Ram Island Lighthouse … I don’t get it
I note that there is a minor bidding war going on regarding the sale of the Ram Island Lighthouse in Casco Bay. Ummm … Can somebody explain to me why anybody would want to own this thing?
For those of you that missed it, here’s the backstory: The Coast Guard is selling the lighthouse in an auction with a $10,000 minimum bid. The winning bidder is required to perform upkeep on the lighthouse structure, but the Coast Guard itself will maintain the navigation aids. A handful of bids have already been submitted.
Just for the record, I’d like to point out that Ram Island isn’t really an island at all. It could be more accurately described as a pile of rocks whose tip is slightly exposed at low tide … usually. Similarly, the lighthouse itself appears to be strictly utilitarian. This is not some idyllic lighthouse out of a Norman Rockwell painting, with cozy little quarters for the salty old lighthouse keeper and his family: Based on the newspaper photos, Ram Island Light is a tiny stone structure, just large enough to contain the lighting apparatus and elevate it above rough seas. What’s more, it appears that Ram Island is so small and rugged that it isn’t even accessible for any practical purposes. In the story that got reported last week, a Coast Guard boat was unable to land on the island so that potential buyers could tour the property. I’m no sailor, but it seems to me that if the freakin’ Coast Guard can’t get you there, it doesn’t bode well for your weekend lighthouse getaway …
So … let’s review: You pony up 30 or 40 grand for the privilege of owning your own lighthouse. In return, you are legally required to maintain a 100 year old stone structure (in accordance with National Historic Landmark rules) on an island that can only be accessed via a Star Trek Transporter unit. Of course, if you don’t happen to have access to fictional travel systems, you won’t actually be able to visit your “island”. But you can take all the photographs you want to from a distance. Hey, wait a second, you can already do that now and it doesn’t cost you a dime …?
It seems that now there’s a rampant fear among the local lighthouse enthusiasts that Ram Island Light will be purchased by someone from out-of-state. Consequently, somebody in Portland has stepped up with a plan to raise money by selling “shares” in the lighthouse to finance a purchase. This gentleman has suggested in the press that he intends to make the lighthouse a web destination by installing remote video and audio feeds. Wow, YouTube better watch its back …
Never underestimate the power of anything connected with a lighthouse to make people piss away their money.