By Shari Randall
Sometimes I forget to enjoy the things that are right outside my front door here in Connecticut. I’m glad when friends visit and we do all the fun tourist things including one of my favorites, the Lights and Sights Cruise out of New London Harbor. On Lights and Sights, the tour boat parallels the coast, gliding along the shore past lighthouses, seaside mansions, fishing villages, and secluded beaches and parks.
This past weekend we boarded the Cecelia Ann, a high speed catamaran that does a two hour tour of Long Island Sound, and visited some of my favorite lighthouses.
One of the most unique is the New London Ledge Lighthouse. It looks like a wild gust of wind blew a charming three story French Second Empire-style house with a mansard roof to the mouth of the Thames River (by the way, we pronounce the “h” here). Built in 1909, the Ledge Light was managed by the Coast Guard through1987, when the lighthouse was automated. The light is visible from 18 miles away and has a distinctive pattern of three white flashes then one red flash every 30 seconds.
The New London Ledge Light was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1990. Its original fourth order Fresnel lens light can be seen now at the Custom House Museum.
In addition to its stalwart service to mariners, the Ledge Light has another claim to fame – its resident ghost, Ernie.
You can pick your Ernie story: Ernie was a lonely lighthouse keeper who decided to end it all after the love of his life threw him over for the captain of the Block Island ferry. Ernie went over the side of the lighthouse after a tussle with another keeper. Ernie slipped from the roof on a foggy night … Well, you get the idea. The lighthouse has been featured on several paranormal television shows, Scariest Places on Earth and Ghost Hunters, and if you’d like to try your luck at meeting Ernie in, er, person, you can visit during one of several haunted lighthouse tours in October.
If you want more information, check out the New London Maritime Society website at http://www.nlmaritimesociety.org
Shari Randall writes Lobster Shack mystery series. Her debut, Curses, Boiled Again, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel.