Category: Exploring Stone Harbor, NJ

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum                     500 Forrestal Road                                                                Cape May Airport, Rio Grande, NJ 08242

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum 500 Forrestal Road Cape May Airport, Rio Grande, NJ 08242

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

500 Forrestal Road

Cape May Airport

Rio Grande, NJ 08242

(609) 886-8787

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm

https://usnasw.org/

https://www.facebook.com/aviationmuseum/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d1881607-Reviews-Naval_Air_Station_Wildwood_Aviation_Museum-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is located at the back of the Cape May Airport. Just follow the road to the back of the airport at 500 Forrestal Road in Hangar #1.

This interesting museum is a treasure trove of artifacts from WWII to today from jeeps to cars and trucks to airplanes. Some of the vehicles you can step into and see what it was like to ride these pieces of aviation history.

The displays are very interactive

There are several airplanes that with the assistance of the staff you can enter and see what air travel was like for these pilots. All the planes have been carefully restored and displayed for viewing and use by tourists. There is even a air traffic control tower you can enter and see how thing the functioning of the tower was done. These displays were interactive from the perspective of the people who once worked there.

The Air Traffic Control Tower is really interesting to enter

In the front of the museum as you enter, along the ways there is a display of the history of the Naval Hangar and how it developed and became part of the community. There were pictures of members walking the boardwalk in Wildwood and having a good time. There were stories of many interactions between the sailors and the locals and what an exciting time it was for everyone.

Many local heroes stories were told all over the building of Navy personal from the area and the part that they played in the war years and when they returned. Each story board told of their early lives, how they got involved in the war, the roles that played and jobs that were accomplished and what their lives were like when they returned. The mindset of this generation is very different than from today.

What I really enjoyed was the documentary “Boatlift”, the story of the 9/11 rescue of thousands of people off Manhattan island on 9/11 (it was around the 20th Anniversary of the event when I toured the museum) and the bravery and involvement of boaters and sailors all over the New York maritime region. Hundreds of boats were involved in getting people to safety to New Jersey and other parts of the NYC. It was a lesson in selflessness and involvement in one of the darkest days of American history.

Outside the hangar, there are more planes to tour and equipment that is used. Each display is carefully explained of its role in the armed forces so take the time to read the plaques as well.

Outside Hangar #1

Inside the building towards the back, there is a display of commercial establishments and even the role of Coca Cola during the war and it being used in the ration boxes of the men and women fighting for our country. There were pictures of USO dances and get togethers and parties for the enlisted men.

There is even a space shuttle piece to explore and admire showing our progression into different types of transportation over time. The museum has carefully displayed items so that there is an order to follow around the room to admire each piece. Take the time to look them over and read about them.

This museum is an interesting step back in time to show the role New Jersey and Cape May County played during the war years and then going forward.

The Mission of the Museum:

Restoring Hangar #1, educating the public on Cape May Country’s history during WWII and memorializing the 42 naval aviators who were training at the Naval Air Station Wildwood.

The History of the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum:

(Taken from the Museum website)

WWII:

Following the outbreak of World War II, this all wood double wide aircraft hangar was assembled by the U.S. Navy in 1942 from a kit delivered via railroad. On April 1st, 1943, NAS Wildwood was commissioned as a training facility for dive bomber squadrons that would go on to fight in the Pacific. Between 1943 and 1945, activities included night flying and target practice over the Delaware Bay, reaching a peak of almost 17.000 takeoffs and landings in the month of October 1944. Before NAS Wildwood was decommissioned, 129 crashes occurred and 42 airmen died in training exercises.

Following World War II, United States Overseas Airlines was operated out of Hangar #1, offering both national and international charter flights. The airline was owned by Dr. Ralph Cox, a dentist and U.S. navy pilot during WWII. Cox also used the hanger to display his collection of early automobiles and other transportation memorabilia including a steam locomotive.

1970-1990:

Southern Jersey Airways operated a commuter airline known as the Allegheny Commuter out of the Cape May Airport. The service was started by Captain Curt Young, ho was a bomber pilot during WWII. The Allegheny Commuter offered twenty-two daily flights between Atlantic City and Philadelphia as well as eight round trips out of Cape May.

1997-Present:

After many years of neglect, Hangar #1 was rediscovered by Dr. Joseph Salvatore and his wife, Patricia Anne, who acquired the building from Cape May County for $1.00. Listed on both the state and national registers of historic places, Hangar #1 is an exhibit in and of itself. Since 1997, the Salvatore’s and the NASW Foundation have worked hard to restore the hangar to its original condition. Today, Hangar #1 is open to the public as part of the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum.

Stone Harbor Museum                                                           9410 Second Avenue                                                              Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

Stone Harbor Museum 9410 Second Avenue Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

Stone Harbor Museum

9410 Second Avenue

Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

(609) 368-7500

https://stoneharbormuseum.org/

https://www.facebook.com/stoneharbormuseum/

My review on TripAdvisor”

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46850-d12832764-Reviews-Stone_Harbor_Museum-Stone_Harbor_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The entrance to the Stone Harbor Museum at 9410 Second Avenue

On a recent trip to the Jersey Shore, I took an long drive down the coastline visiting small historical museums of the shore towns and they gave me an interesting perspective of how these towns were developed from the time of Native American fishing and hunting villages to the advent of railroads and Victorian hotels to the modern development of the town today. Stone Harbor, NJ has had an interesting path since its development in the late 1800’s.

The Stone Harbor Museum was founded in 1996 by a group of involved residents who wanted to showcase their town’s history. The current museum was opened in 2016 and has many different exhibitions going on, some permanent and others are seasonal and keep rotating within the museum. When you walk in, the museum is divided by sections and displays of their museum.

Leading into the entrance, there was a very interesting exhibit on “9/11” for the Twentieth Anniversary of the event by a Chief from the Stone Harbor Fire Department. It was a series of articles from local and national papers, some artifacts and information on the fire service. It was a very touching reminder of what fire fighters did that horrible day.

There were many displays on the history of Stone Harbor with the Stone Harbor School System and the Borough of Stone Harbor exhibiting artifacts. Interesting pictures and items of the Stone Harbor Beach Patrol were proudly displayed which I noticed from my many stops at various historical societies on the Jersey Shore is very much a part of the town culture. These teams take their competitions amongst the towns very seriously with events like boating and swimming.

There were many pictures of old homes at a time when the town was a Victorian beach resort and people came to the Jersey shore for extended vacations. You could see the progression of the town over a century from a seaside resort to a permanent residential town. The architecture has significantly changed over the years to slightly smaller homes but no less impressive all over the town.

There were extensive pictures and displays of the importance of the rail system and the role it played in the growth of the area and to all shore communities. Its history pretty much ended with the advent of the Model T and the growth of cars to the Jersey shore. Soon the modern highways made the rail system obsolete.

Ladies at the shore enjoying a ride

Still there are many displays of ‘fun in the sun’ and the growth of beach activities and recreation with the growth of sun bathing, swimming, boating and fishing. People’s leisure time was growing and the Jersey shore filled their time with sun bathing and swimming. The changes of attitude in swimwear have been tremendous especially from the one piece and hats to the modern bikini in just 80 years.

Swimwear at the turn of the last century

There were pictures and artifacts from various shipwrecks off the coast of the town. It showcased the maritime history of the town and of the Jersey shore in general. It showed the importance of the town in a era of trade that is long gone. This shipping lines too became obsolete as rail service replaced them.

There was a interesting collection of items entitled Church and Faith of all the churches in the town that played such a important role in the social life of the turn of the last century. This was a time before TV, radio, the advent of movies and especially the Internet. This was at time when people’s social life revolved the social life of places of worship.

In the center of the museum there is an extensive library with shelves lined with notebooks full of pictures and historical details neatly bound. This is the records of the town and the citizens who have lived here over the years.

On top of the 9/11 exhibition, another interesting exhibition was entitled “The Residents of 81st Street”, on the history of the Black community of the town at the turn of the last century. This was a thriving middle class community that there own social life as well their contributions to the town of Stone Harbor.

The one thing I liked about the museum is that it does not overwhelm you when you are visiting. The exhibits are detailed but compact. You learn a lot about the town with enough information and artifacts but you can still enjoy the display in about twenty minutes to about a half hour. The whole museum takes about an hour to two hours to visit maybe more if you are really enjoying yourself.

The staff could not have been nicer and take such pride in the museum. The afternoon I visited the museum one of the long time residents who volunteers at the museum was able to share her knowledge of the town. For a small town, it is chockful of interesting history.

The Stone Harbor Museum History:

(from their website and pamphlets)

The Mission:

To acquire, preserve, display, celebrate and promote archival and artifact items relevant to the development of our unique cultural heritage and to delight, inspire and educate the present and future generations about the story of Stone Harbor, NJ.

The Vision:

To be inviting, informative and innovative community resource that is recognized and respected as the place for exploring and celebrating rich cultural heritage of Stone Harbor, NJ.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park                                           208 Broadway                                             Barnegat, NJ 08006

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park 208 Broadway Barnegat, NJ 08006

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

208 Broadway

Barnegat, NJ 08006

(609) 494-2016

https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/barnlig.html

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-8:00pm

Fee: Free off season/ Check Website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d286497-Reviews-Barnegat_Lighthouse_State_Park-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I was able to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on a recent trip to Long Beach and what a beautiful park with wonderful views of the inlet and of the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2020, the lighthouse is closed because of COVID so I will have to wait in the future to climb the stairs which is noted for people who like to explore lighthouses but still you are able to admire the building from the outside.

The Bar

The Barnegat Lighthouse on the inlet side

There is a walking path through the bush areas of dunes. You need to keep yourself socially distanced at this time as you admire the trees and what is left at this point of the season of flowering plants. It was interesting to read how these species survive the ocean and salt air. It is amazing how these plants can survive the storms and how they keep the beach from eroding.

The Maritime Forest Trail is a 1/5 mile long, self-guided loop through one of the last remnants of maritime forest in New Jersey. The forest, which is dominated by black cherry, sassafras, eastern red cedar and American Holly, which is an important resting and feeding area for migratory birds on their long journey to and from their breeding areas (Park Literature).

It is also the home for migrating birds. There were all sorts of ducks swimming around and there a a bird that looked like a crane who looked like it was getting vain from all the pictures that people were taking of it.

The park has a 1033 foot concrete walkway that the fisherman use and people were sitting along the benches watching people fish and boaters come and go from the inlet. The walkway was a nice place to see the waves crash along the sides of the park.

I just saw a lot of dumb people walking along the wet rocks with waves crashing by which is not smart. Still you got great views of Seaside Park and the Atlantic Ocean from this part of the park. It is fun watching the fisherman casting lines, sharing stories and the fishing boats in the distance go out to sea close to the beach.

On a nice day take the time to walk through the nature trails and the dunes that face the ocean. It is a small but interesting trail with all sorts of native plants and a very nice description that the park gives you about each and their place at the shore. Each has a place with the wild life and the migration patterns for birds on their way to their next home. It shows what an important place that New Jersey serves for wildlife.

I revisited the park in November of 2021 and on a very windy day, the lighthouse was open and I finally made my way to the top. It was quite a hike up those narrow stairs on a extremely windy day but I made it to the top in about fifteen minutes. Along the way, there was small landings with sweeping views of the ocean.

Once to the top, there was a landing that surrounded the top of the lighthouse with views of the park and lagoon areas and the surrounding tip of the island. The strong winds prevented me from staying there too long plus there was not much space to move around and you felt like you were caged in but the views were spectacular. I made it down in ten minutes since there were only six other people there.

It was nice of them to finally open the lighthouse.

The History of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park:

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, located on the northern tip of Long Beach Island along the New Jersey Atlantic coastline, is one of New Jersey’s most recognized landmarks and a veteran of service to seafarers for 68 years. The park is easily accessible from the Garden State Parkway by taking exit 63 and following Route 72 east to Long Beach Boulevard northbound.

Park visitors can picnic, sunbathe, fish, bird watch, climb the historic lighthouse (post COVID), walk the Interpretive Center (post COVID) and enjoy the seashore. Swimming, however is not permitted. Barnegat Lighthouse is included as a maritime site on the New Jersey Heritage Trail Route (Barnegat Lighthouse State Park Pamphlet).

The beauty of the park in the later afternoon

Barnegat Lighthouse stands on the south side of Barnegat Inlet, The inlet was named “Barendegat” or “Breakers Inlet” by early Dutch explorers because of the large cresting waves that made navigation difficult. The site of the lighthouse was considered on of the most important “change of course” points along the eastern seacoast for vessels sailing to New York from Europe. Sailors depended on Barnegat Lighthouse as a navigational aide to assist them in reaching their posts and to avoid the dangerous shoals that extended from the shore.

In 1834, the U.S. Congress appropriated $6,000 to establish a lighthouse as Barnegat Inlet. The lighthouse was completed and placed into service in July of 1835. At only 40 feet tall with a non-blinking light, the first lighthouse at Barnegat Inlet was a miserable failure doing little to reduce the number of shipwrecks. In 1856, guided by recommendations from then Lieutenant George G. Meade of the U.S. Army Bureau of Topographical Engineers, Congress appropriated another $60,000 to construct a “first class light” at Barnegat Inlet.

Lieutenant Meade drew up the plans and Lieutenant W.S. Raynolds supervised the construction of the new lighthouse. On the night of January 1, 1859, the majestic new Barnegat Lighthouse was lit for the first time. Its first order Fresnel lens, at 175 feet above sea level was so powerful that it could be seen for 19 nautical miles.

The lens was made in 1856 by Henri Le Paute of Paris, France from glass produced at the famous furnace at St. Gobian. The beehive-shaped Fresnel lens is six feet in diameter, ten feet high and is formed from over 1,000 separate glass prisms and twenty four bull’s eye lenses mounted in a brass frame. It weighs nearly five tons. Today the lens is on display in the Barnegat Light Historical Museum on Central Avenue and 5th Street in Barnegat Light, New Jersey. For hours of operation, please call the museum at (609) 494-8578.

Turned by a clockwork mechanism, the lens rotated once every four minutes. The speed of the rotation and the 24 individual beams of light from the 24 bull’s eye lens gave Barnegat Lighthouse it’s characteristic” of one flash every ten seconds.

At the turn of the century, due to the encroaching sea and seemingly inevitable collapse, the Lighthouse Board considered abandoning Barnegat Lighthouse and replacing it with a lightship anchored off the coast. The popularity of the lighthouse as a landmark caused the Lighthouse Board to reconsider their plan and to erect temporary measures to hold back the sea. Later, local residents raised two thousand dollars to construct permanent jetties to protect the lighthouse.

In 1926, Barnegat Lighthouse and surrounding property were transferred from the Federal government to the State of New Jersey… to maintain this reservation for historical purposes and for the preservation of the lighthouse tower. The lighthouse was decommissioned and replaced by the Barnegat Lightship in 1927. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park opened to the public in 1957.

A bust of General George G. Meade was unveiled at the dedication ceremony in honor of his distinguished service during the Civil War as the Commanding General of Federal troops at the Battle of Gettysburg and for his role at Barnegat Lighthouse.

The bust of General George G. Meade in front of the lighthouse entrance

Today, the beloved Barnegat Lighthouse is shining again thanks to the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park who purchased a new lens that casts a single beam visible up to 22 nautical miles. The new light was illuminated at a ceremony on January 1, 2009 exactly 150 years to the day that it was originally lit in 1859 with over 1200 people witnessing the lighthouse becoming an official aid to navigation once again.

The lighthouse and the park in its glory

(This information comes from a combination of the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park pamphlet and website/Wiki-I give them full credit for the information provided).

Doo Wop Preservation League Museum          4500 Ocean Avenue                                 Wildwood, NJ 08260

Doo Wop Preservation League Museum 4500 Ocean Avenue Wildwood, NJ 08260

Doo Wop Preservation League Museum

4500 Ocean Avenue

Wildwood, NJ  08260

(609) 523-1975

https://www.facebook.com/Doo-Wop-Preservation-League-The-Wildwoods-NJ-128130849267/

Open: Friday-Saturday 10:00am-2:00pm/ Closed Sunday-Thursday

Fee: Free but they ask for a donation

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46931-d283304-Reviews-The_Doo_Wop_Preservation_League_Museum-Wildwood_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I visited the Doo Wop Preservation League Museum when I was visiting Wildwood, NJ for the Firemen’s Convention. They were sponsoring the DJ on the stage behind the museum. It was easy to miss the museum with all the fire equipment around it and hundreds of firemen milling around.

Once inside, this small museum is a treasure trove of history of the resort motels that once lined the beaches of Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood. As time rolls on, many of these old motels, hotels and restaurants are giving way to condos, newer homes and new chain hotels changing the landscape of Wildwood. It is bringing it into modern times with newer looks.

Doo Wop Museum IV.jpg

The restaurant section of the Doo Wop Museum

When many of these motels are torn down, the establishments donate old furnishes, decorative objects and signs from the outside to the museum. The outside of the museum is decorated with signs of businesses that are now closed, there neon lights still shining but for a different purpose. These somewhat gaudy and over-grandised signs and looks were of a time of great optimism and travel. Since the middle and working class families did not have the money to travel to these exotic places, something similar was created for them in the Wildwoods bringing that look to the Jersey shore.

Doo Wop Museum II

The restaurant section of the Doo Wop Museum

When talking to the curators , a couple that ran the museum said that the museum represents the change in d├ęcor used after WWII when they used the neon lights and steel from the war into the signs and lighting of the new resorts. It was a unique style of the late 1950’s and 60’s, when these materials were plentiful and motel owners were getting creative to bring in the rising middle class tourists that could not afford the trips to Hawaii and Miami Beach. These owners brought these themes to Wildwood with a creative twist. Check out the signing and furniture that lines the walls and dining set ups of the museum.

The museum is small and takes only about an hour to walk through. Each of the vignettes are designed as its own room with furnishings from old hotels and motels like tables, chairs, lamps and ashtrays in one corner, in another are stools, a jukebox and menus from a 50’s or 60’s style restaurant or items used at the time like bicycles or scooters.

Doo Wop Museum III

The interesting preservation by the museum shows all over

The History of the Doo Wop Museum:

The Doo Wop Preservation League was founded in 1997 as a 501C3 to preserve  the 1950’s and 60’s architectural styles of the Wildwood’s. Doo Wop style is a combination of Space Age dreams of the late 60’s and the exotic seaside tropics of recently opened South Seas Islands  like Hawaii which became out 50th State in 1959.  The Polynesian look was very ‘in’ at this time as most people could not afford to go but wanted to replicated for them.

The museum is housed in the 1960’s ‘Space Age’ restaurant “The Surfside” that was saved from the wrecking ball and moved to this spot right across the Convention Center and the Boardwalk. On Tuesdays and Thursdays when in season (i.e. Warmer Months), there are bus tours offered by the museum. The museum’s goal is catalogue the remaining businesses in town that still keep their look of the era (Museum website and The Wildwooder Newspaper).

Don’t miss the museum tours:

The best part is that the museum is free (donation suggested) and you can take your time for a self-guided tour of the museum.