New London Ledge Lighthouse

Sept. 24, 2019

New London Ledge Lighthouse, Groton, Connecticut

Built in 1909.


Location: Thames River-New London Harbor entrance
Station Established: 1909
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1909
Operational? Yes
Automated? Yes, 1987
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE PIER/ORIG. CRIB
Construction Materials: GRANITE/BRICK
Markings/Pattern: RED WITH WHITE TRIM
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL 1910
Characteristic: Three white flashes followed by a red flash every thirty seconds.

Historical Information:

  • On March 20th 1794 the House of Representatives authorized the treasury to mark the rocks with four buoys.
  • There were many requests for a light of some sort to mark this location. In 1845 there were requests from the public to erect a lighthouse at the location. In 1854 requests were again made to mark the location with a light. In 1865 there were requests for a lightship. A lighthouse was again requested in 1890.
  • In 1902 the lighthouse board finally requested funds for a lighthouse. In 1904 congress authorized the appropriation of $60,000 for a lighthouse on Southwest Ledge. It was originally to have been built on Black Ledge but after consideration it was moved to Southwest Ledge.
  • After drawings were made for the lighthouse design additional money was authorized and the new lighthouse was to be built for a sum not to exceed $115,000. The lighthouse is unique in its architectural style.
  • Work did not begin until 1908. Work was suspended during the winter and resumed in 1909.
  • The light was completed and first lit in November of 1909. A fourth order Fresnel lens was installed. A fog horn was also installed at the time.
  • In 1910 the lighthouse was renamed to New London Ledge Light. It was originally called the Southwest Ledge light, but it was felt this could be confused with another lighthouse in New Haven.
  • U.S. Coast Guard took over in 1939.
  • The light was automated in 1987. The Fresnel lens was removed and was later put on display in the Custom House Maritime Museum. In 1989 a grant was received to make improvements to the lighthouse. Windows were uncovered, a new stairway to the boat ramp was built, a new sewage treatment plant. Later solar panels were added. The Coast Guard signed a 30 year lease with a non profit group New London Ledge Lighthouse Foundation. Volunteers continue to work on the lighthouse with hopes of opening it up to the public.
  • In 1990 the light was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Researched and written by Anne Puppa, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.