Tag: NJ Historic Lighthouses

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park                                           208 Broadway                                             Barnegat, NJ 08006

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park 208 Broadway Barnegat, NJ 08006

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

208 Broadway

Barnegat, NJ 08006

(609) 494-2016

https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/barnlig.html

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-8:00pm

Fee: Free off season/ Check Website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d286497-Reviews-Barnegat_Lighthouse_State_Park-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

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.

In 2020, 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 Bar

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 through 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.

I revisited the park in November of 2021 and on a very windy day, the lighthouse was open and I finally made my way to the top. It was quite a hike up those narrow stairs on a extremely windy day but I made it to the top in about fifteen minutes. Along the way, there was small landings with sweeping views of the ocean.

Once to the top, there was a landing that surrounded the top of the lighthouse with views of the park and lagoon areas and the surrounding tip of the island. The strong winds prevented me from staying there too long plus there was not much space to move around and you felt like you were caged in but the views were spectacular. I made it down in ten minutes since there were only six other people there.

It was nice of them to finally open the lighthouse.

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).

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 CafĂ© & 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.