Friday, September 27, 2013

A Mysterious Lighthouse and A Cheerful Lighthouse

   I love learning about historical mysteries, and recently I learned about a new one: The Mystery of The Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers. There is something about the job of a lighthouse keeper that seems very romantic. The lighthouse keeper spends his days staring to sea and keeping boats safe from the dangers of treacherous waves and jagged rocks. It is a very isolated and lonely profession too. On the Flannan Isles, the lighthouse keepers worked in teams of three, with a fourth man who spent his time on shore so they could rotate duties and the men could all spend time with their families on shore when it was their turn. The most important duty of a lighthouse keeper is to keep the light shinning. The first sign of something strange happening on the island occurred when the captain of a passing boat looked toward Flannan Isles and the lighthouse and saw that there was no light. It was close to midnight when Captain Holman looked toward the island in expectation of light and saw nothing but bleak dark. Five day's after the first glimpse of the missing light, the relief  vessel arrived on shore. Usually, the lighthouse keepers would greet the ship when it moored. But the ship was greeted with only the sound of the waves and the gulls, probably making the absence of human life even more acute. The relief keeper went to investigate the lighthouse on his own. What he found there was unsettling. All of his fellow lighthouse keepers had vanished! The gates to the lighthouse were closed. Inside the lighthouse the beds were unmade and the clock was stopped. There was no sign of the lighthouse keepers. Inside the lighthouse, one chair was knocked over, providing a clue that led only to wild speculation and more uncertainties.
   The bodies of the lighthouse keepers were never discovered. Maybe they each left the lighthouse on three separate ships to three separate continents so they could start their lives over again with new names and identities. Maybe they were pulled into the sea by an angry sea serpent. Maybe they were overtaken by madness and they all jumped to their deaths. Maybe they were sucked into a parallel universe where there was no such things as lighthouses or lighthouse keepers, and they had to remake themselves into something different.
  I am not the only one who has come up with over-dramatic and unlikely theories about what happened to these three men. Theories about the vanished men include: ghosts, aliens, spies, giant sea birds, and that one of the men murdered the other two and then jumped into the sea. There is something about imagining three vanished lighthouse keepers on a isolated island. It is impossible not to imagine far-fetched and mysterious explanations.
  A more plausible explanation was put forth by the Northern Lighthouse Board of Investigation. They believed that due to stormy weather, the three men were all swept out to sea by an especially large wave. One hitch in this theory is that one man was always required to stay in the lighthouse. So who ever left the lighthouse last was ignoring important protocol. But, if he saw his two friends in peril and thought he could help, protocol wouldn't be much of a motivator to keep him inside. It is sad though to think of one of the men trying to rescue his friends and instead succumbing to the same fate. Two of the men left behind widows and children who would never find out what happened to their loved one.
(Here are links to where I got the info on Flannan Isles: Wikipedia and BBC)

    Speaking of lighthouses, here are some pictures from in and around a lighthouse themed roadside-restaurant. This light house is decidedly more cheerful, and decidedly more hokey (in a good way!)


Optimistic Existentialist said...

You know, seeing a lighthouse has always been on my bucket list. I must find one someday :)

Amber said...

Yeah, lighthouses are awesome! You should definitely go see one!