The Paranormal at Home: Hauntings in 50 States – Connecticut’s New London Ledge Lighthouse

Please click here if you would like to read the first article in the series.

I know it’s crazy and unheard of, but today we will have two posts instead of just one.  A big hairy work monster devoured all my time yesterday and forced me to push things back a bit. So I, and the monster, apologize. In the meantime, prepare for a double dose of creepiness!

Today we’re heading to the east coast to explore a popular landmark in Connecticut. At the mouth of New London Harbor, along the Thames River, sits a quaint looking structure that serves a vital purpose to travelers.  A cement pier supports a red 3 story building topped in a cylindrical light. The exterior looks unassuming at first glance, but learning more about the lighthouse’s history reveals that there may be at least one inhabitant that no longer treads on our plane of existence.

Haunted Connecticut: New London Ledge Lighthouse

New London Ledge Lighthouse postcard
Postcard from 1910 that features the New London Ledge lighthouse prior to its name change

The London Ledge Lighthouse was constructed in 1909 along the Southwest Ledge. It was named Southwest Ledge lighthouse, but this was confusing because there was second lighthouse in New Haven with the same moniker. The name changed in 1910 and has remained the same since.

Management changed in 1939 when the U.S. Coast Guard took over after merging with the Lighthouse Service. The New London Ledge lighthouse was completely automated by 1987. It’s original Fresnel lens became a historic artifact and was added to the Custom House Maritime Museum’s collection. The lighthouse join the ranks of locations on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Paranormal Activity at the New London Ledge Lighthouse

Most of the New London Ledge Lighthouse’s history is uneventful. There is one tale circulating that my or may not be true, but could explain the unearthly presence that allegedly hangs around the place. The life of a keeper is a very isolated and lonely one. Rumors tell of a John Randolph (or Randolf) who was working as keeper at the lighthouse during the 20s or 30s.

His wife lived on the main land and, unable to deal with a husband who was away for so long, turned to the many local fishermen and sailors. John went ashore one fateful day for supplies and discovered that his beloved wife had run off with the captain of the ferry boat. He was so distraught over the end of the relationship that he returned to the lighthouse  and committed suicide from the 65 foot tower. Some versions of the story also include the gory detail of John slitting his throat before taking that final leap.

Many believe that the ghost who haunts the New London Ledge Lighthouse may actually be John, even though he’s usually referred to as “Ernie.” Coast Guard crew serving at the lighthouse have reported unexplained activity on multiple occasions.

The most common occurrences included strange knocking at night, doors opening and closing on their own and the television shutting off and turning on with no one around. Some also found their bed sheets removed or felt changes in temperature for no apparent reason.

It seemed those that spent significant time at the lighthouse knew about Ernie. On the evening before the installation of an automated light system, an unknown Coast Guard officer penned the following goodbye to the lighthouse (and Ernie):

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.

A Japanese TV reporter visited the New London Ledge lighthouse in the 1990s to investigate the ghostly presence called Ernie. Audible whispering noises were heard, and caught on camera, during the night. The footage aired as part of the paranormal documentary TV show Scariest Places on Earth. British paranormal reality TV show Most Haunted also investigated the New London Ledge Lighthouse for their January 6th, 2009 episode. And TAPs explored the building early in their TV career for their August 31st, 2005 episode.

Deteriorating room in the New London Ledge Lighthouse
Room intentionally un-restored inside the New London Ledge
lighthouse to demonstrate the deterioration process
Photo taken August 2011

The New London Ledge Lighthouse Today

The New London Ledge Lighthouse is currently maintained by a foundation with the same name. The building serves as a maritime classroom. The automated light system still functions and is still overseen by the Coast Guard. On May 1st, 2013, the building was made available and may be sold if not claimed:

…[New London Ledge Light House is]…being made available at no cost to eligible entities defined as federal agencies, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations, for education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation purposes.

UPDATE: As an interesting little addition to this piece, the New London Ledge Lighthouse was mentioned on a Halloween episode of Art Bell’s new radio show, Dark Matter. Caller Scott told his story about strange sounds and free weights moving on their own. (unfortunately we can not locate a copy of this show)

Have you been to the New London Ledge Lighthouse (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.

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