I don’t know, men. I just don’t know. Sometimes your head goes to places where things just stop making sense after a while. You get so perplexed. You think there’s something more… and you’re so close to figuring it out… and yet it still… doesn’t… work… anyways, enough about the offensive playcalling duties from last season. This week, we’re headed back to the sea, for a very strange mystery indeed.
THE FLANNAN ISLES LIGHTHOUSE
Location: Eilean Mor, Flannan Isles, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Date: December 15-26, 1900
The Story: A few days before Christmas, at the turn of the previous century, a boat offshore of the Flannan Isles, remote in the north Atlantic Ocean, noticed an unusual sight as they passed by: the island’s manned lighthouse had gone out. Not just for a night, but for several consecutive nights – strange enough to send a relief vessel, the Hesperus, from the Scottish mainland to investigate. After going ashore, the crew found the lighthouse and shore station totally abandoned – landing dock empty, flag not flying, gates locked, beds unmade, clocks stopped, and no entries recorded in the log past December 15th. It was as if the island’s three lighthouse keepers had just vanished into thin air.
What’s Weird: As the crew of the Hesperus scoured the island looking for clues as to what had happened to the lighthouse keepers, they found a variety of strange things.
- A set of oil slickers – full-body rain gear – was left on the wall; if all of the men had ventured out in the violent storm that had happened around the time they likely disappeared, this means someone would have had to go outside in their regular clothes – very odd behavior, especially considering the nasty weather.
- The inside of the lighthouse looked like it was in good shape – there was speculation that they had left dinner untouched on the table at one point, but this was in recounts of the incident that started many years after the fact – with the only evidence to suggest anything weird was an overturned chair at the head of the table.
- The last entry in the log was from the morning of December 15th; while a few previous entries noted the terrible weather from the days preceding, the last entry read, “Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all.” Even more curiously, the log from the 12th described “severe winds the likes I have never seen before in twenty years” by Thomas Marshall; this too is strange because the weather logs from elsewhere state that the area should have been calm at this time, and any storm likely should not have reached the area until December 17th.
- Further odd details from the log include that Donald McArthur had been crying – unusual for a man with such a long career braving the sea and the elements – and that all three men had been praying throughout the 13th and 14th off and on, very weird behaviour considering the fact that the lighthouse was so new and considered to be extremely safe for the era in which it was built.
- As the crew of the Hesperus investigated the entire island after the incident, they found that a wooden box had been broken 108 feet from sea level, bent iron railings all over, and a one-ton rock moved from its previous location; at 200 feet above sea level, turf had been ripped out over 30 feet from the cliff – all evidence to suggest that the weather was well past extreme and bordering on completely and utterly terrifying.
What might have happened?
The story was so strange, and considering the breach of protocol that seemed to have gone down in order to result in the evidence found, there was tons of speculation by newspapers, magazines and periodicals as to what really happened, including theories that the men were killed by pirates, carried off by sea serpents, giant squids, or massive birds of prey, or even possibly kidnapped by aliens. However, based on some evidence that has come to light that two of the lighthouse keepers had been previously fined for improper storage of equipment when some gear had been washed away in another gale a few months previously, the most likely explanation is one of the two following:
- Two of the keepers got dressed to go properly tie down all of their equipment outdoors, and encountered some bad weather; they then encountered a rogue wave or terrible wind and were then swept away into the ocean. The third, either seeing the incoming waves or else realizing his companions were in danger, rushed out of the lighthouse at full speed – without bothering to get dressed – and was also caught in the the storm and vanished.
- One of the lighthouse keepers – Donald MacArthur – was apparently a rather hot-headed man, and thus there is also some belief that perhaps a fight started between the three men that involved one or more plunging over the cliffs to their deaths.
Coach Carroll’s Hypothesis: Honestly, men, this one has me stumped. It’s just as strange as the MH370 case. Has anyone bothered to check the gravitational pull of the area? Checked for portals of some variety? How do you just vanish into thin air? Actually, maybe I’ll just listen to some Genesis and let them do the thinking for a little while.
Banner image courtesy of Low Commander of the Super Soldiers.