Three Men Vanished from a Lighthouse, Nobody Knows Why
How do you imagine a lighthouse keeper’s job? Probably like an introvert’s paradise: you’re alone on a rock in the middle of the sea, looking out at the raging waves and keeping the light on. But lack of people around has its downside too: no one will know if something happens to you. And that was exactly the case with the keepers of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse…
It was a fine and calm day on December 15, 1900. In such weather conditions, lighthouses aren’t crucial for the safety of passing ships. But still, it was unusual for the Archtor, a steamer passing by the Flannan Isles on its way from Philadelphia, to notice that the lighthouse on Eilean Mor was not operational.
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Dead silence 1:33
Signs that the keepers went out in a hurry 3:20
Weirdest things 4:26
What was the last entry about 5:42
Did the keepers go crazy? 6:27
The official version of the events 7:14
Gaps in this theory 8:35
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- The lighthouse had been manned by three people: James Ducat and Thomas Marshall, the regular keepers, and Donald MacArthur, the occasional who was then substituting for another keeper on sick leave.
- It was ominously quiet on the island. The lighthouse stood dark and lifeless, only seagulls keeping it company.
- There was no sign of the keepers, not even a trace left. Both the main gate and the entrance door to the lighthouse were closed, the beds were unmade, and most eerily, all the clocks stopped.
- Muirhead found the lighthouse logbook that the men kept until their disappearance — that is, about dinner time of December 15. On December 12, Thomas Marshall wrote that there were severe winds the likes of which he’d never seen in twenty years.
- The log implied that the three men were terrified, which was, again, very strange since they were experienced keepers and knew they were safe inside the lighthouse.
- But perhaps the most unsettling of this all was the fact that there were no storms on the 12th, 13th, or 14th of December in the area. The log said, however, that the skies finally cleared only on the morning of December 15. And that was the last entry.
- s soon as the news reached the mainland, wild theories from all corners of the UK started popping to the surface. Not the least popular of those was that the men had gone insane, which was not out of the question considering the logbook entries.
- Other theories were much less credible and speculated on anything and everything from supernatural activity to secret government operations, although why the government would be interested in eliminating three lighthouse keepers at the end of the world remained unclear.
- According to the entries in the lighthouse logbook, the damage to the western landing had been done before the men’s disappearance. So they had witnessed the mayhem but had not, in fact, gone out into it.
- Since 1900, many more theories have been born, including freak waves washing away one of the men and the others being swept away while helping him.
- But whatever hypotheses, credible or nonsensical, were given, none of them have given us any clue as to what really happened to the three bold men from Eilean Mor.
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Thriller film tells dark mystery of three real life vanished lighthouse keepers - News 247
For centuries, the rocky island was only approached with fear and trepidation. Hebridean shepherds ferried their sheep over to graze on the rich green pasture, but refused to stay a night. When the waves crashed violently against the craggy cliffs, rain lashed and gale-force winds screeched across the Scottish island of Eilean Mor in the Flannan Isles, it was very easy to believe in the supernatural. Some said an eerie aura proved the uninhabited island was haunted by spirits, “little people” and fairy folk. Some said it was the ghosts of shipwrecked sailors, or the terrifying Phantom of the Seven Hunters, which lured men over the cliffs to their death. Others said it was home to the Devil himself. It juts out of the stormiest part of the Atlantic, making its lighthouse a literal lifesaver for passing ships. The only man-made structure on the island, bar a tumbledown church, it’s now only known as the location of one of Britain’s greatest mysteries. The year was 1900 and inside the lighthouse’s whitewashed stone walls, three men lived and worked, doing their very best to ignore any local superstitions. If their gas lanterns flickered, kitchen pans jangled and hairs on their skin rose, that would surely be only the drafts from the howling gales. Donald MacArthur, James Ducat and Thomas Marshall were used to such wild conditions and paid to brave them. All three were experienced lighthouse keepers and this posting, on the largest of the Flannan Isles, in the Outer Hebrides, was a job they needed to feed their families back on the mainland. As always, on the morning of December 14, 40-year-old Donald, James, 44, and Thomas, 39, chalked the blackboard to log the jobs they’d completed – the lamp was trimmed, the oil fountains filled and the giant lenses cleaned. After lunch and steaming hot mugs of tea, the dishes were scrupulously washed. Then, all three simply vanished, no trace of them ever to be seen or heard of again. Just like the thick fog which drifts in so perilously fast in these parts, nothing is clear about their fate. Whatever did happen to them, stories have been passed down through generations and been immortalised in books, poems and even a song by Genesis. Now, a new film starring Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan and Connor Swindells, uses the Flannan Isles lighthouse enigma as the basis for a psychological thriller called The Vanishing. It weaves together temporary insanity, greed and murder for a dark and bloody explanation of what might have happened. The characters in the film share the same names as the three missing men. But what is really known of the real-life story behind the trio’s disappearance? “The truth is, nobody really knows what happened,” says Keith McCloskey, who researched the story extensively for his book The Lighthouse: The Mystery of the Eilean Mor Lighthouse Keepers. He says: “That’s why generations have been so fascinated. We do know reports of finding an unfinished meal on the kitchen
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