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Explore the Haunted Dunkirk and Oak Orchard Lighthouses

posted by Teresa Farrell at 2022-09-30 17:43:00

The weather’s getting cooler, but that’s not the only reason you might experience some goosebumps in Upstate New York this fall. With spooky season upon us, now is a perfect time to explore a haunted lighthouse and experience thrills and chills that have nothing to do with the thermometer dropping.

Chautauqua County is home to the Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, the lighthouse was built in 1827 to guide ships on Lake Erie safely into Dunkirk Harbor, and is still in use as a navigational beacon today. The original lighthouse tower itself lasted until 1875, when it was threatened by the elements and replaced with the 61-foot stone tower that stands on the site today. The 1875 renovation also added the Victorian-style keeper’s house, which today houses museum exhibits that enrich the experience of visiting the lighthouse and the area, highlighting the maritime history of Lake Erie and the purpose it still serves today. The on-site Veteran’s Park Museum features rooms of military artifacts and exhibits, all honoring veterans and their legacies.

Some say the connection to past wars is where the lighthouse’s haunted reputation got its start. The first shot of the War of 1812 was reportedly fired near the lighthouse site, and the first soldier killed in the Civil War, Cpl. Cyrus Jones, a Dunkirk native, is rumored to be buried on the lighthouse grounds as well.
In the fall, the lighthouse offers a chance to encounter its ghostly “inhabitants”—it regularly plays host to paranormal investigations, and ghost tours are so popular that they have become a regular feature at the lighthouse during the cooler months. You can schedule a tour during October weekends by visiting the lighthouse’s website.

There’s another Great Lakes lighthouse that’s worth a stop if you’re into all things Halloween as well.  In Point Breeze, near Rochester, sits the Oak Orchard lighthouse. Located on a point jutting out into Lake Ontario at the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek, this site was once home to one of the most important lighthouses on Lake Ontario. Built in 1871, it helped ships navigate along the southern coast of Lake Ontario and into a sheltered area during bad weather. But by the early 1900s, commerce in the area began to slow, and by May of1914, the lighthouse had been decommissioned. Eventually, heavy storms swept away both piers, and two days before Christmas in 1916, an especially intense winter storm ripped through and destroyed the lighthouse itself. It was rebuilt by a group of passionate volunteers in 2010, and has remained open to the public since.

Today, a short climb up a ladder affords access to the lantern room, along with panoramic views of Lake Ontario and the surrounding shoreline.

It’s a beautiful place to visit any time, but if you’re looking for something scary, make sure to go during one of the Historical Haunted Lighthouse weekends being held this year. Taking place on the last two Fridays and Saturdays of October, the free, family-friendly event will feature spooky decorations, ghost tales, and more for kids of all ages to enjoy.

Photo Credits:

- Aerial view photo credit Dunkirk Lighthouse
- Keepers house and museum photo credit Dunkirk Lighthouse
- Original Oak Orchard lighthouse photo credit US Coast Guard
- Oak Orchard Haunted History poster photo credit Oak Orchard Lighthouse

posted at: 2022-09-30 17:43:00, last updated: 2022-10-02 07:49:34

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