A skeleton discovered sitting upright in a lighthouse cellar.

It sounds like the premise for a bad mystery novel or B-level streaming service thriller, but this was actually a widely circulated rumor about the Sandy Hook Lighthouse at one point in Monmouth County history.

The Jersey Midlands Dives Into Sandy Hook History

I'm fascinated by local folklore and history, and I've been on a Sandy Hook and Fort Hancock kick of late. After doing some deep web sleuthing on Spermaceti Cove1, I found a citation to a book called The Jersey Midlands by Henry Charlton Beck and snagged a copy.

READ MORE: Is Captain Kidd's Gold Buried at Sandy Hook?

The book was originally published in 1939 and chronicles the history of Central Jersey, which every rational, reasonable person knows is a real place.

Beck has a chapter on Sandy Hook and when I came across one particular passage, my eyes bugged out.

1. Yes, a whale died there. And yes, it's named after said dead whale.

Rutgers University Press
Rutgers University Press

A Sandy Hook Lighthouse Skeleton

Beck details a visit to the lighthouse, which he mentions required a lot of coordination in the tense, edge-of-war times of the late 1930s, given that Fort Hancock was an active military installation then and occupied most of the four-mile Sandy Hook peninsula.

READ MORE: Haunted New Jersey Road Where Legend Says Your Car Rolls Uphill

When Beck got there, he was met by the then-lighhouse keeper Hugo Carlson.

"We asked Mr. Carlson about the tradition of a secret cellar under the lighthouse, which, opened in the 1860s, was said to have revealed a skeleton seated before a rude fireplace," he writes.

Carlson tell him that yes, he had heard the tale but no, there was never a cellar under the lighthouse. Carlson believed the cellar was under the lighthouse keeper's cottage, which stood next to the lighthouse until 1883, Beck notes.

Carlson didn't deny the skeleton part though.

If you have any other local legends or weird stories about Sandy Hook, I'd love to hear them. Drop me an email at jackie DOT corley AT townsquaremedia DOT com.

And if you're curious about more Jersey Shore tales from the crypt, we have some weird ones...

The Most Horrifically Haunted Places in New Jersey

Gallery Credit: Matt Ryan