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Haunted Dunkirk Lighthouse Investigation & Survey ~ Para-Road Trip

On June 29th, the Shadow Chasers traveled to Dunkirk, NY to investigate the reportedly haunted Dunkirk Lighthouse.

The site was notoriously haunted and well within driving distance. The team unanimously decided it would be worth our time and an investment to investigate one of America's most notoriously haunted locations.

History: Dunkirk Light, also known as Point Gratiot Light, is an active lighthouselocated at Point Gratiot on Lake Erie in New York state.

The lighthouse was established in 1826 and the current tower was first lit in 1875. The lighthouse was automated in 1960 and is still operational.

The foundation is made out of dressed stone and the lighthouse is made out of rubblestone encased in brick. The tower is a square shaped tower. The upper two thirds is white and the lower one third is natural and the lantern housing is red. The original lens is a third order Fresnel lens installed in 1857 and is still in operation. Its being still in use makes it a rarity. Only 70 such lenses are operational in the United States, 16 being on the Great Lakes of which two are in New York.

In 1875-1876, a 61-foot stone tower and a beautiful Victorian residence were constructed to replace the original tower, which was threatened by erosion. These structures still stand today. Bricks from the original keeper's house formed the foundation for the new house. The old cylindrical tower was moved adjacent to the new keeper's residence. A square tower was built around the old tower "to be more compatible with the keeper's house." (Tinney, Burdett-Watkins, p. 13; Seaway Trail Video)  

At the entrance to the park property is the South Buffalo North Side Light, formerly located in Buffalo Harbor. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Point Gratiot Lighthouse Complex in 1979.[WIkipedia]

Notable History

Military Parade Reservation Grounds - The Dunkirk Light ship is located on these grounds

War of 1812 - The first shot of the 1812 War was fired near the west bank of the lighthouse.

Civil War - Cpl. Cryus Jones of Dunkirk was the first soldier killed in the war. His resting grounds are located on the grounds.

WW II - Twelve active Coast Guard personnel were stationed at the lighthouse along with the lighthouse keeper. .

Shipwrecks - The waters of Lake Erie off Dunkirk have been the site of several notable shipwrecks.

  • The lake's first steamboat, the Walk-on-Water, was lost to a storm in 1818.
  • 1841 the Erie burned with the loss of 141 lives. The fire was blamed on painters who stored turpentine and varnish on the deck above the ship's boilers.
  • In 1893, the steamboat Dean Richmond, which carried sacks of meal, flour, copper sheet, and gold and silver bullion, sank off Dunkirk. Dunkirk residents salvaged hundreds of bags of damp flour after the wreck.
  • 1897, the freighter Idaho was lost. Some of its cargo of Christmas items, including slabs of chocolate, were recovered by the locals. (Roberts, Jones pp.29-30)

 [Dunkirk Lighthouse History]

Planning Phase: In most investigations you contact the proprietor and work with them to set up an ideal investigation date. The Dunkirk Lighthouse was quite a bit different. One of our contacts with another local team discussed doing an investigation at the site and said they were open to investigations. After inquiring, talking with the events coordinator for the Light we set up an investigation.

Despite a few miss-communications we eventually managed to establish a time and date for the 29th at 8PM-2AM. A few days before hand we verified the time and date with our contact. To help support the historic Lighthouse the team would provide a donation upon arrival.

Road Trip: We set out for Dunkirk at noon. Continuing on from there we discussed the history of the location and all of the reported activity from the site. Investigations by other ghost hunters and all of the teams that discussed the Dunkirk Lighthouse all claimed extensive history and activity on the site. We arrived in Dunkirk, NY at just after 6PM. Since we were were in unfamiliar territory, we decided to check in with the Light first. 
After dealing with some road construction that made navigating to the light rather confusing, we came up to the Dunkirk Lighthouse grounds. The gates were closed with a sign that stated the hours ended at 2 P.M. on Saturdays. Taking it on faith that our contact would be there, with the reassurance that we had their phone number, we opted to go out and grab dinner and go over our plans for the investigation based on our new information. Taking our ques from our investigation at Rolling Hills we decided that it would be best to forego any supplies and just head back to the Lighthouse.

On Site: We arrived about half an hour early and met with our contact who offered to give us a tour of the site and recount the history of the location. The first interesting piece of information that we learned was that the Lighthouse had received an unusual answering machine message. Our contact played an answering machine recording that the lighthouse had received recently. After checking with the phone company the staff said that this strange call was not recorded as any incoming call. Strangely enough, the local media reported that someone had just drowned near the light on the night of this bizarre message. We recorded a copy of the message for analysis.


Once the overview was out of the way, our contacts took us on a walk-through of the site explaining all of the related stories and areas of the Lighthouse that we would have access to throughout our investigation. We were informed that one of the Dunkirk Lighthouse attendants had been so dedicated to his work that they believed that he was still patroling the grounds. Aside from the Coast Guard boat and the basement of the Lighthouse, we would have complete access to the property.

Reviewing the activity for the lighthouse, staff ghost stories have reported a shadowy figure has been seen roaming the gring footsteps ounds surrounding the lighthouse as well as moving through the Lighthouse itself. Activity associated with the Attendant Apparition included hearing footsteps in the Lighthouse, feeling a a cold presence and even glimpsing a shadowy figure walking the grounds. It was believed by staff that the ghost was likely one of the support attendants for an early Lighthouse Caretakeer in the 1800's. Other reports described a young boy in period clothing that wanders the property and picks on Dunkirk Lighthouse staff and guests. The activity associated with this appaarition included feeling like a child was tugging on an individual's pants, hearing footsteps and moving objects, primarily objects associated with children like a ball or dolls. The staff believed that the ghost was one of the children that perished in 1841 with the Erie steam ship disaster. 

After an hour we learned all of the history, the noteworthy hotspots several trips from our cars to the Dunkirk Lighthouse gift shop we managed to get all of our gear on in place. We set up cameras throughout the entire Lighthouse including one on the walkway with the light angled so that it covered the entire grounds.
Investigation: We opened our investigation by dividing into two teams. Sean and Josh started with the Lighthouse light while Kate and Phil started on the first floor of the Caretaker's house. The investigation was fairly straight forward. Slowly the teams searched each room noting EM and ES anomalies and after several hours the teams re-grouped in the forward giftshop. Even with all of the equipment in place and a consistent survey strategy the investigation of the site was an immense task. We had yet to have any experiences or capture anything significant. Our contact told us that the two cameras on the second floor of the caretaker's house were fluctuating in and out of sync with the recording system. 

After some discussion we decided to run EVP sessions concurrently on the first and second floors moving room by room before trading floors. A few minutes into the first EVP session the entire team heard loud footsteps accompanied by a voice. Sean decided to utilize the ball as a trigger object and set it on the floor in a marked position where we could track it for movement. Without any further interactions, the teams resumed EVP sessions on the designated floors. During this time we managed to capture some activity, some interactions with the equipment and even captured several EVPs. Noting that the trigger object had not moved, Kate and Josh decided to see if they could get the child ghost to interact if they were rolling the ball back and forth between them. On the first roll, the ball veered wildly before slowly rolling over to Kate. Testing the process again revealed that the floor had an unusual wear pattern in the floor that was causing the odd behavior of the ball.

Continuing our investigation, we were able to document a number of audible phenomena that sounded like footsteps and voices that were coming from the second floor and the entry way into the Lighthouse proper. Our investigation was interrupted during a resupply at the giftshop as several members of the Lighthouse Historical Board showed up and inquired about the investigation. Loud bang noises that caught our attention were discovered to be fireworks that were being set off across the harbor. We waited until all of the fireworks had finished before continuing our investigation. 

After the fireworks we continued our investigation with additional EVP sessions and began ITC sessions. We received some responses on our equipment from the second floor of the Caretaker's house but recorded little activity. We did receive additional responses on the EMF ITC from the first floor rooms in regards to kids.
We regrouped and investigated a number of additional rooms with ITC sessions including a joint EVP and ITC session in the Lighthouse tower. A few responses were caught from the tower but activity seemed to be declining. Heading to the first floor kitchen attempted to capture interactions with the static monitors and ITC equipment. The most significant response was when we placed the PX across the room and asked for a response. The PX responded with several names and reactions to our questions but when we asked for a more significant response. We retreated back to the giftshop and retrieved some much needed caffeine and equipment while we discussed the next phase.
theshadowchasers's Dunkirk Lighthouse Investigation album on Photobucket
After deliberation we decided to perform another full sweep of the Caretaker's House and Lighthouse tower but this time we did not capture any more additional EVPs. We decided to focus on the property where we had also captured activity previously. As we caught a shadow figure moving past the staircase on the second floor. We were unable to capture any additional activity and most of our cameras were full with more than 9hours of video on each not counting the additional handhelds were were using.

The Wrap Up: Our investigation of Dunkirk Lighthouse concluded as we packed our equipment, headed out to the car and were invited back to investigate whenever we could come out again. The Shadow Chasers investigation of the Dunkirk Lighhouse was certainly an adventure. We captured a number of audible phenomena on multiple audio recorders and video. We captured a few interesting photographs and had a number of experiences. Would we want to go back and investigate the Dunkirk Lighthouse? The definitive answer is Absolutely. 

The Dunkirk Lighthouse was an impressive site to investigate and our host was great to work with on an investigation. Even though other Ghost Hunters had limited experiences and little evidence from their investigation our results showed the site was haunted.
 The Dunkirk Lighthouse is known for its history and more recently for its paranormal activity. It is a historic site with a long legacy and it has quite a bit of truth to the accounts. Experiencing the site is definitely a unique experience and quite limited opportunity. The close of this particular Paranormal Road Trip brought us from Dunkirk, NY near Buffalo back through an intense fog back home.

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