NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — For those who navigate the waters of the Thames River, New London Ledge Lighthouse is quite impressive up close. The red brick and granite lighthouse has been guiding sailors for more than a century, and to submariners returning from their long deployments, it is more than a navigational beacon, it’s point Alpha.
“It’s the first thing they see that says you’re safe, you’re home,” said Todd Gipstein, President of Ledge Light Foundation.
The 58-foot tower, which the foundation has restored, is no longer out of reach for those who have only seen it from shore. Project Oceanology provides the ride for visitors.
“It’s a great day on the water,” said Thaxter Tewksbury, Director of Project Oceanology.
During a special ceremony at the Custom House in New London on Thursday, the deed was officially transferred from the U.S. government to the New London Maritime Society. The non-profit will continue to provide public access and maintain the building while the Coast Guard keeps the beacon lit.
“Structurally, we’ve put in new windows, which has helped. We’ve sealed the roof, which had leaks,” said Gipstein.
Each of the 11 rooms is designed to illustrate the lighthouse’s history, which comes with its own ghost stories. Ernie the lighthouse keeper may still keep watch, at least over one informational panel about him.
“We were moving it across the room and suddenly the light switch turned itself off, and these are very old clack kind of light switches,” said Gipstein.
The unexplained, and for some the unexplored.
“It looks so small and deceiving from shore,” said Nick Korstad. “You get out here, it’s really a huge structure. It’s well worth visiting.”
This is the third lighthouse taken over by New London Maritime Society. It already owns Race Rock Light and New London Harbor Light.
Information about lighthouse tours can be found on the New London Maritime Society website.