Lighthouse Tales

Top Historic Lighthouse Collisions and Crashes: An Overview

by Jordan Jetsons

Dramatic scene of a 19th century sailing ship colliding with a lighthouse on a rocky cliff during a storm, highlighting historic lighthouse crashes.

Top Historic Lighthouse Collisions and Crashes: An Overview


When most people think about lighthouses, they tend to visualize a tranquil scene; waves lapping at the base, light piercing the monotony of the night. A safe haven for the weary sailor with warnings galore for the unaware. But unbeknownst to many, these silent sentinels of the sea have had their fair share of chaos. Ladies and gentlemen, put on your life-jackets (or better yet, hold onto your reading glasses) as we voyage through some quirky, calamitous, and downright odd stories of lighthouse collisions and crashes.

The Unexpected Drama of Farne Island: Grace Darling to the Rescue

In 1838, the Farne Islands' Longstone Lighthouse became an unexpected stage of maritime drama. The SS Forfarshire, a steamship destined for Dundee, ran aground in a stormy night sending shock waves ripple through the local maritime community. In an act worthy of a Hollywood production, Grace Darling, the daughter of the lighthouse keeper, and her father launched a fearless rescue mission saving 9 of the 62 passengers. The incident did two things: made Grace Darling a household name, and affirmed the role that lighthouses played in guaranteeing maritime safety.

Smalls Lighthouse Incident: The Tale of Ghosts and Ghouls

The Smalls Lighthouse found off the coast of Wales bears a sinister tale. In 1801, its lighthouse keeper, Thomas Howell, perished in a freak accident leaving his companion, Thomas Griffith, alone. Given the Lighthouse History, sick with fear of being suspected for murder, Griffith kept Howell's decaying corpse within the lighthouse for months until relief arrived. So, next time you visit a lighthouse, don’t be surprised if there’s an extra chill in the air, and mind the ghosts!

Breaksea Island Lighthouse: A Near Miss

Closer to the 20th century, in 1912, Captain Lawrence’s cargo ship seemed to be on an unstoppable collusion course with Breaksea Island Lighthouse, located off Albany, Australia. As the winds played fickle, the ship’s crew sweated bullets, debating whether they should continue forwards on their doomed trajectory or abandon ship. Wouldn’t you know it; lady luck bestowed her favor. As they were about to give up, the wind turned, saving them from an embarrassing dent in the MaritimeAdventure history.

The Point Reyes Shipwreck: A Photographer’s Paradise

Imagine a beautiful landscape featuring a wrecked ship as a prop, right next to a lighthouse! No, we aren't describing the setting of a post-apocalyptic blockbuster; this is a real place. Tomales Bay, California, was made infamous by the Point Reyes, a fishing boat that ran aground near a lighthouse. Today, it's a crowd puller for nostalgic tourists and eager shutterbugs.

Roches-Douvres Lighthouse Accident: In the Eye of the Storm

Our final story takes us to France, where in 1990 a ship named the Alesia was being tossed around by stormy seas. The beleaguered vessel began drifting towards the Roches-Douvres Lighthouse. The lighthouse managed to signal a warning just in the nick of time, preventing another entry into the record of disastrous lighthouse crashes.


Lighthouses, apart from being practical symbols of maritime safety and guiding lights for sailors, hold an intriguingly rich, albeit occasionally chilling, anthology of accidents and near misses. Equipped with #ModernLighthouses technology like #LEDTechnology and #SolarEnergy, lighthouses continue to be integral to ensuring the seas remain safe for travel, and memorable for the oddball incidents that add a hint of salt to a normally tranquil and serene seascape.

In the words of a seasoned sailor, "Without lighthouses, seawater would be nothing more than unsalted soup!" If these tales intrigued you, why not check out Triolighthouse, your beacon for more tales of maritime lore, and information about the changing tides of lighthouse technology. No life-jackets required, just a pinch of salt and an eye for a good tale.