Ram Island Ledge Light
Ram Island Ledge Light will move onto the tax rolls because of its pending sale from the federal government to a doctor from Windham.
The question is, which tax rolls?
According to the online auction site set up by the U.S. General Services Administration, the lighthouse is at the entrance to Portland Harbor, off Cape Elizabeth.
The site says its street address is “Cumberland County,” and the city is Cape Elizabeth.
That’s news to Cape Elizabeth’s town manager.
“We don’t believe it’s in Cape Elizabeth,” said Mike McGovern. “We believe it’s in the city of Portland.”
Portland’s tax assessor, Richard Blackburn, said McGovern is probably right.
“There have been some questions” about which municipality the lighthouse is in, Blackburn said, and those questions have never been answered.
Click for the rest of this story by Edward D. Murphy in the Portland Press Herald.
Posted in Maine, Outdoors, Politics and government
Tagged bidder, bidding, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland County, Dr. Jeffrey Florman, lighthouse, Portland Harbor, tax assessor, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. General Services Administration, Windham
Ram Island Ledge Light
An anonymous bidder has raised the stakes in what appears to be a three-way struggle for ownership of a historic lighthouse off the coast of Cape Elizabeth.
The $35,000 bid, made online Thursday by a party known only as “tugdocto,” cast doubt on a Maine-based organization’s effort to acquire Ram Island Ledge Light.
Robert Muller of Brunswick, executive director of the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse Community, said his group must somehow raise $5,000 to $10,000 in the next day or two “to stay in the game” and put the lighthouse under public, locally based ownership.
“I really need to make up the gap with some large pledges,” he said.
Under federal rules, bidders have until 3 p.m. today to outbid tugdocto. Bids must be made in increments of at least $5,000.
If someone does outbid tugdocto today, the online auction will continue on to the next regular business day – Tuesday.
Click for the rest of the story by Dennis Hoey in the Portland Press Herald.
Anyone who wants to get more information or make a contribution can go to www.ramislandlighthouse.com, call (207) 956-0699 or e-mail Muller at bob@RamIslandLighthouse.com.
Posted in Environment, Maine, Outdoors
Tagged bidders, bidding, Cape Elizabeth, Keeper of the Lighthouse Membership deed, lighthouse, Maine coast, National Register of Historic Places, Ram Island Ledge Light, Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse Community, U.S. Coast Guard
Bidders drawn by the charm, desire to preserve Ram Island Ledge Light take a closer look at Casco Bay lighthouse
CASCO BAY – From his home in Cape Elizabeth, Scott Raspa can see Ram Island Ledge Light taking a pounding during nor’easters, or standing sentinel in calmer seas
On Thursday, the software consultant joined others on a Coast Guard vessel for a closer view of the lighthouse, about a mile northeast of Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. The visitors were registered bidders in a federal government auction of the five-story tower, which has helped mark the main channel to Portland Harbor since 1905.
Conserving the lighthouse was a common motive among the bidders. A couple of them also thought ownership of the lighthouse could dovetail with their business plans. One had a notion that it could serve as a bed and breakfast for adventurous types, but wasn’t yet certain what he would do. All seemed charmed by the prospect of owning a wind-swept lighthouse off Maine’s rocky coast.
The Coast Guard doesn’t have the budget to maintain all of the lighthouse towers that house navigational aids, which in this case consists of a light and a foghorn. Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, lighthouses are offered to groups such as local governments and nonprofits at no cost before being put up for auction. The Coast Guard continues to maintain the navigational aids in lighthouse towers that are sold.
Raspa likes the idea of being the owner of a nearby lighthouse, with all its mystery and history. He doesn’t yet have a concrete plan should that become the case.
“We were thinking about having cocktail parties there. I don’t know if that’s possible,” he said.
Click for the rest of the story by Ann S. Kim in the Portland Press Herald.
PORTLAND – Two young college friends, one of them a longtime summer resident of Peaks Island, died after setting out for a short kayak trip Sunday and apparently falling into the cold and choppy waters of Casco Bay.
Irina McEntee, 18, and Carissa Ireland, 20, were found about 9 a.m. Monday by Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews about three miles off Cape Elizabeth and seven miles south of the kayakers’ original destination, Ram Island.
The women, both wearing life jackets, shorts and light shirts, were severely hypothermic and unresponsive and had no apparent vital signs when they were pulled from the 48-degree water, the Coast Guard said.
A helicopter crew rushed them to Maine Medical Center, where doctors tried to resuscitate them before pronouncing the women dead about 9:30 a.m., according to a hospital spokesman.
Forty-eight degrees “is very, very cold,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Brian Downey. “Survivability is very short in that type of water condition.”
Click on the link for the rest of this story by John Richardson in the Portland Press Herald.
Posted in Environment, Maine, Outdoors
Tagged Cape Elizabeth, Casco Bay, college friends, hypothermia, hypothermic, kayak, kayakers, life jackets, Maine Island Kayak, Maine Marine Patrol, Maine Medical Center, Peaks Island, Portland, Ram Island, U.S. Coast Guard
[I attended the University of Southern Maine in the early 1980s and had the opportunity to take a ferry out to one of the 365 or so islands in Casco Bay. But I didn’t realize the significant military history associated with some of those islands. I enjoyed this story about some of the military forts that were built on those islands to ward off threat. — KM]
Karen Lannon and her brother Hal Cushing have perhaps the most unusual piece of waterfront property in Greater Portland: a twenty-four-acre island complete with an artillery-ready, three-bastion granite fort. The two-story fort is fully equipped with walls, parapets, parade ground, and cavernous munitions bunkers and is suitable for repulsing any hostile parties who might wish to attack the Old Port with nineteenth-century naval assets. All Lannon and Cushing would need to hold back the steamers of the old Spanish Navy is a shipment of ten- and fifteen-inch Rodman guns, sixty trained artillerymen, and a large supply of ammunition.
Fortunately, Casco Bay isn’t under any immediate threat, so the siblings concentrate on the more mundane responsibilities of fort ownership. They mow acres and acres of lawns — every few days in springtime, the grass grows so quickly — and keep the walkways and outbuildings maintained for the tour parties they bring over from the city four times a week in season. Over near the old Immigration and Quarantine station there are lobster bakes to stage and weddings to cater, but at least they don’t have to clean up oil spills anymore. After their mother, the late Hilda Cushing Dudley, purchased the fort in 1954 to save it from being torn down, the family would regularly have to clean up their beach whenever oil spilled from tankers at the South Portland terminals. (“When we get a spill we get down on our hands and knees and clean it up,” she told a reporter in 1977. “People aren’t going to come out here if there’s oil all over the beach.”)
Asked what the hardest thing about fort ownership is nowadays, Hal doesn’t have to think. “Paying the taxes,” he says emphatically, referring to the $35,000 annual bill from Portland, of which House Island and Fort Scammell are a part. “We don’t have any services, but we’re charged by the square foot so we’re in the top ten tax residents in the city.”
But previous custodians of Fort Scammell and the network of other fortifications protecting Maine’s largest port had even worse things than taxes to contend with. They were slaughtered in Indian attacks in the seventeenth century, bombarded by British cannons in the eighteenth, suffered for lack of supplies, heat, and entertainment in the nineteenth, and shot at by suspected spies in the early twentieth. On the eve of World War II, thousands of soldiers and sailors manned anti-aircraft guns, heavy artillery, watch towers, and the controls for remotely-detonated mines, alert for a Nazi surprise attack that fortunately never came.
Click on the link for the rest of this story by Colin Woodard in Down East magazine.
Posted in Maine history
Tagged American Merchant Marine Museum, anti-aircraft guns, bastion, block fort, bombardment, British, Cape Elizabeth, Casco Bay, Cow Island, Cushing Island, embargo, Federalists, Fort Levett, Fort Loyal, Fort Lyon, Fort McKinley, Fort Scammell, Fort Williams, French and Indian War, granite fort, Great Diamond Island, gun batteries, Hal Cushing, Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn, Hilda Cushing Dudley, HMS Canceaux, House Island, Jeffersonians, Jewell Island, Karen Lannon, minefield stations, Navy, Old Port, Peaks Island, Portland, Portland Head Light, radar stations, Rodman guns, ships, smugglers, Spanish-American War, Two Lights, U.S. Civil War, U.S. Secretary of War Henry Dearborn, University of Southern Maine, USS Kearsarge, War of 1812, warships, World War I, World War II