New London Ledge Lighthouse – Connecticut3 min read
New London Ledge Lighthouse is a lighthouse in Groton, Connecticut, at the mouth of New London harbor. It is currently owned and maintained by the New London Maritime Society as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program.
It was built in 1909 on the southwest ledge and it was placed in operation on November 10 in the same year, with the station’s fourth-order Fresnel lens, crafted in Paris by the watchmaker Henry-Lepaute, repeating the distinctive signature of three white flashes followed by one red flash every thirty seconds.
With its square, redbrick quarters topped with a mansard roof and a circular lantern room, is one of the most unusual lighthouses in the United States. According to a local story, New London residents did not want to gaze out to sea at a structure that would be out of place among their large and historic homes, so Colonial and French architectural influences were used in the lighthouse.
Its light was automated in 1987 and the lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
New London Ledge is locally famous for the ghost of an early keeper named Ernie who allegedly haunts the lighthouse.
Ernie was reportedly an early keeper at New London Ledge. Although the life of a keeper can be lonely, it can sometimes be worse for his family. In fact, he had a wife who thought so and tried to alleviate her boredom by flirting with local fishermen and sailors with whom she came into contact. One day the keeper had to go ashore for supplies and when he returned, found his wife had run off with the captain of the Block Island ferry, and she was never seen again.
Ernie, in great despair, took his own life by throwing himself from the 20-meters lighthouse tower. According to another version, one evening, after a bitter fight with his girlfriend, returned to the lighthouse and decided to end it all.
No one seems to be sure exactly when this suicide happened, but when strange things began to occur, his replacement began to wonder if he had company. Doors opened and closed by themselves, items in locked drawers were found rearranged, there was a fishy smell, cold drafts and the feeling that someone was there.
Before automation Coast Guard crews spending the night there reported knocks on their bedroom doors in the middle of the night, as well as doors opening and closing repeatedly, the television turning on and off by itself sporadically, and the unexplained removal of sheets from beds.
An unknown Coast Guard officer wrote the following in the crew’s log on the last night before the automated light system was installed: “Rock of slow torture. Ernie’s domain. Hell on earth—may New London Ledge’s light shine on forever because I’m through. I will watch it from afar while drinking a brew.”
Legend has that one day two fisherman stopped by the light for coffee with the keeper. In the course of their conversation, the fishermen revealed that they did not believe in the ghost. However, when they went to leave, they found their boat adrift and perhaps changed their minds about Ernie….
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