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Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum

What hidden history lurks in the dark waters of the Virginia Beach shoreline? Take a USGA Tour of the Surf & Rescue Museum to see for yourself.

Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum

The coastline of Virginia Beach is crawling with sun-bathing tourists and locals alike, splayed out to soak in the summer breeze. A trendy vacation destination, Virginia Beach offers an eclectic mix of city amenities, like a popping art district, hotels galore, and nature’s finest beaches and countryside. 

But Virginia Beach wasn’t always this lively. Only a century and a half ago, there was little to be seen on the shoreline. With an untrained eye, that is…

At the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum, you can dive into the history of this beach and learn of the coast guards—and the poor souls they couldn’t save. Keep reading to discover one of the gems of haunted Virginia.

A Guard Shack Turned Coast Guard Facility

In 1878, a national service called The United States Life-Saving Service took up shop on the lonely coastline of Virginia Beach and built Seatack Life-Saving Station #2. 

This small building expanded in the following decades, leading to the erection of a slightly larger facility in 1903. The building housed the men of the life-saving service and stored their equipment. 

Today, that very building is home to the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum. The servicemen have long since moved out, but some say that the ghosts of those lost at sea have taken up their bunks.



A Century of Shipwrecks

Waters off of the Virginia Beach coastline are notoriously dangerous due to the colliding power of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Even with the coast guard presence, there have been dozens of disastrous shipwrecks over the decades. A whole section of the  Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum is dedicated to these deadly shipwrecks. 

Tourist drownings were also a prevalent issue. Naive beach-goers would wade into the water only to meet their demise at the pulling undercurrent, and waves swept them further into the water. 

The coast guard even installed a long rope out in the water along the beach that victims could grab onto in an attempt to save their lives. 

But alas, it was to no avail. Even with protective measures and rescue crews stationed at the ready, many poor souls succumbed to the watery depths. 

If you walk along the beach late at night and the moonlight hits the waves just right, you can see them stretching their arms up from the deep, grasping for the rope—their only lifeline.

An Attic of Atrocity 

There was a period during the height of the shipwreck travesties that the rescue crews couldn’t keep up with the terrible influx of death that scattered their shores. They had to resort to storing victims’ bodies in the attic of the museum building until they could be identified and claimed. 

In the museum today, visitors may hear their last cries for help wafting down from the secret storage above. 

Haunted Virginia Beach, VA 

If Virginia is for lovers, then Virginia Beach is as lovely as it gets, with family-friendly activities galore. But if you want to explore a murkier side of the city’s past, take a USGA Tour of the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum and more! That is if you dare.

About US Ghost Adventures 

Since 2013, US Ghost Adventures has offered entertaining, historic, and authentic ghost tours of America’s most haunted cities. We deliver fun yet honest accounts of hauntings across the nation for curious people of all ages. Our ghost stories are based on historical research, but that doesn’t mean they won’t send a chill down your spine.

This video gives you a small taste of what you might experience on your ghost tour — subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more.

US Ghost Adventures also offers virtual tours, a self-guided mobile app, and an Alexa voice app.