Point Lookout Lighthouse
(Wood) Alvey Interview
by Robert Hall
I recently corresponded with Ruth (Wood) Alvey. Mrs. Alvey and her family were the first civilians to live in the lighthouse after it was decommissioned in 1966, and lived in the lighthouse from 1966 until the fall 1968. Mrs. Alvey contacted us after she visited the PtLookoutLighthouse.com website, and while she enjoyed the historical aspect of the website, she did not agree with ghost information on the site. One of the conditions of displaying her pictures and the interview that follows was that we clearly state that she never saw or heard anything unusual while living in the lighthouse and that it was like any other home they had lived in. I assured Mrs. Alvey that we welcome everyone's unique experiences at the lighthouse, and that not everyone has reported unusual happenings.
In the mid nineteen sixties, Arthur "Buck" Briscoe fought long and hard to get the state to buy the land surrounding the lighthouse to make it into a state park. At the dedication ceremony, Arthur (Buck) Briscoe was recognized for his hard work to obtain the lease to the lighthouse from the Navy and for transforming the surrounding land into the park as we know it today.
In addition to the work of Buck Briscoe, Philip Roger Wood was the first Park Superintendent and he created the picnic and primitive camping areas. In 1966, when the state leased the lighthouse for 99 years for the grand sum of one dollar, Superintendent Wood, his wife Ruth and children William, Ronald and Janet moved into the north side of the lighthouse. The family had a German Shepard named Thor, which they brought into the house in winter. Ranger Leo Gentry and his wife Betty lived on the south side of the lighthouse, and did not report any unusual occurrences. Ranger Tom Haynie and his wife Felicia lived in the little house (coal shed) by the garage; the couple did not report any unusual occurrences.
The family made many friends from the campers during the time they lived in the lighthouse. Because the house was leased to the state, the Navy performed inspections to ensure that the house was well maintained at all times, and it was always kept in excellent shape. Prisoners from Hughesville were brought to the point to clear the land behind the office for the campgrounds. Mrs. Alvey would make the prisoners cakes and brought them drinks, as all the state provided was a sandwich, an apple and water. The prisoners were very polite and happy when to see Mrs. Alvey, as they knew she had made something extra for them to eat.
Mrs. Alvey said it was wonderful living in the LH and she was there most of the time by herself with her 3 children, as her husband would be out patrolling the park at night. She says that to this day she still does not believe that the lighthouse is haunted, because if it had been, they would have left immediately! Mrs. Alvey and the children would go fishing for spot and rockfish on the rocks on the Potomac River. Back then you would catch fish every time you went fishing. The family spent many enjoyable times in the lighthouse. Many people would ask to go up to the light, and Governor Tawes visited the lighthouse with Buck Briscoe.
During one bad storm, an Eastern Shore oysterman had his boat destroyed at the point. Mrs. Alvey fixed him some food, and all the rangers pitched in to try to salvage the boat before it was destroyed by the storm's pounding waves. The captain of the boat was an older gentleman who was so exhausted that he needed assistance to climb the lighthouse steps, and once inside, he slept until his family from the eastern shore arrived at the lighthouse. During another storm, the basement flooded and all of Mrs. Alvey's belongings in the basement play area were ruined. When a second storm ruined everything in the basement playroom again, she decided she had had enough. One storm was so bad that the point was flooded and all one could see were the treetops; Mr. Wood rescued the family in a dump truck! Although she loved the lighthouse and the view, she decided to move to a safer place that was not as vulnerable to flooding.
The family lived in the lighthouse until the fall of 1968. The lighthouse was unoccupied for a short period of time after the family left, until some part-time summer workers moved into the lighthouse. (Note: Mrs. Alvey speculated that it was these young workers who destroyed the interior of the lighthouse. However, the lighthouse was continually occupied from 1975, first by Gerry Sword and then by Laura Berg, until 1981 when Laura was forced to vacate the lighthouse. The damage occurred after Laura left the lighthouse.)
Mrs. Alvey disagrees with the hauntings and speculates that if there really are ghosts in the area, they must have arrived after she left the lighthouse. She walked the beach at night and at no time were her children frightened. She said that she would not be afraid to walk the park at night, even today. The family dog, Thor, did not bark or act in an unusual manner. Only one unusual thing happened at the point after the state bought the property: everyone that moved to the point and rented a house, ended up getting divorced.
In the late 1990s, Mrs. Alvey visited the lighthouse during open house and was shocked to see the sad condition of the interior, as it was clean and nice when her family lived there.
Mrs. Alvey wanted us to emphasize that she did not see or experience anything out of the ordinary at the park, other than the natural beauty of the area. Mrs. Alvey spent seventy five percent of her time alone in the lighthouse and never once saw or heard anything out of the ordinary.
We would like to thank Mrs. Alvey for her pictures and recollections about her time in the lighthouse. Mrs. Alvey also shared some family photographs of her time at the lighthouse by browsing the Ruth Alvey album under the Pictures link.