Tag: Cape May NJ

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.)

 

The Greater Cape May Historical Society 6531/2 Washington Street Cape May, NJ 08204

The Greater Cape May Historical Society 6531/2 Washington Street Cape May, NJ 08204

The Greater Cape May Historical Society

6531/2 Washington Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-9100

http://www.capemayhistory.org/

http://www.capemayhistory.org/about-us.html

Open: Colonial House Museum hours:

Wednesday-Saturday, 1:00pm-4:00pm June 15th-September 15th

Open during Victorian Weekend in October. Special exhibits at Halloween and Christmas.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d286395-Reviews-The_Colonial_House-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

What an interesting visit I had to the Cape May Historical Society’s Memucan Hughes Colonial House. This tiny museum is only open between June 15th-September 15th and after that only for special events. It is an fascinating little home that was built somewhere between 1730 to 1760. The original house no one is too sure if it had been built for the original owner or had been there and added on to as the records for the age of the house are unclear.

The home consists of two small downstairs room filled with period furniture and decorations and there is an upstairs with three small rooms that is closed to the public. The front room Mr. Hughes used as a tavern that he kept open until almost the 1800’s. He had catered to a growing whaling industry that needed some form of entertainment in this quiet town that was isolated from the rest of the state.

The front of the house is decorated as tavern to greet guests. There were tables filled with games and items that would have catered to the trade but still you knew you were in someone’s home. There are vintage card tables, board games and some household items.

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The Cape May Historical Society

The back room is a closed off kitchen with a fireplace and spinning wheels and wash tubs, all the things to run a household. There were also children’s toys, kitchen and garden gadgets and family items to personalize the house. The Hughes family lived in the house until the Victorian age and then they built the house on the front of the property and moved the smaller house to the back of the grounds. The house had been moved three times since its original location on the main road a few blocks away.

The tour itself is only about a half hour long and the guides do a nice job explaining the history of the house. On the gloomy day I visited, the museum was very busy with people visiting the house and with its connection to colonial history and the popularity of the musical, “Hamilton”, it is making it a popular destination when visiting Cape May.

 

History of the Museum:

The mission of the Greater Cape May Historical Society is to collect, preserve, document, interpret and share the history of Greater Cape May and to enhance the appreciation of that history through the Society’s historic site, The Colonial House Museum, collections, research, exhibitions, educational programs and publications.

All are invited to visit the Colonial House Museum, a 1700’s era house. The house was moved to its present site next to City Hall when the Hughes Family built the grand Victorian that is now a Bed & Breakfast. Come visit us and see the House as it was with a Tavern Room and a Common Room when it was owned by Memucan Hughes. On display are period furnishings and other period household items.

The Society presents an annual exhibit dedicated to an unique chapter of Greater Cape May History along with special events for Halloween and Christmas.

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Greater Cape May Historical Society’s pamphlet and I give them full credit for it. Please call the above number for more information and selected openings.

Sunset Beach          502 Sunset Boulevard  Lower Township, NJ 08212

Sunset Beach 502 Sunset Boulevard Lower Township, NJ 08212

Sunset Beach

502 Sunset Boulevard

Lower Township, NJ  08212

https://www.new-jersey-leisure-guide.com/sunset-beach.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g3948623-d103992-Reviews-Sunset_Beach-Lower_Township_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Sunset Beach in Cape May, NJ is one of the most beautiful beaches in American and is ranked 24# on TripAdvisor as one of the breathtaking beaches to visit. The beach site in Lower Township in Cape May and is at the very end of Sunset Boulevard which is a direct run from downtown Cape May.

One both sides of the parking lot, there are gift shops and a small cafe grill. These have limited hours after Labor Day Weekend. The grill is closed after the holiday weekend.

The beach is amazing as you can see the pleasure boats in the distance coming in and out of the small harbor just north of the beach. Looking out into Delaware Bay is quite spectacular with its moving waves and the way it glitters in the sun. In the warmer months, it is just nice to walk along the shore and watch the birds. In the winter months, the breezes get to be too much and a short visit is nicer.

Any time of the year though, make sure to be here for sunset and that is when the beach works it beautiful natural magic. At sunset  you will see an array of colors with the sun setting in the distance. The last time I visited the beach in September, it was a combination of oranges, purples and blues as the sun set. The lower the sun the more brilliant the colors.  They become more complex as the sun gets lower.

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Sunset Beach

The best part of the view is that it is played out on the large stage. It covers the whole sky and it looks like the sun is going to sleep in the bay. You can almost touch it. Each night when the sun sets its a different color in the rainbow in the sky. The backdrop of the small stone formations and the SS Atlantus Concrete Ship make it more dramatic.

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SS Atlantus Concrete Ship

Whenever you are in Cape May, try to finish your dinner early and then watch Mother Nature work her magic by the shoreline. It is something that should not be missed.

Sunset Beach area:

The SS Atlantus Concrete Ship:

The SS Atlantus Concrete Ship was built and launched in 1918, just after World War I had ended as a trans-Atlantic steamer to return troops from Europe to home. After being decommissioned in 1926, she was purchased along with two other ships to create a ferry dock for ferries from Cape May to Delaware. The plans were later shelved as she ran aground in a storm along Sunset Beach and could not be freed.

Flag Lowering Ceremony:

The Evening Flag Ceremony held every night at sunset between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The lowering of the American flag at sunset is a 40 year old tradition. All of the flags that are flown at the flag ceremony are veteran’s caskets flags that families being with them from their loved one’s funeral. The ceremony includes the Pledge of Allegiance, the ‘Stat-Spangled Banner’ and a recording of Kate Smith’s ‘God Bless America”.

Cape May Diamonds:

While taking a stroll along the beach, look out for Cape May ‘Diamonds’. These are small pieces of quartz crystal found in the sand that are washed from the bay. You can find Cape May diamond jewelry in the gift stores at the beach.

(NJ Leisure Guide)

Sunset Beach IV

Sunset Beach

Disclaimer: This information was taken from the NJ Leisure Guide and I give their writer full credit for it. The beach is open all year around but it is the best in the warmer months. Don’t miss this spectacular view at sunset.

 

 

Cape May Fireman’s Museum                    643 Washington Street at the corner of  Franklin Street                                           Cape May, NJ 08204

Cape May Fireman’s Museum 643 Washington Street at the corner of Franklin Street Cape May, NJ 08204

Cape May Firemen’s Museum

643 Washington Street at the corner of Franklin Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-9512

http://capemayfd.com/custom.html?id=20402

Admission: Free

Hours: Call ahead

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d8012176-Reviews-Cape_May_Fire_Department_Museum-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

When I was in Cape May, NJ recently and came across the Cape May Fire Department Museum when walking around the town. It is interesting little museum that tells the history of the Cape May Fire Department.

The museum showcases the history Cape May Fire Department since its creation in the late 1880’s. There have been some serious fires over the years that have destroyed sections of the Cape May resort community. Some of the resorts oldest and grandest hotels that were made of wood have been leveled by spectacular fires. The department has framed the articles around the building.

Cape May Fire Museum III

The inside of the Cape May Museum

There is also large collection of patches from fire departments all over the country, displays of equipment from all eras of fire fighting and some displays that are dedicated to retired firemen from the department with their equipment.

Some fascinating old fire equipment is on display as well. All of this is marked accordingly along the walls. In the middle of the museum there is an antique pumper to admire that has been fully restored. All the pieces of equipment are dated and described so that you can see the transition in fire fighting over the years.

cape may fire museum ii

Cape May Fire Department News:

The museum is open and free to the public. Please come and enjoy the history of the City of Cape May Fire Department. Shirts can be purchased inside the Station. The career personnel on staff will be happy to assist you. The antique Fire Engine is a 1928 American La France and is house inside our museum.

Cape May Fire Museum IV

The Chief’s Desk at the Cape May Fire Museum

Disclaimer: I credit the Cape May Fire Department for this information and I give them full credit on it. Please call the Department for hours of their museum.

Cape May County Park & Zoo                     707 Route 9                                                  North Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Cape May County Park & Zoo 707 Route 9 North Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Cape May County Park & Zoo

707 Route 9

North Cape May Court House, NJ  08210

(609) 465-5271

http://www.cmczoo.com

https://www.facebook.com/capemaycountyparkzoo/

https://www.capemaycountynj.gov/1008/Park-Zoo

http://www.capemaycountynj.gov/1008/ParkZoo

http://www.capemaycountynj.gov/1400/Virtual-Zoo-School

Open:

Park Hours: 9:00am-Dusk

Zoo Hours:

Summer Hours: 10:00am-4:30pm

Winter hours: 10:00am-3:30pm

*The park and zoo are open every day but Christmas (weather permitting) and may have extended hours for special events.

Fee: The zoo is free but they appreciate donations

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46342-d268949-Reviews-Cape_May_County_Park_Zoo-Cape_May_Court_House_Middle_Township_Cape_May_County_New_J.html?m=19905

 

Cape May Zoo III

I visited the zoo in late September on a very gloomy rainy day, which I do not recommend for visitors. The animals like the humans took cover in their sheds and would not come out until the sun peaked out at the end of my visit. It still is an interesting zoo.

I have to admit that it is a little dated in that the philosophy of zoos continues to change and I think the zoo could use another updating to give the animals some more room and better stimulation in their respected areas. They just need more room to move around.

Cape May Zoo V

The entrance to the zoo and park

The gift shops and restaurants are typical to a zoo with overpriced children’s fare and gifts but it still is fun to walk around and watch the families have a good time. The gift shop does have some interesting items.

This pristine zoo and park features more than 550 inhabitants representing 250 species. Over 200 acres of beautiful, natural wooded areas and open space. Winding trails for hikers, bikers, joggers and wildlife watchers. Picnic areas and a huge playground make the park and zoo your perfect place for a family adventure (Cape May County Zoo and Park).

Cape May Zoo

Park & Zoo History:

The Cape May County Park Central is located two miles north of the heart of Cape May Court House and occupies both the right and left side of Route 9. This site was originally a southern plantation of the Matthews family.

Back in 1763, on Daniel Hand’s plantation in Middletown (now called Cape May Court House), the State Assembly petitioned erecting a courthouse and jail. The petition was granted and the cost was limited to 300 pounds. In 1764, Daniel Hand gave one acre to the county for the purpose of building a courthouse.

During the dame time, just north of the courthouse’s land, was the Matthew’s plantation. The main plantation was located below the lake and tributary waters. Just north of the tributary and small lake, the Matthews had an orchard that was set aside as a family cemetery and for the slaves of the plantation. This site still remains and is part of the park today. For a short period of time during the 1700s-1800s, this site was also used to bury the poor.

In “The 1942 Park Land Acquisition,” approximately forty acres of the Matthews plantation donated to the count to be used as a park and meeting place. Most of the land was wooded but some was lakes and tributary waters and also the cemetery. At this time, very little was done to the land. Later, a building used as a laundry at Crest Haven was moved from that location and converted into a maintenance and supply building with a comfort station and a six grill brick barbecue pit was constructed. It was during this time that the 4-H department, after holding its fair in Cold Springs or the riding club grounds, decided to ask permission to hold the fair at the county park.

The county road department and employees of Crest Haven cleared a section of the grounds of trees and brush, then seeded the ground for grass. This made a clearing for tents and booths, plus a horse ring to be used by the 4-H fair. The telephone company donated light fixtures and wire. Several years later, Pepsi-Cola donated a booth to be sued for refreshments. This was the extent of the county park for many years.

The County of Cape May was approved by referendum in November 1962. The State of New Jersey enabled an act for a park commission of nine residents of the county, which was established on February 5, 1963. The commissioners would serve terms of 1 to 5 years without compensation. A director was appointed in January 1966 and a solicitor was appointed in 1967.

The primary function of the park commission is to plan, acquire, develop, maintain and administer park land and the recreational facilities, thereon, which provide values for the benefit of the entire county. The Park Commission assumed complete responsibility of the County Park Systems on January 1, 1967. The County Park Facilities in 1967 were the same as they had been since the stat of the park! Facilities included maintenance and supply building with a comfort station, a band stand, 3 shelters, 1 six grill barbecue pit and a drinking fountain.

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The Cape May Zoo layout

Parks facility developments under the commission in the year 1967 were: 2 ten car parking lots, 6 group and organization barbecue pits, 40 picnic tables, 13 picnic grills and 1 playground. In 1968, they added 1 manual pump with shelter, 2 shelter, 2 ten care parking lots, another playground, 10 picnic tables, 6 picnic grills, 2 shuffleboard courts, 3 horse pitching courts, 3 swinging par benches and 8 regular park benches. Also, they added 1 volleyball court, 1 badminton court, 1 croquet court plus a camping area for Boy Scouts and Girl Scout and a foot bridge.

In 1969, a large amount of recreation facilities were added along with some park equipment to better serve the park users. On the recreation additions: 1 horseshoe pitching court, 3 quoit pitching courts, 1 deck tennis court, 1 aerial tennis court, 1 archery range, 1 boccie court, 1 tether ball court, 1 tether tennis court, 1 hopscotch court, a natural trail, 3 swinging park benches, 2 entrance gates, 4 foot bridges, 5 parking lots and 24 shelter picnic tables. All available to the public to use. Also, during this period, the residence of Charles W. Allen was purchases and made into an office fro the Cape May County Park Commission.

It has been close to seventy years since the parks beginning but the facility is still expanding and remains open to the public year round.

(History of Cape May Parks & Zoo; Parks System)

History of the Cape May County Zoo:

The Cape May County Zoo was created in 1978 within the Cape May County Park. The dedication was on May 6, 1978.

At the opening of the zoo, it consisted of an African lion, primates (spider monkeys), various barnyards animals and New Jersey wildlife animals. In the early 1980’s, the zoo gradually incorporated into its displays more exotic animals such as black bears, bison, antelope, primates and birds. All exhibits were constructed by park personnel.

Cape May Zoo VI

The Giraffe Exhibition at the Zoo

Beginning in 1986, a zoo renaissance began. Donations were solicited and major reconstruction was underway. Some of the projects that were completed consisted of a complete perimeter fence, a new lion exhibit, a Bengal tiger exhibit, a cougar exhibit, a giraffe and camel exhibit, a reptile house and a construction of a medical building and diet preparation building.

In 1989, the zoo became AZA accredited and has remained an accredited zoo to this date.

Throughout the 1990’s, renovations and new exhibits continued with the construction of an African Savannah, which consisted of 57 acres that display giraffes, zebras, antelopes and ostriches. Reconstruction of a reptile house replaced the original reptile house that was destroyed by fire in 1998, also a “World of Birds” walk through Aviary was constructed.

From the zoo’s beginnings in 1978, the animal population was around 70 animals and today the zoo consists of 550 animals representing 250 species.

The Cape May County Zoo is home to 13 flamingos from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

The zoo has recently improved traffic flow, parking and beautified the entrance to the zoo. The zoo is undergoing restroom renovations along with other amenities and necessities.

The Cape May Zoological Society added a train and added an animal themed carousel late in the summer of 2008.

The Cape May County Zoo celebrated its 40th birthday in 2018.

(History of the Cape May County Zoo)

Disclaimer: The information of the history of the Cape May County Park & Zoo was taken directly from the Park’s website and I give them full credit for the information. Please call ahead for weather and seasonal conditions to the park.

Cape May Zoo

The day I visited it was raining and the animals just like the humans ran for cover.