THE GHOSTS OF LEDGE LIGHTHOUSE
You can easily see the New London Ledge lighthouse from New London’s shores, especially in the Pequot Avenue area. Lobbying for the lighthouse began in 1890 because New London’s protected harbor at the mouth of the Thames River, had made the transition from whaling center to industrial city and the New London Harbor Light wasn't sufficient to direct vessels around the dangerous ledges at the entrance to the harbor
The lighthouse, (sunk in 28 feet of water) built in New England, was one of the few early 20th century offshore lighthouse that is not of cast-iron construction. The house itself is a stately red brick building because, legend says, the wealthy locals who live on the nearby shore insisted on it to keep up with the elegance of their homes. (Most of which were destroyed in hurricane of September 21, 1938.)
When it was first lighted, the New London Day newspaper reported that the light could be seen up to 18 miles away. The lights were not automated until 1987 and on the last day before automation, a Coast Guardsman entered in the log: 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.
The lighthouse was manned by United States Coast Guard crews lived there. They worked in three man shifts for about three weeks per shift with six days ashore. They were three because, sea legend says, if two men had a fight, there would be a third to break it up.
Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Grant "After a week ashore, I can't wait to get back here. This might be an ideal place for a loner, but it would drive whoever lives with him up a wall."
And it could be a mind numbing, cold and fog filled place perfect for a ghost story
Depending on how tells the tale, Ernie was a keeper at the lighthouse in either the 1920s or '30s, (There are perfect records of the lighthouse history including the names of every person who stepped on the installation after it was opened. No one named Ernie lived there or visited there. Some versions say Ernie's real name may have been John Randolf, but a John Randolf never lived there either.)
Ernie learned that his wife (the lighthouse was always a “stag” station, so it’s unlikely that any keeper’s wife lived with him) had run off with the captain of the Block Island ferry. Distraught, he fell or jumped to his death from the roof of the lighthouse and that’s when the unexplainable activity began. (Although the strange phenomena started before the lighthouse was completed. Eeerie sounds, spooky shadows vanishing tools were reported by the construction crews.)
Doors open and close by themselves and the deck is swabbed clean. The television turn themselves off and the fog horn turns on for no reason. Boats tied to the house by sailors and fishermen have been set adrift. Coast Guard Officer in Charge Randy Watkins said he once heard his name being called from an upstairs room when the other crewman was asleep. Watkins’ wife, Lucretia, reported that when she visited the station one night when she was asleep the bedroom door opened, followed by “the eerie feeling of someone in the room, staring.'’ Supposedly only visiting women have ever seen or may be able to see Ernie’s ghost.
When the automation of Ledge Light was happening, according to Coast Guard crew on duty, Ernie apparently become agitated over the change. Charles Kerr said that papers on his desk rearranged themselves, and Paul Noke’s bed moved around the room by itself. Noke said he eventually started sleeping on a couch after tiring of the moving bed. Only one of the crewmen at the time, Steven Bailey, expressed doubt about Ernie’s existence. If he kicks me out of bed and throws me down the stairs,” said Bailey, “I’ll leave.”
In the 1990s, a television reporter from Japan spent a night inside the lighthouse to investigate and reported hearing loud whispering throughout the night.
Apparently Ernie’s not alone on the station. On particularly dark nights, a spirit has been observed roaming the lighthouse. Over the years, legend says, people have encountered the spirit and have named her ‘The Lady of the Ledge.’”
Jerry Olson of the New London Ledge Lighthouse Foundation said that one day he was alone in the basement of the lighthouse, cleaning the cisterns, Olson says he heard the distinct sound of a woman clearing her throat behind him. He says he immediately had the image of an attractive middle-aged woman in his mind’s eye, but upon turning around he saw nothing.
Research on the area show that there was a shipwreck on Black Ledge ten years before the lighthouse was built. Several of the passengers died, including a newly married young woman. The woman’s husband, legend says, searched the shores for her body but never found her. Witnesses said they saw the man walk slowly out into the water toward Black Ledge until he disappeared and drowned. So maybe that’s how Ernie and the strange lady got there.