St. Simons Lighthouse
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Spirit of long ago murder victim haunts lighthouse tower!

Lighthouses dot the Southern coastline, but few are as beautiful or accessible as the St. Simons Lighthouse on St. Simons Island.

The distinctive white tower was constructed during the 1870s to replace an earlier structure and is still in use today. The lighthouse and adjacent keeper's cottage are preserved by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society.

The lighthouse site has been important for centuries. General James Oglethorpe, Georgia's founder, built Fort St. Simons here in 1738 to help defend Georgia against Spanish attack. The English evacuated the post four years later as a Spanish fleet and army approached from Florida.

Spain then used the fort as a base for its operations against Fort Frederica. The plan to lay siege to that post came to an end at the Battles of Gully Hole Creek and Bloody Marsh and the Spanish withdrew from St. Simons Island. Fort St. Simons was left in ruins.

Some three-quarters of a century later, the point on the southern tip of the island where Fort St. Simons had stood was selected by the U.S. Government for a lighthouse. John Couper, a plantation owner, deeded four acres at Couper's Point for the project.

Built by James Gould, the first tower was an octagonal structure built of tabby (a form of concrete made from oyster shell, lime and sand). It stood 85-feet tall from the base of the tower to the top of the lantern and was lit by oil lamps. Gould was appointed its first keeper in April 1810.
The sally port or main gate of Fort Jackson welcomes visitors today, but in times of war muskets and cannons defended it from enemy attack.

The assistant was arrested and tried for Osborne's death, but was acquitted after the jury heard the facts of the case.  Since that time, however, people have reported seeing Osborne's ghostly figure in and around the lighthouse.

You can read more about the ghost story by clicking here.

The St. Simons Lighthouse and adjacent museum are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 1:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Sundays. The last tour is at 4:30 p.m.

The lighthouse is located at 610 Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island, Georgia.  It can also be accessed from Neptune Park which links the lighthouse with the pier and Village area on St. Simons.

Admission is charged for adults and children over 5. Check current prices and hours by visiting the official website: St. Simons Lighthouse.

When visiting the lighthouse, be sure to check out the nearby sculpture dedicated to the North Atlantic Right Whale. It portrays a mother and calf surfacing in the waters off St. Simons Island and is a favorite with both 
children and adults.

The heavy cannon on the gun platform of the fort defended Savannah during the War of 1812 and Civil War.
British troops launched a raid on St. Simons Island during the closing days of the War of 1812. The adjacent Couper Plantation was looted, but no major damage was done to the lighthouse itself.

War returned to St. Simons Island in 1861 when Georgia seceded from the Union. The strategic location of the lighthouse led Confederate forces to build an earthwork fort on the grounds. They named it Fort Brown and occupied the work until General Robert E. Lee ordered the evacuation of the coastal islands in early 1862. As the Confederates withdrew, they destroyed the original tower to prevent it being used by Union forces.

The current St. Simons Lighthouse was completed in 1872. Designed by Charles 
Cluskey, a noted architect, it is 104 feet tall and remains in use today. Cluskey also designed the adjacent keeper's dwelling, also completed in 1872.

From bottom to top, it takes a strenuous climb of 129 steps to climb the 104 foot tower, but the view from the catwalk is definitely worth the effort. The catwalk around the top of the tower provides visitors with a spectacular panorama of the "Golden Isles" and Atlantic Ocean.

The beautiful tower on St. Simons Island is the centerpiece of a fascinating Georgia ghost story.

According to the legend, the St. Simons Lighthouse is haunted by the restless spirit of Frederick Osborne, one of its former keepers. Osborne was shot and killed by an assistant after he allegedly made "improper remarks" to his assistant's wife.
A soldier of the War of 1812 provides a living history demonstration of loading and firing a musket of the era to visitors at Fort Jackson.
Fort .
The rear walls of Fort Jackson were added in the 1840s-1850s to secure the main battery against land attack. The surrounding moat was added at the same time along with barracks and other structures.

Click the play button below for a quick video introduction to Old Fort Jackson: