PORTLAND, Maine — The property has a million-dollar view, but the quarters are cramped, the grounds are nothing to brag about and a loud fog horn blares every 10 seconds.
For the right price, the picturesque Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse can be yours. The 72-foot conical light tower in waters a mile off the southern Maine coast is being auctioned by the federal government.
The property isn’t for everybody. It’s hard to get to, located on a wave-swept rocky ledge where landing a boat can be treacherous. Once there, a person has to climb a 30-foot ladder to get into the tower. Inside, the circular rooms are small and bare. The yard, if you can call it that, is a ledge that is underwater half the time whenever the tide is up.
But the views of the rugged coast, the nearby islands and the open ocean are to die for, and the lighthouse oozes history — a reminder of an era gone by, when lighthouse keepers lived in isolation manning kerosene lamps and foghorns to keep mariners out of harm’s way.
“Some folks are in love with lighthouses and this is their chance not only to own a piece of history, but also to help it,” said Bob Trapani Jr., executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation, based in Rockland.
The Coast Guard has been unloading lighthouses for decades and now has at least eight of them for sale in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware and Wisconsin through an online auction run by the General Services Administration.
In Maine, the granite Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse was built in 1905 near the entrance to Portland Harbor. For the first 54 years, before becoming automated in 1959, the building was manned by lighthouse keepers who lived in the outpost for weeks at a time.
Whoever buys the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse will have to preserve the historical integrity of the structure while it continues being used as a Coast Guard navigational aid, complete with a light that flashes every six seconds and a horn that blares every 10 seconds.
So far only one bid, $10,000, has been made. A tour for prospective bidders is scheduled for later this month.
Trapani is hopeful an appropriate buyer can be found. “Otherwise, its future is extremely uncertain,” he said.
For more information or to place a bid, visit: http://www.auctionrp.com/