Bidding for Ram Island Ledge Light hit $175,000 Thursday afternoon, and two top bidders from Maine planned a meeting to determine whether they can cooperate to buy the wind- and wave-swept tower at the entrance to Portland Harbor.

The last bid, by local real estate developer Arthur Girard, kept the auction going for at least another 24 hours, potentially ending at 3 p.m. today.

Girard’s bid topped the $170,000 offered Thursday morning by “abcdefg” — apparently Dr. Jeffrey Florman of Windham.

Florman declined to say Thursday that he is “abcdefg,” but Beth Bernard, an aide to Girard, noted that once a bid under that name was made earlier this week, all of the previous bids by “JFlorman” on the online auction site were changed to “abcdefg.” Florman didn’t deny being “abcdefg.”

The auction is being run by the U.S. General Services Administration, which took title from the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard will continue to maintain the actual light and foghorn, but the ledge and the 77-foot tower are being sold, with uses limited by historic-preservation guidelines.

Florman said he and Girard will meet soon to discuss their bidding, although just after he said that, the $170,000 bid by “abcdefg” was eclipsed by Girard’s. Florman said he was aware that Girard was going to bid, to prevent the auction from ending at 3 p.m. Thursday.

He said he and Girard are concerned about the intentions of a third bidder, “tugdocto,” who bid $160,000 on Wednesday. Neither of them knows the identity of “tugdocto.”

Bernard noted that although Florman and Girard had agreed to meet, they hadn’t done so by Thursday afternoon. Girard and Florman have said their main motivation is to keep the lighthouse in the hands of Mainers.

Both said they also will discuss the lighthouse with Bob Muller, who is leading the hastily formed Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse Community, which has relied on social networking websites to raise pledges to buy the lighthouse.

Muller said the recent three-way bidding, which pushed the price from $150,000 to $175,000, has outpaced his ability to attract pledges.

“It zoomed past what we had, we got some more, and then it zoomed past what we had again,” Muller said.

He said he would like to set up a for-profit organization to sell “membership deeds” to pieces of the lighthouse. Muller estimates that, with parts of the ledge included in the sale, there are potentially 500,000 deeds that could be sold for as much as $49 each.

He said each buyer could get a deed, a bill of rights, voting rights and possibly a “passport.”

Money raised would go toward creating a website of the lighthouse with streaming video, audio and meteorological information from the ledge. The rest of the money would go into a trust fund for lighthouse upkeep and profits.

“I’m not a geek around lighthouses, but I’m a geek around this model,” Muller said.

Florman said he doesn’t have a strong interest in lighthouses per se. Neither he nor Girard took the Coast Guard’s trip to the lighthouse in August, when potential bidders were unable to dock and go ashore because of rough seas.

Florman said he became aware of the auction only when friends mentioned it.

Now, he said, “we’re all putting our heads together” to come up with a way to keep the lighthouse in Maine hands while providing for future upkeep of Ram Island Ledge Light.

“We don’t have a very strong interest in owning it for our personal stakes,” Florman said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]