Thames River Lights Series  LbNA # 2954 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateJul 26 2002
CountyNew London
LocationGroton, CT
Found By oceanlover
Last Found Jun 30 2010
Hike Distance?

The Thames River enters Long Island Sound between New London on the west bank and Groton on the east. The area is home to several historic and beautiful lighthouses.

Sadly, both New London Harbor and Race Rock confirmed missing as of 10/8/04. I will recarve and replace as soon as I can. New log books were placed in New London Harbor and New London Ledge on 9/11/03. I recarved both stamps as well but the boxes remain in their original locations. The third box, Race Rock Light Letterbox, was added to the series on 9/11/03.

Begin your hunt on the Groton side of the river, on the Avery Point campus of the University of CT. Enter the campus through the main gate and proceed to the gazebo. From the gazebo a large willow bears 330 degrees. At the base of the willow you have a beautiful view of
the New London Harbor Light on the western shore and the New London Ledge Light to the south in the middle of the river.

New London Harbor Light was built in 1760, the fourth light in the newly established colonies. In 1789 the first United States Congress passed legislation placing its maintenance and control in the hands of the newly created federal government. Substantial renovation and
alterations were done in 1800, 1833, and 1855. It remains an active aid to navigation, a welcome beacon to many a returning submariner, standing 89' above water with equal interval white, red sector every 6 seconds. Range white 14 nautical miles, red 11 nm.

To find the New London Harbor Light Letterbox, bear 350 degrees from the willow to the corner of the retaining wall. The box is hidden among the boulders just to the left of the edge of the wall.

Then walk along the gravel foot path that follows the water's edge south and east. Pause at the observation platform for a view of several more distant lighthouses. On a clear day, at least 6 lighthouses are visible from this point. From east to west they are Avery Point Light, Race Rock Light, North Dumpling Light, Little Gull
Light, New London Ledge Light, and New London Harbor Light.

Continue walking to the south on the foot path until you can sit at the base of a lighthouse. This is Avery Point Light, built in 1943, the youngest lighthouse in CT. Built as a memorial to lighthouse keepers, it was lit from 1944 to 1967 but never officially accepted as an aid to navigation. It is being renovated. Consider buying a brick to help fund the restortation.

From the base of Avery Point Light, New London Ledge Light is clearly visible in the Thames River. It was built in 1909 in the French Second Empire style. It was automated in 1987, the last occupied lighthouse in Long Island Sound. Persistent rumors say it has been occupied since by Ernie, the mischievous ghost of a former keeper.
It remains an active aid to navigation, standing 59' above water flashing 3 white + 1 red every 30 seconds with a range of 17 nm white and 16 nm red.

To locate the New London Ledge Light Letterbox, proceed down 13 pink granite steps and sit on the retaining wall with the Ledge Light bearing 250 degrees over your left shoulder. The box is within reach behind the wall under rocks and cinder block pieces.
(As of 9/11/03, the renovation makes it impossible to walk down the steps, but they are easily seen. There is a construction trailer parked next to the retaining wall, but if you sit at the end of the trailer, the box can be reached in the location described above.)

Race Rock Light stands at the mouth of the Thames where it meets Fisher's Island Sound. The Race is an area of strong rip tides and swirls where the tide is constricted as it moves in and out of the sound. Before the lighthouse was built, it was the site of hundreds of shipwrecks.

Race Rock Light is a wave-swept light, meaning it is built on a rock rather than on solid ground. A true engineering marvel, it was built by Francis H. Smith who later built the base for the Statue of Liberty. The original structure remains intact, standing 67 feet above the water. It was lit on January 1, 1879 and automated in November, 1978. It flashes red every 10 seconds with a range of 19 nm. It was the last of the masonry lights and has many handsome Gothic Revival architectural details that are difficult to appreciate from land.

To find the Race Rock Light Letterbox, you must go from Desert Storm to Sea Fever, then pause for a rest. Race Rock Light bears roughly 185 and so does your reward. Grass to granite, 5 paces to the left.

Return to your starting point by a route of your choosing.