Long Island, New York is a densely populated island and it is famous for its wineries and towns that are full of upscale homes, trendy restaurants, and antique shops.
Whenever you are in the area, there are a lot of things to do like go to the beach, visit an area where there are outdoor sculptures, or maybe splurge on the finer things in life because Long Island is actually one of the most expensive places to live in.
An aerial shot of the Hamptons in Long Island. (Link: https://www.discoverlongisland.com/)
If you don’t really want to spend a lot and just want to experience something new, you better head on over to Stratford Shoal Lighthouse. This is said to be haunted by the spirit of one of the former keepers.
Stratford Shoal Lighthouse as seen in an old photo. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/356699232965915907/?lp=true)
History Of Stratford Shoal Lighthouse
Stratford Shoal Light or Stratford Shoal (Middle Ground) Light is a lighthouse in the middle of Long Island Sound. It is located halfway between Port Jefferson in New York and Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Back in 1614, Adriaen Block was the first European to explore Long Island Sound during his voyage. He identified two low islands below the surface of the water. Initially, a shoal was used to mark the north and south ends of the islands for navigation purposes. By 1831, Congress appropriated $1,000 for the construction of a warning beacon. Next, the Congress spent $10,00 for a floating light, which wash 73 feet long and weighed 100 tons. It had lanterns on each of its masts and a hand-operated bell and foghorn. The floating light was then taken to the southeastern edge of the Stratford Shoal on January 12, 1838. Eight days later, however, it drifted off. It was impossible for the lightship to stay in its station even if it was anchored so by 1877, the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse was completed.
A photo showing the construction of the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse. (Link: https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=792)
Around $125,000 was used for the project and the construction started in 1872. There was a delay, however, because of a winter stone. No lives were lost during this time but it delayed the activation of the lighthouse.
The Stratford Shoal Lighthouse was built with huge blocks of granite. It stands 19 feet tall and the architecture is said to be of Gothic influence.
The lighthouse became automated in 1970. It is currently active and still aids navigators to this day.
The Ghosts Of Stratford Shoal Lighthouse
The Stratford Shoal Lighthouse was so isolated that there was a quick turnover of keepers. The head keeper usually had two assistants. The visitors at the island were also urged to bring the keepers newspapers so that they have an idea what is already happening in the mainland.
The isolation may have driven at least one assistant keeper mad because many reports claimed that the keepers developed psychological issues after staying at the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse. In 1905, Julius Koster, the Second Assistant Keeper was left behind with First Assistant Morrell Hulse while the head keeper went ashore to gather supplies. Koster and Hulse reportedly got into a fight and Koster was a bit unstable mentally. He then lunched at Hulse with a razor. Hulse avoided the razor and tried to persuade Koster to put the razor down and Hulse succeeded.
Julius Koster in an undated photo. (Link: http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net/stratford-shoal-light-history.html)
Days later, however, Koster locked himself in a room with an axe. He stopped the rotation of the light and threatened to smash it. He also said he will kill himself. Hulse persuaded Koster once again to stop with the threats. Hours after, Koster emerged from the room. Hulse wanted to talk to Koster but instead Koster jumped off of the tower and into the water. Hulse dove in and rescued Hoster. He then tied Koster at the lighthouse tower for two days because he feared for both of their lives. Koster was later transported to a sanitarium in New York and later brought back home. That was where he succeeded in killing himself.
It is believed that Koster’s spirit went back to the lighthouse and he throws tantrums there to this day. Many keepers and coast guardsmen claimed that they witnessed doors slamming in the middle of the nights, chairs were thrown across the room and against the walls, and posters were ripped down. Also, hot pans of water have allegedly been flung onto the floor from the stove.
Despite the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse being automated, local mariners still claim they heard banging noises, grinding noises, and other loud sounds. Koster is believed to be causing all these noises.
The Sound Of Muffled Bells At The Stratford Shoal Lighthouse
Another incident that is said to be the reason for the mystical music heard in the area of the lighthouse pertains to a ship full of bells that sank.
A ship called Trustful reportedly sank before the lighthouse was built. The ship was loaded with church bells. A major storm was approaching before the ship set sail out of Bridgeport and the crew already wanted to stay on land and let the storm pass. The captain was already notified of the plans of the crew but the crew members were told that they would continue with their voyage. Eventually, the ship did sink and drowned all those on board.
Mariners have since claimed that whenever they approached the shoal and the weather was not good, the sound of church bells could be heard.
Stratford Shoal Lighthouse Is Not Open To The Public
The Stratford Shoal Lighthouse is not open to the public. There are also a few boats that go out there because of its remote location. However, if you really want to go there, the Maritime Aquarium offers a lighthouse tour during the summer.
Stratford Shoal Lighthouse today. (Link: http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net/stratford-shoal-lighthouse.html)
If you aren’t interested in going to the tour since the tour also includes visiting four other lighthouses, you may see the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse from a distance at the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport Ferry.