The first record that something was untoward on the Flannan Isles was on 15 December 1900 when the steamer Archtor, on a passage from Philadelphia to Leith, noted in its log that the light was not operational in poor weather conditions… The lighthouse was manned by three men: Thomas Marshall, James Ducat, and Donald MacArthur, with a rotating fourth man spending time on shore.

On arrival, the crew and relief keeper found that the flagstaff had no flag, none of the usual provision boxes had been left on the landing stage for re-stocking, and more ominously, none of the lighthouse keepers were there to welcome them ashore. Jim Harvie, captain of Hesperus, gave a strident blast on his whistle and set off a distress flare but no reply was forthcoming.

A boat was launched and Joseph Moore, the relief keeper, was put ashore alone. He found the entrance gate to the compound and main door both closed, the beds unmade, and the clock stopped. Returning to the landing stage with this grim news, he then went back up to the lighthouse with Hesperus’s second-mate and a seaman. A further search revealed that the lamps were cleaned and refilled. A set of oilskins was found, suggesting that one of the keepers had left the lighthouse without them, which was surprising considering the severity of the weather on the date of the last entry in the lighthouse log. The only sign of anything amiss in the lighthouse was an overturned chair by the kitchen table. There was no sign of any of the keepers, neither inside the lighthouse nor anywhere on the island.

Moore and three volunteer seamen were left to attend the light……the men scoured every corner of the island for clues as to the fate of the keepers. They found that everything was intact at the east landing but the west landing provided considerable evidence of damage caused by recent storms. A box at 33 metres (108 ft) above sea level had been broken and its contents strewn about; iron railings were bent over, the iron railway by the path was wrenched out of its concrete, and a rock weighing more than a ton had been displaced above that. On top of the cliff at more than 60 metres (200 ft) above sea level, turf had been ripped away as far as 10 metres (33 ft) from the cliff edge. The missing keepers had kept their log until 9 a.m. on 15 December. The entries made it clear that the damage had occurred before their disappearance –Wikipedia
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about people who go missing and the search for what happened.

Journaling Prompt: What have you lost that you have never been able to find?

Art Prompt: Lost without a trace

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Flannan Isle lighthouse keepers’ disappearance.

Photo Credit: The lighthouse on Eilean Mor on Wikimedia

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