I was on Long Beach Island for the afternoon and had wanted to visit the Barnegat Light Museum on my last trip to the island but it was closed for the afternoon. When I checked the site to see if it was open this weekend, I found that it was and since I had to be in Beach Haven that afternoon I made it my first trip.
The museum is now open ‘by appointment only’ in the off season, so I called the number provided and the President of the Museum Board opened the museum up for me and gave me a personal tour. What an interesting little museum packed with information and artifacts.
The Barnegat Light Museum at 501 Central Avenue
The museum is a former one room school house that was built in 1903 and used by island school children until 1954. The building still houses the original heating unit, a coal burning furnace and books of the children’s notes from school that had been handwritten (now typed) of current events and school notes.
The main attraction is the original light, a 1052 prism lens, for the Barnegat Lighthouse on display since 1927. The glass panels and sheer size and beauty of light shows how it was once the beacon for ships along the New Jersey coast. It had been brought to museum after moving around to various places over the years.
The original Barnegat Light for the Lighthouse
Along the walls are all sorts of local artifacts such as dinosaur bones that had been found in the bay and donated to the museum (the president of the museum said today there are certain laws on this), local housewares from families that lived on the island and various types of fishing equipment.
Display cases filled with local artifacts
There is even a mini display of ‘Pound Fishing”, which is a series of poles and nets are used to catch the fisherman’s prey. This small display shows how it is constructed and used to catch the fish.
There is an extensive display of Duck decoys, showing the island’s past and present as a hunting ground for water fowl. The displays come in all colors and types of ducks.
There is an extensive history of the resort hotels that used to be on this part of the island that had been effected by the changing tides of the island. Like the old lighthouse and lighthouse keepers home, one of the hotels just gave way to erosion. This part of the island just keeps shifting.
Hotels disappeared because of shifting tides
There is a picture display of “Sinbad”, stowaway dog during WWII that became famous from stories written about him.
One beautiful benefit of the museum is the beautiful gardens that surround the museum. The pathways of flowers and decorative bushes are maintained by the Long Beach Island Garden Club. These wondering paths surround the property and especially elegant looking in the back of the building.
The gardens that surround the museum are maintained by the Long Beach Island Garden Club.
In the off season, you can visit the museum by calling ahead and you can schedule an appointment with the staff of volunteers that work at the museum.
I arranged a trip at the last minute and the president of the museum gave me a personal tour and history of the museum that was so interesting. It was nice to see the museum on a one on one basis.
It is such an interesting piece of Jersey Shore history.
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.
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 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 though 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.
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).
I recently visited the Hudson River Maritime Museum after a boat cruise around the Hudson River and I found this wonderful little under-rated museum to packed with information not just about the history of the Hudson River Valley but the rich history of boating and boat building, the economic impact of the area in mining, brick building, ice manufacturing and cement development.
It was interesting to see how the natural wonders of the area have given the rise to so much development in not just building the area but its long lasting contribution to New York City.
One part of the museum is dedicated to transportation up and down the river with sailing and steamboats in the forefront especially how the luxury steamboat industry went full force until about 60 years ago. It was considered the nicest form of transportation to and from New York City. It was interesting how the modern train and car lead to the demise of something that today would be embraced as unique and fun.
Another part of the museum was dedicated to the history and development of the area from the Native American tribes living along the shore and the Dutch settlements to the rise of modern development of manufacturing along the shores to its after effects and clean up in the 1960’s and 70’s.
There were really nice displays on the ship building, sail companies and maritime industries that supported them. The manufacture of raw materials and building supplies because of the natural resources of the Hudson River Valley show how rich in minerals, clay, cement and stone from the cliffs built New York City and how they nearly destroyed nature.
The displays tell the stories of activists who saved the area, Robber Barons that exploited it and the everyday people who contributed to making the valley the interesting place that it is today. It showed how protests and free speech saved the Valley from devastating development.
With each room at the museum, there is a story to tell and pictures to explain why the Hudson River Valley and the Kingston Roundout is such an interesting place to see.
Take time to guide through the rooms and read the signs and stories. There is a lot to see and do here and make sure to leave plenty of time to walk the grounds and see the tug boat and sailing displays and walk the river front. It makes for an interesting afternoon.
History of the Hudson River Maritime Museum
(This information was taken from the Museum’s website and pamphlet)
Hudson River Maritime Museum
The Hudson River Maritime is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries and related industries.
Ship building was very important in the region
The Hudson River Maritime Museum was founded in 1980 to preserve the history and maritime heritage of the Hudson River. Our collections range from steamboats, tugboats and sailboats to the canal system and waterfront industries, dating back to the early 19th Century.
The outdoor tugboat display
The museum has a library and archives open to researches by appointment. Some of our collections have been digitized and are available online at http://www.hrvh.org/hrmmkingston.
Passenger steam boats, Hudson River rowing, ferries, ecology and conservation, ice boats, tugboats, fishing, ice harvesting, brick making, early exploration, cement production, lighthouses and more. HRMM features a new temporary exhibit every year. Information on exhibits, including online exhibits is available at hrmm.org.
Some of the attributes of the museum:
Wooden Boat School:
The Wooden Boat School was opened by the Hudson River Maritime Museum to preserve the rich boat building heritage of the Hudson River Valley. Wooden boat building occurred on Roundout Creek in particular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries including World War I & II and the Korean War.
Today, the Wooden Boat School offers adult classes, Youthboat program for teens and serves as the headquarters fro the Sailing & Rowing School, Sea Scouts Ship 609 and the Kingston Sailing Club.
Kingston Home Port:
A timber framed carbon neutral structure, the Kingston Home Port and Education Center was completed in 2012 to serve as the winter home port and maintenance center for HHRM partner the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater during the winter season. During the summer months, the Home Port serves as an event, lecture and educational space for the museum.
The Kingston Home Port also functions as the main operational headquarters for the Roundout Rowing Club and the Kingston High School Crew Team.
The Hudson River Valley in all its glory
The Hudson River Maritime Museum (HRMM) features a variety of programs and events throughout the year including:
*Local History tours, including guided walking and car tours.
*Woodworking, maritime art and boat building classes at the Wooden Boat School
*Sailing, boating and rowing classes at the Sailing & Rowing School
This is the best way to experience seeing the Hudson River by walking on top of it. It is especially nice on a beautiful day.
The day I walked over the “Walkway over the Hudson” it was a rather cool September day in the last days of the summer but still it was a spectacular day to see the river with blue skies and sunshine.
The views are just amazing
On both sides of the bridge, there are small parks to sit and relax. There are signs all over the bridge to tell the story of the bridge and the people who helped save it. The best part is to just sit around the rails and see the views of the Hudson River.
What is nice too is when you are leaving the Walkway is that you can tour Little Italy and Downtown Poughkeepsie. The Riverfront area of the City is changing quickly and new bars and restaurants are opening.
The towns and neighborhoods to visit after leaving the Walkway
The history of the ‘Walkway Across the Hudson’:
The bridge now known as the Walkway Over the Hudson opened in 1889 as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge to transport western raw materials to eastern industrial centers. Rosendale cement was used in the original construction of the piers. At the same time of its opening, it was the longest bridge in the world.
In addition to freight trains, the bridge hosted passenger trains connecting Boston, New York, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington as early as 1890. Trolley cars termed “rapid transit” were modified to run on both trolley and railroad tracks and served tourists, students and shoppers (from New Paltz to Lucky Platt’s). Special West Point Football trains ran from 1921-1930. Circus trains, milk trains, trains for hogs and cattle-the uses were varied and the impact was huge. At its peak as many as 3,500 rail cars crossed the bridge each day.
There were two sets of tracks until 1918 when gauntlet track, also called interleaved track, was installed to handle the weight of diesel locomotives. It was removed in 1958.
During World War II the bridge was painted black to make it less visible in the event of an attack. Painting continued until the 1960’s. The high quality of the steel used in the original construction does not need to be painted. Metal experts during reconstruction stated that the absence of paint in fact helped keep the steel in the good condition it is in today.
The fire that destroyed the tracks in 1974 was probably started by a spark from a train’s brakes. From Carleton Mabee’s ‘Bridging the Hudson’, page 247: “An hour after a Penn Central train with 100 cars crossed the bridge on May 8, 1974, a thick cloud of black smoke hung over the bridge. Wooden ties were smoldering and wooden walkways were burning, fanned by a moderate breeze. Because Penn Central had no guards or maintenance men on the bridge at the time, the fire was not quickly reported. When firemen arrived at the site, they found they could not easily pump water up to the top of such a high bridge.
When firemen arrived arrived at the site, they found they could not easily pump water up to the top of such a high bridge. When they tried turning on the water to flow into the bridge. When they tried turning on the water to flow into the steel pipe which ran the length of the bridge, a line meant to help fight fires, they found that because it had not been drained the previous winter, it had burst at several points-Penn Central had known it but had not repaired it.”
It was rebuilt and re-opened in October 2009 as the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park thanks to the efforts of a dedicated friends group, the Dyson Foundation, many donors and New York State.
At 212 feet above the Hudson River, this 1.28 mile linear park boasts scenic views north to the Catskills and south to the Hudson Highlands.
The Walkway is amazing on a sunny day
The Walkway is part of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Network and was inducted into the Rail-Train of Fame in 2016, it connects Ulster County’s Hudson Valley Rail Train to the William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail.
The ADA compliant 21 story glass elevator provides seasonal access from Poughkeepsie waterfront at Upper Landing Park a short walk from the Metro North train station.
The Walkway welcomes more than 500,000 visitors annually from all over the world who enjoy walking, cycling and running amidst its scenic beauty.
Today, the Walkway is operated and owned by NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the NYS Bridge Authority it is open year round, offering programs, events and tours made possible through membership and donations to the Walkway organization.
(This information was taken from the Walkway over the Hudson website and pamphlet and I give them full credit for all of this information).