Sunday, August 24, 2008

New London Ledge Lighthouse

New London Ledge Lighthouse ( catalog #3003 )

This one-of-a-kind building was one of the last lighthouses built in New England, and it represents a rare case of an early 20th century offshore lighthouse that is not of cast-iron construction. By the early 1900s, New London, with its protected harbor at the mouth of the Thames River, had made the transition from whaling center to industrial city. New London Ledge Light was built because New London Harbor Light wasn't sufficient to direct vessels around the dangerous ledges at the entrance to the harbor. When it was first lighted, the New London Day reported that the light could be seen up to 18 miles away.
Probably the best-known part of this station's history and lore is the lighthouse's infamous ghost, "Ernie." It's been claimed that in the 1920s or '30s, a keeper learned that his wife had run off with the captain of the Block Island ferry. Distraught, the keeper jumped -- or fell -- from the roof of the lighthouse to his death, the story goes. Some versions of this story say that Ernie's real name may have been John Randolf or Randolph. If there's any truth behind the legend, it's elusive.

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