Tag: NJ Beaches

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.)

 

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.

Sunset Beach II.jpg

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.

Sunset Beach III.jpg

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.

 

 

The Cape May Lighthouse                          215 Light House Avenue                          Cape May Point, NJ 08212

The Cape May Lighthouse 215 Light House Avenue Cape May Point, NJ 08212

The Cape May Lighthouse

215 Light House Avenue

Cape May Point, NJ  08212

1-800-275-4278

http://www.capemaymac.org

https://www.capemaymac.org/cape-may-lighthouse

Open:  Tuesday-Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm/Monday 10:00am-4:00pm/Thursday-Friday Closed

Fee: $8.00 Adults/$5.00 Children 3-12/Military Free

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d103993-Reviews-Cape_May_Lighthouse-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

This historic site has been restored and administered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities in conjunction with N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks & Forestry.

The Cape May Lighthouse: Climb the 199 steps of this 1859 vintage tower for a breathtaking view of the Jersey Cape, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Over the past 30 years, MAC has totally restored the Cape May Lighthouse. A fully accessible Visitors Center is located in the adjacent Oil House as well as a Museum Shop stocked with lighthouse and maritime must haves.

Cape May Lighthouse

The Cape May Lighthouse

Lighthouse FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the Cape May Lighthouse

Questions about the structure:

*How Tall is the lighthouse? The lighthouse is 157 feet 6 inches tall from the ground line to the ventilator.

*How many steps are there to the top? There are 217 steps from the ground to the top with 199 steps in the tower’s cast iron spiral staircase.

* How old is the Lighthouse? The Cape May Lighthouse was built in 1859 and is the third fully documented lighthouse to be built at Cape May Point. The first was built in 1823; the second in 1847. The exact locations of the first two lighthouses are now underwater due to erosion.

*How thick are the brick walls? The Lighthouse actually has two separate walls. The outside wall is cone-shaped and is 3 feet 10 inches thick at the bottom and 1 foot 6 inches thick at the top. The inside wall is a cylinder with 8.5 inch thick walls which support the spiral staircase. The walls were designed to withstand winds several times above hurricane force.

*Is the beacon still working? Yes, The Coast Guard continues to operate the light as an active aid to navigation. The light is visible 22 miles out to sea and flashes every 15 seconds. A lighthouse’s flash pattern is called its ‘characteristic’, every lighthouse has its own light characteristic and exterior paint scheme (called a daymark) so that ship captains can tell them apart.

*What were the two small rooms on either side of the entrance hallway used for? They were storage rooms that held tools, implements and fuel for the lantern before the Oil House was built. The keeper also used one as a small office.

*Who owns the Lighthouse?  The State of New Jersey owns the Lighthouse but the Coast Guard maintains the beacon apparatus. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) in Cape May leases the Lighthouse from the State with the mission of restoring the structure and operating it as a historic site.

Cape May Lighthouse II

Cape May Lighthouse

*Questions about Lighthouse Keepers and their responsibilities

*Who worked at the Lighthouse?  The Lighthouse was staffed by keepers who worked for the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Cape May’s lighthouse generally had one head keeper and two assistants. They carried the oil to the top of the tower every day to power the light and kept the lens apparatus clean and in working order. Keepers’ pay averaged $600.00 a year around the turn of the 20th century.

*Where did the keepers live?  There were two houses built right next to the Lighthouse around 1860 for the keepers and their families. One has since burned but the other is still standing on the other side of the fence near the entrance to the tower.

Important Dates: Cape May Lighthouse

1853-First recorded lighthouse constructed. The 1823 tower was 68 feet tall and its location is now underwater due to erosion.

1847-The second lighthouse was built. It was a 78 foot tower located directly in front of the present tower, just beyond the present shoreline. It was replaced by the present lighthouse because it was poorly constructed.

1857-The Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the present tower, which cost $40,000 to build. The first order Fresnel lens, which is now in the Cape May County Museum, cost about $15,000.

1859-The Lighthouse was first lighted on October 31. The next year, two lighthouse keepers dwellings were built. The one remaining is now used by the State Park Service.

1893-The oil house was constructed.

1902-One of the keepers’ dwellings was enlarge to provide more space for housing the keepers’ families. Three keepers and their families. Three keepers and their families lived at the lighthouse site.

1902-An incandescent oil vapor lamp was installed and replaced the Funck multiple wick first order hydraulic float lamp that dated back to 1878.

1933-The light apparatus was electrified.

1936-The light apparatus was automated which eliminated the need for lighthouse keepers being permanently stationed at the tower.

1939-The United States Lighthouse Service was discontinued and its equipment and personnel transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard.

1941-The Lighthouse was darkened until 1945 because of the World War II. The Atlantic coast was on black-out due to the presence of enemy submarines.

1946-A DCB-36 rotating light (like an airport beacon) was installed. The original first order Fresnel lens was placed in the Cape May County Museum.

1986-The Lighthouse was leased to MAC by the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, who in turn leased the structure from the Coast Guard.

1988-MAC undertook public safety improvements that allowed the public to climb to the top.

1989-A grant from the Bicentennial Lighthouse Fund underwrote the restoration of the Lighthouse’s windows and doors.

1990-The oil house was restored and adapted for use as orientation center and museum shop, with funding from the Bicentennial Lighthouse Fund and the New Jersey Historic Trust.

1992-The ownership of the Lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to the State of New Jersey.

1994-Grants from the New Jersey Historic Trust and the federal ISTEA program administered by the State DOT funded painting of the tower and restoration of the lantern and roof.

1998-Grants from the same agencies funded all remaining restoration of the lighthouse structure.

2000-2001-A grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust funded the grounds restoration project.

2002-The Coast Guard installed a modern light known as a DCB-224. It uses parabolic mirrors to focus the beams rather than lenses.

2010-The Friends of the Cape May Lighthouse group was formed. You are cordially invited to join. Call 609-884-5404 or visit http://www.capemaymac.org.

2016-The Coast Guard installed a new, state of the art beacon known as VRB-25 (Variable Rotating Beacon) replacing the DCB-224 that had suffered irreparable damage due to a lighthouse strike.

2017-Lighthouse Tower was repainted with grants from the Cape May County Open Space Board, the National Maritime Heritage Grant program of the National Park Service and South Jersey Industries, augmented by the fundraising efforts of the Lighthouse Keepers and the Friends of the Lighthouse.

*Is the Lighthouse haunted? Exit Zero Ghost Writer and psychic medium Craig McManus has visited the Lighthouse and detected the ghosts of several former keepers and their families. Perhaps you may encounter them yourself on a Ghosts of the Lighthouse Trolley Tour!

Questions about Lighthouse Restoration

*Why is the Lighthouse leased to the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC)?

In the 1980’s , the Coast Guard began a nationwide program of leasing lighthouses to private organizations, like MAC, which are capable of preserving them. In 1986, the Coast Guard leased the Lighthouse to MAC, which assumed the responsibility for its restoration, maintenance and operation as a lighthouse museum. In 1992, ownership of the Lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to the State of New Jersey in order to make the restoration project eligible for state historic preservation funding. The state monitors the historical authenticity of the restoration and also makes available to Lighthouse visitors the parking and restroom facilities of the adjacent state park.

*What is MAC?

MAC is a non-profit organization with nearly 4,000 members that was founded in 1970 to save and restore Cape May’s Physick Estate and operate it as a historic house museum. The Physick Estate is also home to the Carroll Gallery with an array of changing exhibitions, a museum shop and the Carriage House Café & Tearoom. MAC has also restored the World War II Lookout Tower (Fire Control Tower Number 23) located nearby on Sunset Boulevard. In addition, MAC promotes Cape May’s Victorian heritage through a year round schedule of special events and trolley, walking and historic house tours. MAC is also one of the area’s leading sponsors of the performing arts with its Cape May Music Festival every May and June. Please call 609-884-5404 for details on MAC’s calendar of events or visit our website at http://www.capemaymac.org.

*How much did it cost to restore the Lighthouse?

Since 1987, closed to two million dollars has been spent to restore the Lighthouse and oil house and allow the public to climb safely to the top.

*Is the Lighthouse open to the public?

Yes, Hours of operation vary throughout the year. The tower is open daily, April through November and on weekends most of the rest of the year. The grounds ground floor, tower and watch room gallery are open to the public. All tours of the tower are self-guided.

Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities

P.O. Box 340

1048 Washington Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-5404

http://www.capemaymac.org

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from a pamphlet from the MAC Cape May Lighthouse Museum. Please call the above number or email address for more information on the site. It is well worth seeing just for the view alone.

 

 

 

 

Lucy the Elephant: A National Historical Landmark        9200 Atlantic Avenue    Margate, NJ 08402

Lucy the Elephant: A National Historical Landmark 9200 Atlantic Avenue Margate, NJ 08402

Lucy the Elephant: A National Historical Landmark

9200 Atlantic Avenue

Margate, NJ  08402

(609) 823-6473

http://www.LucyTheElephant.org

https://www.facebook.com/elephantlucy/

Open: Check the website for the season as the hours change by season

Fee: $8.00 Adults/$4.00 Children/Children under 2 free

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46600-d518065-Reviews-Lucy_the_Elephant-Margate_City_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

I visited Lucy the Elephant in the fall of 2015 right before Christmas on a tour I was taking of Southern New Jersey and the shoreline. This unique structure was built to attract people to the shore to buy land and for development. Their were two other ‘Lucy’s’ built one of them being the former ‘Elephant Hotel’ in Coney Island that burned down in the last century.

This well preserved building has been renovated and part of the Jersey shore lore. It is well worth the visit in the off season on a nice day. I unfortunately visited on a rainy day and was not able to go to the top and still have a free pass to go whenever I want to visit again.  Still I was able to take the spiral staircase to her belly to learn the history of the structure and that is very interesting.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant in its full glory

Update:

I visited Lucy again recently and was finally able to visit the top of the statue, the howdah, and able to take in the view of the ocean and the surrounding area. Try to visit “Lucy” when it is a sunny day out. You will be able to take in the spectacular view.

Lucy the Elephant II.jpg

Inside of Lucy the Elephant: the history and displays

*Lucy the Elephant, born in 1881, A National Historical Landmark

History:

Lucy was built by a real estate speculator who owned a great many parcels of open land at the Jersey shore. In order to attract visitors and potential buyer, he built Lucy as a novelty amusement. He patented his idea, ensuring that Lucy would remain a unique piece of architecture. Eventually, a popular hotel business was built around Lucy. Presidents and royalty came from around the world to stay at the neighboring Elephant Hotel and climb the stairs to Lucy’s howdah.

During her history, Lucy has survived hurricanes, ocean floods and even a fire accidentally stated by some inebriated party-goers when she served as tavern. However, by the 1960’s, it became apparent there was one disaster Lucy could not overcome-neglect. By that time, the once proud jewel of the South Jersey Isles had become an almost hopeless, condemned structure. Eventually a developer purchased Lucy’s lot and intended to build a new condominium building on the site. The beach and the ocean could stay-but the elephant had to go!

Lucy the Elephant III.jpg

Lucy the Elephant near the wrecking ball

To the rescue came the Save Lucy Committee. Within weeks, this small, concerned group of ordinary citizens had raised enough money to move the entire decaying structure two blocks away to a new site owned by the city. Thirty years and over one million dollars later, Lucy has been completely restored to her original splendor, inside and out. In 1976, Lucy was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Government as the oldest surviving example of a unique form of “zoomorphic” architecture. Today, she is every bit as popular and beloved as she ever was.

About our Park:

Lucy the Elephant is located along the beach in Josephine Harron Park (named for our co-founder) in Margate, NJ. Lucy is six stories high and is listed on the National Park Registry of Historical Landmarks. Our park is fenced and contained, making child supervision easy. Picnic tables are on site for eating outdoors. We also have friendly, trained volunteers and staff to assist you during your visit. On the tour, you will learn about Lucy’s unique architecture and her colorful history. You will get to climb a spiral staircase through her insides and all the way up to the howdah on her back, providing a spectacular 360 degrees view of the surrounding shore area. Kids and adults alike are sure to enjoy visiting the only elephant in the world “you can walk through and come out alive”. Lucy is also available by appointment for schools, groups and special events such as weddings or birthday parties. There are guided tours, a gift shop, free parking and all major credit cards are accepted.

lucy-the-elepant-ii.jpg

Lucy the Elephant by the Margate Shore

Hours:

The hours for the structure change throughout the year, so please check the website for time availability of the park and structure.

Group Tours & Information:

Lucy is available year round for groups of 10 or more by appointment. For special holiday hours and weather closings, please call or check our website.

How to get to Lucy:

It is best to check the website for your location to the structure. For detailed instructions, please visit http://www.lucythe elephant.org.

*This information was taken from the pamphlet from The Save Lucy Committee.  For more information, visit the online website at http://www.LucyTheElephant.org

*Disclaimer from author: All this information is located both on the pamphlet and on the website. Visiting Lucy is a treat and should be visited by all residents of New Jersey.