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The Ghosts of SS Watertown

The story of the SS Watertown has been disturbing the scientific community for years with the pictures of ghosts
The story of the SS Watertown has been disturbing the scientific community for years with the pictures of ghosts
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To know about the ghosts of SS Watertown, it’s necessary to understand the entire context. The SS Watertown was a steamship that was in service in the 1920s. On December 1, 1924, the SS Watertown was en route from California to New York with a cargo of crude oil. The ship was passing through the Pacific Ocean, approximately 650 miles off the coast of Mexico, when an accident led to the deaths of two crew members, James Courtney, and Michael Meehan.

Who are the Ghosts of SS Watertown?

According to reports, Courtney and Meehan were working on the ship’s cargo pumps when fumes from the oil overcame them. Despite the efforts of the other crew members to rescue them, both men died from their injuries.

Launching of the S.S. Watertown in 1890

Launching of the S.S. Watertown in 1890

The bodies of Courtney and Meehan were buried at sea, as was the custom at the time. Shortly after this event, sightings of ghostly apparitions began to occur.

The sightings continued for several weeks and eventually caught the attention of the ship’s captain, Keith Tracy. Tracy was initially skeptical of the crew’s claims but eventually decided to document the events by taking photographs.

Death notice for Michael Meehan and James Courtney posted in the San Pedro News-Pilot, Jan 12, 1925.

Death notice for Michael Meehan and James Courtney, Jan 12, 1925.

He managed to capture several images that appeared to show the ghostly apparitions of Courtney and Meehan, as well as an ethereal, mist-like substance that some believed to be evidence of supernatural activity.

The story of the SS Watertown ghosts quickly became a sensation and was featured in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Some dismissed the sightings as hoaxes or hallucinations, while others believed that the images were genuine proof of the existence of ghosts.

Possible Explanations into the Incident

To understand the significance of the SS Watertown ghosts, it’s essential to consider the context of the time. The 1920s were a period of significant social and cultural change in the United States, with many people becoming more interested in spirituality, mysticism, and the occult.

The rise of spiritualism, in particular, was a popular trend, with many people seeking to communicate with the dead or to prove the existence of an afterlife.

Against this backdrop, the SS Watertown incident captured the public’s imagination and tapped into a widespread fascination with the supernatural. The photographs of the ghostly apparitions became iconic symbols of the era, embodying a sense of mystery, intrigue, and awe.

A much sharper version of the photo

A much sharper version of the photo

Despite the skepticism and controversy surrounding the SS Watertown incident, the story has endured as a fascinating and intriguing mystery. Over the years, it has been the subject of numerous articles, books, and television programs, with many researchers attempting to explain or debunk the sightings.

One theory is that sightings result from psychological phenomena like hallucinations or group hysteria. This theory suggests that the crew members were under intense emotional stress following the deaths of their colleagues and that this stress may have manifested itself in the form of ghostly visions.

Another theory is that the sightings resulted from optical illusions or atmospheric conditions. Some researchers have suggested that the mist-like substance in the photographs may have been caused by fog, lighting, and camera angles.

Despite these alternative explanations, many believe the SS Watertown ghosts were real. The photographs remain compelling evidence, and the story continues to capture the imagination of paranormal enthusiasts and skeptics alike.

Another version of the deaths being reported (without the typo) from the Pomona Progress Bulletin, also from January 12, 1925.

Another version of the deaths being reported

One interesting aspect of the SS Watertown incident is how it reflects broader cultural attitudes toward the supernatural. In many ways, the story can be seen as a product of its time, with the rise of spiritualism and other forms of mysticism fueling a fascination with ghosts, spirits, and otherworldly phenomena.

At the same time, the story also highlights the enduring power of belief in the supernatural, even in the face of skepticism and rational inquiry. Despite the efforts of skeptics and debunkers, many people continue to believe in ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, often relying on personal experience or anecdotal evidence to support their beliefs.

In conclusion, the story of the SS Watertown ghosts is a fascinating and enduring mystery that captures the public’s imagination. Whether one believes in ghosts or not, the incident offers a unique glimpse into the cultural and historical context of the time and the enduring power of belief in the supernatural.

More Ships with Paranormal Activities

Ships have long been associated with paranormal tales, with stories of ghostly sightings, strange phenomena, and unexplained events dating back centuries. From mysterious disappearances to haunted vessels, countless examples of famous paranormal incidents on ships continue to captivate and intrigue people today. Here are just a few of the most well-known cases.

The USS Salem

The USS Salem was a United States Navy heavy cruiser from 1949 to 1959. Today, the ship is open to the public as a museum and is said to be haunted by the ghosts of former crew members. Here are some of the most famous stories of ghosts on the USS Salem.

The Crying Woman

One of the most commonly reported ghosts on the USS Salem is that of a crying woman. Visitors and staff members have reported hearing the sound of a woman weeping on the ship, and some have even claimed to have seen her ghostly apparition.

USS Salem at Toulon, 18 June 1951

USS Salem at Toulon, 18 June 1951

According to legend, the woman was the wife of a sailor who died on the ship, and she continues to mourn his loss to this day.

The Phantom Crewman

Another famous ghost on the USS Salem is that of a crewman who is said to wander the ship’s passageways. According to reports, the crewman appears lost or disoriented, and some have claimed that he has asked them for directions or assistance before disappearing into thin air.

The Faceless Man

One of the most chilling stories of ghosts on the USS Salem involves a mysterious figure, the Faceless Man.

The USS Salem at her former location in Quincy, Massachusetts

The USS Salem at her former location in Quincy, Massachusetts

According to reports, the Faceless Man is a ghostly apparition who appears to be missing his face. Some visitors and staff members have claimed to have seen the Faceless Man on the ship, and many find his appearance particularly disturbing.

The Poltergeist

There have also been reports of poltergeist activity on the USS Salem. Visitors and staff members have reported objects moving independently, doors slamming shut inexplicably, and strange noises and voices coming from empty rooms. Some believe this activity results from the ship’s haunted history, while others attribute it to more mundane explanations, such as the creaking and settling of an old ship.

The Captain’s Cabin

One of the most famous spots on the USS Salem is the captain’s cabin, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of the ship’s former commander. Visitors have reported feeling a sense of unease or discomfort when entering the cabin, and some have claimed to have seen the ghostly apparition of the captain himself.

Salem at anchor off Sardinia on 19 May 1950

Salem at anchor off Sardinia on 19 May 1950

Overall, the USS Salem is a fascinating and eerie place with a long and storied history that continues to captivate visitors and ghost enthusiasts alike. Whether the stories of ghosts on the ship are the result of legends, folklore, or unexplained phenomena, they remind us of the enduring power of the unknown and the mysteries that lie beneath the surface of our everyday lives.

The Mary Celeste

Perhaps the most famous ship associated with the paranormal is the Mary Celeste (this was covered in a previous article). This merchant’s vessel was discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872, with no sign of its crew.

Mary Celeste in an old painting

Mary Celeste in an old painting

The ship’s cargo and supplies were still intact, and there was no evidence of a struggle or foul play. The crew’s fate remains a mystery to this day, and the Mary Celeste has become one of the most enduring maritime mysteries ever.

The Flying Dutchman

Another famous ghost ship is the Flying Dutchman.

The Flying Dutchman painting

The Flying Dutchman painting

According to legend, this vessel was cursed and doomed to sail the seas forever, never able to make port. Sightings of the Flying Dutchman have been reported for centuries, with many claiming to have seen the spectral ship glowing eerily in the mist or fog.

The SS Ourang Medan

The SS Ourang Medan was a Dutch freighter discovered adrift and abandoned in the Strait of Malacca in 1948. When rescuers boarded the ship, they found the entire crew dead, with their faces twisted in terror and expressions of extreme pain.

The Ourang Medan mystery is unsolved

The Ourang Medan mystery is unsolved

No cause of death was ever determined, and the fate of the SS Ourang Medan remains one of the most puzzling and chilling maritime mysteries of all time. You can find my blog on this here.

The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner permanently docked in Long Beach, California. The ship has a long and storied history and is said to be one of the most haunted ships in the world.

The Queen Mary currently docked in Long Beach

The Queen Mary currently docked in Long Beach

There have been numerous reports of ghostly apparitions and strange phenomena on board the Queen Mary, with many claiming to have seen the spirits of former crew members and passengers.

The USS Hornet

The USS Hornet was a United States Navy aircraft carrier in service during World War II. The ship was involved in numerous battles and was the launching point for the famous Doolittle Raid in Tokyo. After the war, the USS Hornet was decommissioned and became a museum ship.

The USS Hornet at Alameda, CA

USS Hornet, 707 W Hornet Ave, Alameda, CA

However, it is said to be haunted by the ghosts of former crew members, with many visitors reporting eerie sounds and strange occurrences on board.

The SS Watertown

As discussed above, SS Watertown was involved in a famous ghostly incident in 1924. After two crew members died from exposure to crude oil fumes, their ghostly apparitions were reported by other crew members and were even captured on film by the ship’s captain.

Same uncropped photo with arrows pointing to our ghost heads.

Same uncropped photo with arrows pointing to our ghost heads.

These are just a few of the most famous paranormal incidents on ships. Whether from legends, folklore, or unexplained phenomena, these stories fascinate people today, reminding us of the unknown’s enduring power and the mysteries beneath the waves.

Next, read about Dorothy Scott, the  Woman Who Was Stalked and Killed by an Unknown Psycho. Then, about Elisa Lam, the Girl Who Disappeared and Was Discovered Dead in Strange Circumstances!

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Written By

Abin Tom Sebastian, also known as Mr. Morbid in the community, is an avid fan of the paranormal and the dark history of the world. He believes that sharing these stories and histories are essential for the future generations. For god forbid, we have seen that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

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