as the potentially dangerous human natures of one’s shipmates made a sailor’s life anything but safe. As if those hazards weren’t enough, even coming back to port from the high seas could prove fatal if the ship couldn’t successfully navigate treacherous rock formations, sand bars, and weather conditions.
One of the few saving graces for sailors facing such dangers was the lighthouse. These were the guiding lights that saved - and continue to save - innumerable sailors from being pulverized on rocky outcroppings on pitch-black, moonless nights, or in raging, wailing storms. The lighthouse keepers put their own safety and well-being on the line to keep the lights in the towers, braving storms, fog, illness, and even personal tragedy to keep the beacons lit.
Given the purpose of the lighthouse and the history of the area, it’s not hard to imagine why there might be reports of strange and paranormal goings-on near the property and in the lighthouse on Port Bolivar.
First, as I previously mentioned, the original lighthouse structure from 1851 met its demise during the Civil War – which was and remains one of the bloodiest and most violent scars still on the collective American psyche. The Civil War over states’ rights to slavery literally pitted family members against each other on some of the bloodiest battlefields the world has ever known, and I think most paranormal researchers, investigators, and aficionados would probably agree that violence and intense emotion are prime ingredients in whatever mysterious formula creates a haunting.
Added to the shadow of the Civil War that touches this lighthouse location, the Bolivar Lighthouse also weathered what historians call the worst natural disaster of the United States thus far: the Galveston hurricane of 1900, also called The Great Storm. Winds of at least 126 miles per hour crushed houses and demolished buildings and crops, sweeping nearly the entire city of Galveston out to sea. The death toll is estimated between 6,000 and 12,000 lives lost. It should be noted that the lighthouse keeper at the time of the storm, Harry Claiborne, housed 125 souls in the lighthouse during the storm, and even sheltered and fed those survivors for a long period after the storm ended.
When a catastrophic natural disaster like the Great Storm hits, people die traumatic deaths while in states of intense mental, physical, and emotional suffering. Some may die of drowning or injury in the actual storm; others may die in the conditions that follow, like famine or disease from lost crops, mosquitoes, poor sanitary conditions, lack of medical care, etc.
Between the Civil War connection and the horrific carnage caused by The Great Storm of 1900, it seems the Bolivar Lighthouse is a prime candidate for paranormal activity. Who knows how many souls might be wandering the Bolivar peninsula mourning the horrific disaster that befell them? Or maybe they’re still fighting a war that ended over a hundred years ago….
Surprisingly, my reading about this location turned up relatively few recorded stories of paranormal activity around this historic landmark. The limited legends and claims that I found range from strange shadows seen on the lighthouse grounds and in the lightroom itself to mysterious mists and fogs erupting from the lighthouse during particularly nasty storms. One of the grislier stories associated with the allegedly haunted lighthouse is that of a young man rumored to have killed his parents on the property and then himself, but there is no historical data or record of any suspicious or criminal deaths on the property whatsoever.
I have to say, though, that one of the most fascinating pieces of information that I found while researching the haunted Bolivar lighthouse details the story of the weather forecasters who tracked the 1900 hurricane, at a time when this kind of weather forecasting was in its infancy. History.com has an article detailing the way human ego, jealousy, and pride may have prevented any kind of warning from going out to the citizens of Galveston, which further amplifies the horror around the astronomical death toll of the storm.
The article, which you can read here, tells the story of The Weather Bureau – precursor to the modern National Weather Service. Apparently, the director of The Weather Bureau, Willis Moore, felt very jealous of how skilled the Cubans had gotten in predicting hurricanes. When the Cubans issued their predictions and forecast for The Great Storm of 1900, Willis Moore disregarded their prediction on purpose and made a completely inaccurate and scientifically unsupported prediction purely out of pique.
Think about that for a second.
If old Willis Moore had swallowed his pride and done his job the way he should have, and the people of Galveston had been duly notified, it’s possible some of them might have evacuated and that means fewer senseless, traumatic deaths. Unfortunately, that is not what happened; Moore’s ego trip and immaturity cost the catastrophic loss of life and property that remains unparalleled in US history to this day.
I can tell you from my own experiences a psychic medium and energy healer that suffering a sudden, violent, or untimely death can keep a person’s consciousness or soul from moving to the next plane of existence. Some refer to these spirits as earthbound, meaning they remain in the 3D reality that living humans occupy, even though they’ve left their physical bodies.
Many who pass away in such traumatic circumstances don’t realize they’ve died. Sometimes they do not realize their suffering has ended and just keep reliving their painful last moments; for others, the death happened too quickly for them to process what happened and they wander, shell-shocked and confused. Still, others may simply be in a state of denial, hanging onto a life they didn’t want to give up – and certainly didn’t want to end in such a horrific way. Many other souls may refuse to cross over to the next place of existence because they are holding onto something – grudges, unresolved thoughts or emotions, a need to make amends or receive forgiveness, or even religious beliefs to name just a few.
Are there any earthbound spirits around the Bolivar lighthouse? Probably. Without tuning purposefully and intentionally into the energy of the land and the structure itself I couldn’t say for sure. I will say that while opening myself up to researching this topic and writing this blog post, I was bombarded with residual energy from a hurricane and a man walking to and from a lighthouse. Was it the Great Storm of 1900, was it Harry Claiborne? Maybe. I pray that if there are any lingering spirits in Galveston and the Bolivar lighthouse, that they will find peace. God knows they’ve been through enough.
FOLLOW GHOST TEXAS