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Execution Rocks Lighthouse

Execution Rocks Lighthouse paranormal

Location submitted by: sdonley on 12/31/2010
DBA Approved: Y

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PANICd#: 1010

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Built in 1809, Sands Point Light is situated close to Execution Rocks, but proved ineffective at warning mariners of the danger in heavy fog or stormy weather.

Nassau County
Long Island , NY
Open to the public: Unknown

Lat: 40.8781
Lon: -73.73768

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 5
History: 2
Stories: 1
Claims: 3
Evidence: 0
Resources: 1
Retrievals: 8828
Vistor Rating: 5.0
Votes: 1

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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.

Built in 1809, Sands Point Light is situated close to Execution Rocks, but proved ineffective at warning mariners of the danger in heavy fog or stormy weather. In 1837, Congress appropriated $5,000 for "a revolving or double light upon the south side of Execution Rocks." Inspectors examined the site and reported that the allocated amount would be insufficient for a lighthouse, but perhaps a "light-boat" could be deployed nearby instead. This triggered some discussion of whether the appropriation applied to a lightship, but the point was moot as the funding was inadequate for a lightship as well.

A decade later, on March 3, 1847, $25,000 was appropriated to build a lighthouse directly on the reefs. The architectural design was granted to Alexander Parris, who, after reviewing the area, selected a site. However, local mariners argued for a different site, and the Lighthouse Board sent out an independent body to study the issue. They ended up recommending yet another site for the proposed lighthouse. Parris insisted that construction at this site would cost four to five times more than at the site he had originally selected. The lighthouse was eventually built at the site first proposed by Parris - the largest exposed rock on the reef.

The construction contract went to the lowest bidder, Thomas Butler, who proved to be less than capable. Subcontractors did the majority of the work, and the lighthouse was completed almost one year behind schedule.

The light went into service in 1850, and was tended by Daniel L. Caulkins, who retained his previous position as keeper of the Sands Point Light as well. The Execution Rocks Lighthouse rises 58 feet above sea level, and tapers from 26 feet in diameter at the base to 13 feet in diameter at the top. The original lighting apparatus consisted of 13 lamps with red shades set in reflectors. The red coloring distinguished the light from the white light of Sands Point. In 1856, the light was refitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens.

Initially, there was no keepers’ dwelling at the rocks, though one of Caulkins’ assistants did live at the rock with his wife in the base of the tower. On April 1, 1851, William Craft took over as headkeeper, and both he and his assistant lived in the tower on the rock. Despite the tight quarters, it would be another 16 years, before a keepers’ dwelling was erected in 1867. The two-and-a-half story dwelling was constructed of granite blocks and connects to the tower. Originally painted white, the Execution Rocks Lighthouse received its distinctive brown band in 1895. A concrete oil house was added sometime between 1910 and 1920.

Dense fog surrounded the station on December 8, 1918. Keeper Peter Forget had been running the fog signal since 7:00 a.m., when shortly after noon, he decided to take a lunch break. He noticed the engine that provided power to the light and foghorn was running slower then normal and decided to check it out. As he opened the door to the engine house, a wall of flames greeted him. He immediately radioed a distress signal, and New York City's fireboat ‘Cornelius W. Lawrence’ was soon dispatched.

Before aid arrived, the keepers, armed with buckets and fire extinguishers, courageously fought the blaze. They were soon helped by Navy patrol boats, and soldiers from Fort Slocum, who had jumped into rowboats when they received the call. Just in the nick of time, the troops removed barrels of kerosene from a storage unit on the verge of being consumed by the inferno.

The lighthouse, though singed, survived the blaze.

Fire came again in 1921, when an overheated exhaust pipe set the engine room’s roof on fire. This time, only minor damage was incurred, including smoke damage to the lens and clockworks.

The lighthouse remained manned until December 5, 1979, when it was refitted with a white flashing modern optic. Sightings of ghosts on the rocks have occasionally been reported, but USCG Keeper Stan Fletcher, who retired from Execution Rocks in 1970, reassured folks that he never shared the place with a ghost. Nowadays, the only earthly visitor to the Execution Rocks Lighthouse is an occasional Coast Guard attendant performing routine maintenance.

In May of 2007, the Execution Rocks Lighthouse was excessed by the Coast Guard and offered to eligible entities through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. Historically Significant Structures was the only organization to submit an application, and in January of 2009, the group received the deed for the lighthouse from the federal government. Efforts are underway to raise $1.2 million and turn Execution Rocks into the first Long Island lighthouse to allow regularly scheduled overnight stays.

Hector Barsali took advantage of the first public tour of Execution Rocks offered in early July of 2009 by its new owners. A resident of nearby Bayside, Barsali served as a Coast Guard keeper at Execution Rocks in 1961. Barsali recalls that the station was staffed by five men, with three on and two off. "It's very nostalgic for me," remarked Barsali. "I'm a little choked up."


Added by: sdonley on 12/31/2010 DB#:10

 Here is a general video of the lighthouse that I found on YouTube that shows you all around the property.


Added by: sdonley on 12/31/2010 DB#:11


Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.

What’s there not to like about lighthouses? Most have a majestic beauty about them and a link to 100’s of years of history. Let’s not forget that the majority have a few ghost tales attached to them as well. Some involve a past lighthouse keeper who is still carrying out their duties and some involve an accidental death but not many have the history that Execution Rocks has which makes it one of the most haunted places in America.

The Execution Rocks Lighthouse is located about a mile off the coast of New Rochelle, NY in the west end of the Long Island Sound. The name itself has a popular, yet based in folklore, story behind it. The British regime in America started to avoid public execution of the Colonials fearing it would spark the spirit of the new Americans and push them closer to a revolution. Instead they took the condemned prisoners out to the reefs at low tide and chained them to the rocks. They would them watch them drown slowly as the tide came in.

To make it even worse, it is said that the old bodies were left there so the newly condemned had the added horror of looking at old skeletons still chained to the rocks. Again this story, though horrific, has not been linked to any historical records but one of the claims of the island is that these condemned prisoners got their revenge years later during the Revolutionary War when a ship of British soldiers were sent after George Washington, the ship sunk near the rocks and no soldier survived.

Another story, maybe a little more ordinary, is that many ships on their way to Manhasset Bay where run aground on the reef and making the ships “executed” on the rocks. The lighthouse at Sands Point was not sufficient to warn ships around Execution Rocks so in 1847; Congress approved $25,000 to build a lighthouse right on the reef, it was first lit in 1850.

The lighthouse keepers lived in the base of the lighthouse until a keepers house was built in 1867. The lighthouse survived two rather minor fires in 1918 and in 1921. It went totally automatic in 1979 and in 2007 the Coast Guard offered the lighthouse to entities under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 and in 2009 the Historically Significant Structures organization received the deed for the lighthouse. Currently they are trying to raise funds and turn Execution Rocks into the first Long Island lighthouse to offer overnight excursions.

Another gruesome connection to the lighthouse is that of serial killer Carl Panzram. In the early 20’s, Panzram turned a .45 colt revolver stolen from a burglary into a killing spree that ended up with rocks being tied to bodies and dumped about 100 yards from the Execution Rock lighthouse. Panzram himself claimed to kill 21 people and was truly an evil and unremorseful human being. He was once quoted after killing and 12 year old boy, “….I am not sorry. My conscious doesn’t bother me. I sleep sound and have sweet dreams.”

Though the last lighthouse keeper, who retired in 1970, claims he never saw a ghost, paranormal activity claims such as apparitions, footsteps, voices and strange sounds have been reported by many who pass by the lighthouse as well as many US Coast Guard personnel who took night shifts there until the automation was finished. 

Added by: sdonley on 01/30/2011 DB#:1027

Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact, and we will review and add your information.

Claim # Added Added By Claim
1216 01/30/2011 sdonley Apparitions have been seen throughout the lighthouse and the grounds.
1217 01/30/2011 sdonley Footsteps have been heard throughout the lighthouse when nobody was in it.
1218 01/30/2011 sdonley Voices and cries have been heard by those passing the lighthouse by boat.

Paranormal Evidence

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Additional Resources

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Wikipedia Entry
Added: 12/31/2010 By: sdonley
The Wikipedia entry for this location.

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