Ram Island Ledge light off Cape Elizabeth for sale, in need of care
CAPE ELIZABETH — The Ram Island Ledge lighthouse needs a steward and is for sale to the highest bidder.
Paula Santangelo, public affairs officer at the U.S. General Services Administration, said the property was first made available to government agencies, education institutions and non-profit organizations at no charge in 2008 under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.
But since no government body or non-profit organization showed interest, the lighthouse is now being offered to the public.
"This lighthouse stewardship program started when the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act was amended in 2000," Santangelo said. "A certain number of lights are made available each year. The objective of the program is to allow the public access to the lights, to provide education and maintenance, and to preserve the light."
A new lighthouse steward is expected to take care of the lighthouse structure and when necessary, work with state historic preservation officials.
Santangelo said it has become increasingly difficult for the U.S. Coast Guard to maintain and man the lighthouses.
"The light is an active navigation tool, and we want to ensure it remains so," she said.
The property is in Casco Bay, about a mile offshore from Portland Head, at the entrance to Portland Harbor. One bidder has made an offer in an online auction.
Santangelo said the minimum bid is $10,000, and the application process is thorough. Applicants must indicate how the lighthouse will be supported financially, how public education about the light will be provided and how the light's historical significance will be upheld. The auction was opened on June 30, and its closing date is yet to be determined.
Ram Island Ledge protrudes 1,300 feet from Ram Island and is only exposed at low tide. The granite tower was built in 1905 on a granite block foundation with an attached skeletal pier. It is 77 feet tall from its base to the middle of the round lantern. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On Aug. 28, 1905, a fog bell was installed and in 1958 the lighthouse was converted to electricity. In 1959, the Coast Guard removed the three lighthouse keepers from Ram Island Ledge and the automated light and fog signal were tended remotely by keepers at Portland Head Light.
The light was converted to solar power in January 2001 and is still an active navigational aid. The lighthouse structure is not open to the public and is accessible only by boat.
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org