Finns Point Lighthouse
Fort Mott & Lighthouse Roads
Pennsville, NJ 08070
Hours: Sunday-Saturday (Open with Fort Mott State Park-Lighthouse Currently closed, check the website of the park)
Admission: Free when open
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Finns Point Lighthouse is located in the Fort Mott State Park and the afternoon that I was there which was the third Sunday of the month of June, it was not open. In fact, it looked like it had never opened for the day.
The gift shop/information center had a sign from 2019 with the hours of operation and the steps were not well cared for and the gardens around the building were over-grown. The lighthouse itself is behind a fence that you can look at but not enter and from what I read online is not open even when it should be if it is too hot or too cold because conditions inside can be impossible. From what I have read from online reviews, it looks like it has not been open since pre-COVID for the 2019 season.
Still, the lighthouse has a majestic look to it and must have some views when it is open. If it is not open, take time to visit Fort Mott and the State Park, which offers spectacular views of Delaware Bay and the surrounding grouds. Take time to explore the fort and the where the guns were mounted. Very interesting.
Fort Mott also has a very good Visitors Center and small museum inside to see the history of the fort, artifacts from the fort and from the war years and all sorts of interesting information on the area.
The Finns Point Lighthouse
The History of the Finns Point Lighthouse”
(From the Friends of the Finns Point Lighthouse website-modified):
(Please read the above Friends Website for the complete history in detail of the ligthouse)
Soon after the 1638 landing of the Finnish colonists near the present site of Wilmington, DE, a small group of settlers crossed over to the east bank of Delaware River, where the land was though to be more fertile and established farms. One group selected land near the sweeping turn in the Delaware River and this area remains known to this day as Finns Point.
By an act of Congress in 1875, $55,000 was set apart for two pairs of range lights to help vessels transition from Delaware Bay into the Delaware River. Port Penn Range, located in Delaware, would guide traffic along the shipping channel from Ship John Shoal to Ready Island, while Finns Point Range would help vessels continue upriver, passing between Reedy Island and Baker Shoal.
Lt. Colonel William F. Reynolds of the U.S. Corps of Engineers oversaw construction of the front and rear range lights at Finns Point. The front light was located near the banks of the Delaware River and was displayed from a frame dwelling of the following description: “one and one half stories high with shingle roof, double weather-boarded on outside and lathed and plastered inside. Its rests on stone walls founded on wooden piles. The first story is divided into three rooms with the hall and stairways to the second floor and cellar and shed over the back door, porch and bay window in the front. The second story is divided similarly to the first, with a step ladder to lantern on the third floor, a gallery supported by brackets surrounds the lantern on front and sides.”
The illuminating apparatus for the front light was a fourth order range lens manufacured by Barbier & Fenestre in Paris, which focused the light from a fourth-order Funk Heap Lamp with one wick. In 1882, a “wooden screen painted white, with open spaces so as to show horizontal stripes” was placed atop the front lighthouse’s red tavern room to make the structure more conspicious during the day. The daymark was removed in 1897.
Three acres of land, roughly one and a half miles inland from the front ligth, were purchased from Joshua and Mary Dickinson on April 20th, 1876 as the site for the rear range light. To provide a focal plane higher than that of the front light, the project plans called for a tall, wrought iron tower to be used for displaying the rear light. The Kellogg Bridge Company of Buffalo, NY was contracted to manufacture the components of the wrought tower, which were then transported to Salem, NJ by railcar. From Salem, teams of mules pulled large wagons loaded with pieces of the iron tower to the construction site.
A frame keeper’s dwelling was built just west of the tower, along with a wood-framed privy and an oil house. The first keeper of Finns Point Rear Range Light was Edward Dickerson, who started serving on December 8th, 1876 event though the light was not lit until April 2nd, 1877.
Fast forward to the 1970’s when the old dwelling was razed because it was unsafe but locals showed an interesting in the lighthouse and having it moved. Resident Betty Husarik formed the “Save the Lighthouse Committee”. They faulted in moving the ligthouse but placed it on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1978.
In 1981, the committee set out to Washington DC to meet with their local congressman and the drive resulted in a contract for $33,600 being signed between the US Fish and Wildlife Service, on whose land the tower now stood and K & K Painting Company of Baltimore to have the tower repairs, sandblasted and painted. An open house was held at the tower on October 14th, 1984 to honor the determined effort shown by the “Save the Lighthouse Committee” and others in restoring the tower.
Today it is opened for limited tours and special events.