Is Absecon Lighthouse Haunted?

Absecon Lighthouse

From vivid apparitions to Jersey Devil sightings, this New Jersey lighthouse is steeped in mystery

Ghost Stories of
Absecon Lighthouse

  • The lighthouse is known for a sighting of the Jersey Devil 
  • Ghostly voices have been heard in the lighthouse tower 
  • Visitors and workers have claimed to see apparitions around the lighthouse 
  • Strange smells of cigar smoke have been encountered 
  • Unexplained electrical malfunctions have been reported
  • Phantom footsteps have been heard  
  • Shadowy figures have been captured in photos taken at the lighthouse 

Illuminating History of
Absecon Lighthouse

Amongst the high rise resorts of Atlantic City, there is something else looming over the city blocks: Absecon Lighthouse.

At over 160 years old and 170 feet tall, Absecon is New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse and Atlantic City’s oldest building. The black and white tower spent decades protecting sailors off the New Jersey coast, but has been a public museum since 1999.

The lighthouse and keeper’s quarters now serve as a pathway through the region’s maritime past. Absecon Lighthouse is a popular local attraction, with countless tourists hiking up the lighthouse steps each year.

But, some say ghosts are walking the stairs with them. Are these lighthouse spirits the specters of former keepers, or souls lost to shipwrecks in the nearby sea?

Timeline of Absecon Lighthouse's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Absecon Lighthouse through the years

Phantom footsteps are often heard up and down the lighthouse stairs – could it be the ghost of a lightkeeper?


Through the 1840s and 1850s, New Jersey resident Jonathan Pitney noted a troubling trend. In the seas around what would soon be Atlantic City, shipwrecks were becoming more common. Pitney pressured Congress for aid in building a lighthouse.

Unfortunately, tragedy had to strike before anyone would listen. In 1854, immigrant ship Powhatan ran aground off Atlantic City. Hundreds died in the disaster, and it proved to be the push Congress needed. Construction began in 1855.

Absecon lighthouse sees thousands of tourists each year, and some have reported ghostly encounters


First light came to Absecon Lighthouse in 1857. The looming lighthouse featured a powerful Fresnel lens that could cast light almost 20 nautical miles. Overnight, the treacherous waters around Atlantic City became much safer to navigate. While it couldn’t stop every shipwreck, Absecon surely saved countless ships and lives since it first beamed to life.

But, erosion soon came for the lighthouse. By the 1870s, shore crept close to the tower. Workers built jetties in 1876 to help keep the beach from drifting away.


The jetties were supported with sand and the shoreline was restored throughout the 1880s and 1890s. But elsewhere, new developments threatened Absecon’s future. As the 20th century dawned, Atlantic City grew rapidly. Homes, businesses, and traffic inched ever closer to the lighthouse’s glow.

By the early 1930s, urban development and the light of the city left Absecon Lighthouse far less useful. Officials decommissioned the tower in 1933. After over 75 years of lighting the shores, the tower’s bright beam went dark.


In the years that followed, Atlantic City continued to grow. Absecon sat in quiet limbo for much of this period. The light was relit only briefly in 1954 and 1963 for celebrations. But while the lighthouse seemed forgotten, this was far from the truth. In 1971, the tower was honored with a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

And in the early 1990s, groups around the city started paying attention to the lighthouse. Plans were drawn up in 1994 for a fundraising drive to restore Absecon Lighthouse.

The historic Absecon Lighthouse is rumored to be haunted by both spectral soldiers and former lightkeepers


For the rest of the decade, local groups worked hard to bring Absecon back to its old glory. By 1997, work was well underway on the tower. Additionally, a new, recreated keeper’s house in the works. And despite the keeper’s house being lost to fire the following year, work continued. The lighthouse opened to the public in 1999 as a historic museum and attraction.

The rebuilt keeper’s house opened in 2001, and the property has greeted thousands of visitors ever since. And some of those visitors have left Absecon swearing they’ve seen ghosts in the lighthouse.

Shadowy figures reportedly lurk in the historic Absecon Lighthouse

Is Absecon Lighthouse Haunted?

Ghost stories are common around Absecon Lighthouse. However, no one quite knows where the spirits came from. Some suggest that the specters are the residual energy of old lighthouse keepers.

Others say the hauntings of Absecon come from the people killed in shipwrecks in the nearby seas, before the lighthouse was there to guide them. But no matter where they come from, the ghosts seem to enjoy leaving signs of their presence.

Voices from above and footsteps below, Absecon Lighthouse's ghosts make themselves known

The Tower’s Ghostly Sounds

Unexplained sounds are common reports around the lighthouse. Workers and visitors alike have heard voices echoing from up at the top of the tower. But, when they ascend the steps, they find themselves alone at the peak. And with only one way up and down, where could the voices have come from?

Alongside the odd voices, phantom footsteps have been heard going up and down the tower’s many stairs. Elsewhere in the building, ghostly laughter and even disembodied baby cries have been heard.

Strange Smells and Shadow Figures

Phantom smells are frequently encountered at Absecon. The most common report is the stench of tobacco smoke around the tower and keeper’s quarters.

Electrical malfunctions have also been experienced at the lighthouse. In one noted instance, a cash register repeatedly broke down without known cause. During this, the register’s digital display reportedly showed the word: ‘Ghost.’

Apparitions are also regular sights around the property. While some are seen just as shadows, others are spotted much more vividly.

In one instance, a worker entered the old oil house and came face-to-face with a bearded man in coveralls. The man vanished in an instant, leaving the worker sure they’d seen a ghost.

Spectral Soldiers at Absecon Lighthouse?

Spirits of Civil War soldiers have also reportedly been seen. However, Absecon Lighthouse didn’t play a major role in the Civil War, or any war of the era. The identity of these figures remains mysterious.

Witnesses who have seen these figures say they are often simply wandering, like they’re lost. Other shadow figures have also been reported both inside the buildings and out on the grounds.

Photogenic Phantoms at The Lighthouse

Some people have reportedly captured images of the shadow figures around Absecon. In one well-known instance, a photo was taken of the passage to the lighthouse stairwell. In it, there appear a pair of legs descending the steps, but apparently no one was in the tower at the time of the photo.

Could this have been an image of the specter so often heard trekking up and down the lighthouse’s many steps? Numerous other purported ghostly images have been taken around the property since.

Absecon Lighthouse and
The Jersey Devil

While many Absecon ghost stories come from recent encounters, spooky stories have swirled around the tower for years. One of the oldest claims comes from 1905, and while it isn’t about ghosts, it is certainly supernatural.

The tale goes that one night, a lighthouse keeper stepped out to see a strange creature atop the tower. After taking a shot at it with their gun, the creature howled, and then flew off into the night. While mystery remains about what this creature was, the description given fits a very popular regional legend: The Jersey Devil.

Haunted Happenings at
Absecon Lighthouse

Absecon Lighthouse continues to see success as a preserved historic attraction today. While its height has long since been dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers, the tower’s respected past helps it stand tall still today.

And while you can’t book a formal ghost hunt at the lighthouse, they do offer regular tours and tower climbs. They even offer some overnight educational programs. At Halloween, it also hosts tours that allow a closer look at the lighthouse’s haunted history.

While ghosts are just part of the attraction, the lighthouse’s claims have seen greater interest in recent years. From news reports to an appearance on SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, the phantoms of Absecon have gained a reputation all their own.

So, it seems apparitions will be a cornerstone of the Absecon experience for a while to come. And if you visit, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to capture a ghostly image for your camera roll…or experience your own sighting of the Jersey Devil.