Category: Walking Downtown Wildwood 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.

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.

World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial  Sunset Boulevard Lower Township near Cape May Point, NJ 08204

World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial Sunset Boulevard Lower Township near Cape May Point, NJ 08204

World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial

Sunset Boulevard

Lower Township near Cape May Point, NJ 08204

(609) 884-5404/(800) 275-4278

http://www.capemaymac.org

https://www.capemaymac.org/world-war-ii-lookout-tower

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

Fee:  Adults $6.00, the first child free with paying adult and the next child $3.00 (3-12)/Veterans $3.00/Active Military Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d2256593-Reviews-World_War_II_Lookout_Tower-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

The World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial is an interesting look of how our armed forces used these towers to watch the coastlines for U-boats and enemy ships during the war. Several German submarines were spotted along the coasts of New York and New Jersey during the war and the threat of attack was uncertain. As the war progressed on though, we found that this was a war being fought in the air and these towers were actually obsolete by the end of the war.

World War II Lookout Tower.jpg

The World War II Tower

The tower is very interesting and very easy to climb. Don’t let the height fool you, there are only about a 100 stairs with landings on all three levels with displays on them.  The bottom level has a gift shop and display pictures of the history of the tower. The second level has shots of veterans of the wars before when the were enlisted and today (when they were much older). There were a lot of local veterans to the Cape May area.

World War II Tower

World War II Tower pictures

The top level was manned by a docent who talked about the history of the tower, provided pictures of the area before and after World War II and the role it played during the war. She discussed the only ship attack since Pearl Harbor was right off the coast of New Jersey as well as the ‘Blackouts’ that were conducted in town to stymie any attacks.

World Warr II Tower.jpg

World War II Tower

Take time to look over all the displays and pictures and the role Cape May had in the war to help protect the East Coast.

 

History of the World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial:

 

Why is Fire Control Tower No. 23 administered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC):

Like the Cape May Lighthouse, Fire Control Tower No. 23 is owned by the State of New Jersey (specifically the Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks). As was the case with the Lighthouse, the State lacks the funds to restore and operate these historic structures. Instead it has leased them to the area’s leading cultural and historic preservation organization, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). Founded in 1970, MAC saved and restored the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate and operates it as Cape May’s only Victorian house museum. Starting in 1986, MAC spent 15 years (and some $2 million) on the restoration of the Cape May Lighthouse.

In 2004, MAC signed a 20 year lease for Fire Control Tower No. 23. After raising one million dollars (from the New Jersey Historic Trust, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, a Small Cities Block Grant administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Lower Township and a Save America’s Treasures Grant administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior), MAC restored the Tower in 2008-09 and opened it to the public in April 2009. MAC is also mounting permanent Memorial Plaques in the Tower that will allow family members to honor veterans of any war or engagement.

(This information was taken from the World War II Lookout Tower pamphlet proved by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities)

Was Fire Control Tower No. 23 used for spotting fires?

No, it was used for spotting enemy ships during World War II and aiming guns to fire on them.

This Fire Tower was part of Fort Miles. So, where was Fort Miles anyway?

Fort Miles was never a building. It was a number of fire control towers, gun batteries plus barracks and support buildings on both sides of Delaware Bay. By World War II, the military used a spread-out series of towers and batteries, whose firing ranges overlapped to protect a large territory. Its largest guns and headquarters were located on the Delaware side (in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park), since the shipping channel hugs the Southern shore of Delaware Bay.

Were there any other Fire Control Towers?

Yes, there were originally 15 concrete fire control towers, 11 on the Delaware side and four here in New Jersey. Of the four in New Jersey, the ones in North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest have been destroyed, while the one on Beach Avenue in Cape May has been engulfed by the Grand Hotel (with only its top visible, sticking above the roof). One of the towers in Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware has been restored and opened to the public.

Were there any naval battles in the Delaware Bay?

No. German submarines sank many merchant vessels off the coast of Cape May but no German ships ever got up the Delaware River to attack the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia or Camden.

Was Fire Control Tower No 23 built here or prefabricated?

The Fire Control was built here in June, 1942 by using a sliding tube shaped form.  A ring of reinforced concrete was poured. When that solidified, the form was slid up and more concrete was poured. The whole Tower was formed this way except for the top, which required a form of its own. The whole process took only two and a half days.

Was the Cape May area important during World War II?

Yes, the Cape May area was a beehive of military activity during World War II. Cape May harbor had a Naval Air Station, a Coast Guard base and an airport. Naval Air Station Wildwood (where the County Airport is now) trained aircraft carrier pilots. Cape May Shipbuilders on Wilson Drive, where the Cape May Whale Watcher is now, built Navy tugboats and dredges. The Northwest Magnesite plant, which made an ingredient used in firebricks for steel mills, was located across Sunset Boulevard from Fire Control Tower No. 23.

(This information was taken from the World War II Tower pamphlet and I give them full credit for it.)

 

Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum            129 Engleside Avenue                                      Beach Haven, NJ 08008

Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum 129 Engleside Avenue Beach Haven, NJ 08008

Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum

129 Engleside Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ  08008

(609) 492-0700

http://www.lbimuseum.com/

Open: July and August Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm/June & September Saturday & Sunday 12:00pm-4:00pm. Special Appointments can be made at other times of the year and the museum is open for special events held by the town and for the holidays.

Fee: Adults: $5.00 donation/Children under 12 years old Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d11444615-Reviews-Long_Beach_Island_Historical_Museum-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

This seasonal museum is a ‘must see’ on Long Beach Island when visiting the town of Beach Haven. It is the perfect rainy day place to visit. The museum covers all aspects of the history of the island from its time when the Native Americans lived and fished here to the coming of the English. The museum shows in pictures and artifacts how the island was developed into a Summer resort retreat catering to middle class and wealthy tourist mostly from Philadelphia.

Long Beach Island Museum

The Long Beach Island

The artifacts range from arrowheads and fishing equipment that the Native Americans left behind to a recent discovery of an old wooden boat created by the Lenni-Lenape  tribe. The museum describes in detail life in the Victorian Age on the island with a series of pictures of the old resort hotels, most of which have burned down over the last 100 years, to artifacts that from this time including china, silver and menus from the hotels. There is also a creation of a Victorian room, a telephone operator office, rail office and a children’s toy display from that time.

Long Beach Island Museum II

The Front Room of the museum

This is an interesting display of the fishing industry on the island as well. There is all sorts of equipment that has been used over the last 100 years and the progress that has been made in the industry. There are exhibits on the whaling industry and its lasting affects on the island. There is also the story of the shifting of the tides and the disappearance of Tucker’s Island, a small island to the south of Long Beach Island that has since disappeared underwater due to the shift in the currents.

Each area of the museum contains interesting pieces of the island’s past and you should take the time to look at each section carefully. For such a small museum, it is packed with interesting facts and a fascinating story of the development of the New Jersey shoreline and the role it is playing in our ever changing life down the shore.

Long Beach Island Museum III

The back room displays of the museum

I stopped in for a recent special event that the Society was having to celebrate Halloween. The museum was having an ‘Ghost Fest-Open House” event for families and what a nice program they had for the kids and their family members that was socially distanced and safe.

There were pony rides, a maze to explore, marshmallow toasting by the fire to make smores, corn hole tossing, games of chance, a gift store for the kids and even a costume parade with the “Jersey Devil” which the kids seemed to get a kick out of when he came out.

The Jersey Devil lead the Halloween Parade

There were also self-guided tours of the museum which were a lot of fun as well as people were coming in and out looking at the holiday displays. It was a nice that the museum had a safe program for the patrons and members of the community.

The Museum was decked out for Halloween

In November of 2021, the museum had the nicest little Christmas festival. They had tables around the front hall of the museum called “The Elves Workshop” with stations that the kids could create arts and crafts for the Christmas holidays with cookie decorating, gingerbread house creating and making a jewel covered Christmas tree among other things. The museum was decorated for the upcoming holidays.

Santa is on his way to Long Beach Island is the front display of the museum

From 4:00pm to 6:00pm that evening, the participants went the park across the street to roast marshmallows and Smores over open fire pits while Christmas music played in the background and the gazebo was lit with Christmas lights as it got dark. It was quite a site.

The Museum really puts you in the Christmas spirit with events like these.

It really put you in the holiday spirit.

Mission Statement:

The Long Beach Island Historical Association collects, preserves and interprets the history of Long Beach Island through its educational programs, guest lecturers, walking tours, special events and an ever growing research center. The museum, situated at the center of Beach Haven’s Historic District, showcases 24 exhibits which include over 450 photographs and hundreds of artifacts for the sole purpose of encouraging the public to not only understand out island’s rich history but also to appreciate the people and events who helped in shaping its character (Museum Website).

History of the Museum and Town:

Before the colonial period the native Lenape tribes in the local area travelled in wooden dugout canoes to the island seasonally, to escape the heat, fish, gather clams to eat and shells for jewelry and trade. The early local colonists used the barrier islands much the same, seasonally to fish, whale (semi-permanent campus were established as early as 1690), gather salt hay, bayberry & beach plum and make sea salt.

As the settlers became more established, ports such as Clamtown (later Tuckerton) were established about 1700 on the mainland and roads improved. Cattle were grazed on Tucker’s Island by 1735. Permanent seasonal accommodations were built on the island for men coming to fish and hunt; such as the Philadelphia Company House (started as Horners in 1815, became Bonds from 1851-1909) near Tuckers Island just south of what is now called Holgate and the Mansions of Health in Surf City (1822-1850). There was a “boarding hotel” at Barnegat inlet from about 1820 and the first manned lighthouse was built at the inlet in 1834. A manned lighthouse was built on Tucker’s Island in 1848, where a community, later called Sea Haven was springing up.

The island’s “modern” history begins as the railroads reached south to Toms River and Barnegat; with the Tuckerton Railroad reaching Manahawkin and Tucketon by 1872. The railroad allowed visitors (and goods needed for comfortable living) to reach the shore quickly and also allowed for shore products to be shipped to Philadelphia & New York all year. The first year-round life-saving stations were were established in 1871. Land Development companies laid out Beach Haven in 1872 and Barnegat City (now Barnegat Light) in 1878, with sailboats and steam launches begin used to transfer visitors and goods from mainland railroad to the island. The Parry House, Engleside and later the Baldwin hotels. were built in Beach Haven and the Oceanic & Sunset in Barnegat City.

The Tuckerton & Long Beach Land & Improvement Co. principals were also major stockholders in the Baldwin Locomotive Co., the Tuckerton Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad. After they and their wealthy Philadelphia friends built houses in Beach Haven, the PRR was convinced to build a railroad trestle to LBI which opened in 1886 (abandoned 1935) leading to an extended property boom from the 1880’s-1920’s, especially in Beach Haven. Other smaller communities such as: Spray Beach (1889), Beach Haven Terrace, Brant Beach, Surf City (Inc. in 1899) and Harvey Cedars (Inc. in 1894) were established along the railroad.

Although most of the houses built were still seasonal, the presence of the railroad (and later the 1914 automobile bridge) made permanent business & year round living on the island feasible. Census records show that the island’s permanent population was 33 people in 1880, increasing to 522 in 1910 and 1827 in 1930.

After the Depression of the 1930’s and the Second World War, development resumed in the “Cape Cod” period 1846-1962; assisted by the completion of the Garden State Parkway to Manahawkin in 1954 and the opening of the four-lane causeway (to replace the old two-lane wooden bridge) in 1956. The 1962 storm and early 70’s economic problems temporarily delayed development. By the late 70’s, the island was essentially “built out”. Most recent building boom of the period 1980-2007 consists of teardown/replacement of existing homes.

Because of early erosion in Barnegat City, Surf City and elsewhere and the extensive tear-downs of the 1980’s and 1990’s, the majority of the surviving 19th century and early 20th century structures on LBI are in Beach Haven. The Beach Haven Historic District (running from 5th to Chatsworth, east of Bay Avenue/LBI Boulevard) was created in 1983 in response to the increasing loss of historic structures and conflicting building styles. As of 2012, it is the only historic district on LBI.

(From the Museum website: I give full credit to the Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum for this information)