The Strange and Abnormal: The unnerving vanishing of the Eilean Mor lighthouse keepers

Ava Ferrigno, Features Editor

Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the lighthouse. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. That was because the three lighthouse keepers who were supposed to be on duty for that cold winter in 1900 were nowhere to be found.

Captain James Harvey and replacement lighthouse keeper Joseph Moore were headed towards the Flannan Islands—which were uninhabited except for the three keepers Thomas Marshall,  James Ducat, and William McArthur—in a small ship. Shocked by the fact that none of the keepers were awaiting their arrival at the loading dock, Harvey honked his horn and shot up a flare in hopes of garnering their attention, but none of the men came down from the lighthouse.

Consequently, Moore traveled to the lighthouse himself in order to investigate. What he saw chilled him to his core. The door was left unlocked, and as he entered, he noticed that two of the three coats that normally resided on hooks were nowhere to be found. Upon further inspection, he found a half-eaten meal and a tipped over chair, and that the clocks had stopped. After alerting Harvey of what he had discovered, an island-wide search was initiated, but the men could not be found.

Upon further investigation, the men’s logbook was looked in to. On December 12th, Marshall wrote of “severe winds the likes of which I have never seen before in twenty years” and that Ducat was unusually quiet while MacArthur had been crying. On the 15th, someone had written “Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all.”

That was the last recorded entry.

This unsettled investigators for numerous reasons. For one, all of the keepers were seasoned mariners, so they would have known that they would have been safe in the newly constructed lighthouse and have been used to storms. Additionally, the storm they had written about had never happened. The seas were reported to have been calm during the 12th, 13th and 14th of December, which was further proven by the fact that people could still see the lighthouse from the nearby Isle of Lewis.

The majority of people theorize that the men were swept off to sea while fixing a crane that appeared to be broken, but I greatly disagree. First of all, there was no storm, so how would all three of the keepers fallen into the ocean while doing this. And say they had fallen, their bodies would have washed up on shore, which they didn’t. Also, only two of the men took their coats and one of them seemed to be in the middle of a meal and it was freezing; why would they all be in such a rush to fix a crane? To further disprove this scenario, a wobbly crane would not have caused the clocks to stop.

So why would these men lie about a storm and leave in such a hurry? I got to thinking that maybe they never wrote the entries and that another party was involved, kidnapping the men and taking them from the island. That would explain why the log contained false information of not only the weather, but also regarding the men’s characters, why no bodies were ever found, and why the chair was tipped over. But even that doesn’t explain why the coats were missing and the clocks were frozen. Also, why would some foreign party travel to an uninhabited island to kidnap or possibly murder some random lighthouse keepers?

None of it makes any sense…unless, naturally, the supernatural was involved. Some believe that aliens had a role, but what this whole situation reminds me of is that one Scooby Doo movie with the ghost pirates. The pirates would take over a ship or something like that and bring a huge fog with them. They would then abduct everyone, and, if I remember correctly, the clocks would later freeze. Of course, this is just a child’s movie, but the fact that it somewhat lines up with the Eilean Mor Lighthouse situation points out how truly odd the keepers’ disappearances were.

Whether the sea, foreign invaders, aliens, or ghost pirates are to blame, the poor men of the Eilean Mor Lighthouse will never be seen again.