On the coast of Florida, where the Tolomato and Matanzas Rivers spill out into the unforgiving waters of the Atlantic, stands one of America’s oldest and most haunted structures: the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Standing 164 feet tall, nestled on the northern edge of Anastasia Island since the mid 1500s, this lone sentry has seen its fair share of history—for better or for worse. From the colonization of the Americas, to the Hundred Years’ War, to the birth of a nation and its subsequent divide, the St. Augustine Lighthouse has stood watch, year after year, through plagues and power struggles, as a beacon of hope in the darkness.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is visited by more than 216,000 people annually, but it’s just as well-known for its otherworldly guests. Several tragic events that occurred at the now-historic site have contributed to the alleged paranormal activity. The ghost of a lighthouse keeper who fell to his death while painting the tower has been spotted watching over the grounds. And ever since the horrific death of three young girls, who drowned when the cart they were playing in broke and fell into the ocean, visitors have claimed to hear the sounds of children playing in and around the lighthouse. On July 10, 1873, the three Pittee sisters, Mary (15), Eliza (13), and Carrie (4), along with an unknown African-American girl (10), whose father may have worked on the site, were riding in the cart as normal.
The wooden board that stopped the cart from going into the water was not in place. The cart carrying the girls flipped into the water, trapping the girls underneath. Mr. Dan Sessions, a young African-American worker, witnessed the tragic event and raced to the water. When he reached the cart, using all his strength, he lifted it from atop the girls. By this time, three of the four girls had drowned; the only survivor was the youngest, Carrie. In the days after the accident, the construction site as well as the town shut down for the funeral of the girls. Following the funeral, the Pittee family returned to Maine to lay their daughters to rest in their hometown. Staff researchers have not yet been able to find the final resting place of the young African American girl.