Rock Talk

Exploring the History of New Jersey Lighthouses

Last updated on May 16th, 2017 at 02:42 pm

Without lighthouses the history of New Jersey and our nation would not be the same. In honor of today being National Lighthouse Day Plymouth Rock Assurance wanted to share some interesting facts about New Jersey lighthouses.

Early lighthouses in America were built from wood, but due to the threat of fire and deterioration by the sea, this method was quickly abandoned for more sturdy materials.

The oldest standing masonry tower in the US is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, built in 1764. In fact, you can still see the damage done from cannon fire during the American Revolution as the colonies and British fought to control the light. Lighthouses were key to controlling shipping lanes and supply routes for soldiers. Sandy Hook is the only pre-revolutionary war lighthouse that remains standing.

Shortly after the American Revolution, President George Washington quickly moved to have lighthouses under federal control in order to stop locals from bickering about ownership and to ensure that these important navigation tools remained intact for merchants and a very new Navy. The first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, was also the first Superintendent of Lighthouses.

The few of these majestic beacons that remain have become some of the most popular tourist and summer destinations in New Jersey. Visitors can experience some of the best views the Atlantic Coastline they will ever see. Below is a quick rundown of two of NJ’s finest lighthouses and some great facts about each one.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

  • Erected in 1764.
  • Originally called the New York Lighthouse.
  • The masonry walls are seven feet thick at the base.
  • American colonists tried to destroy the lighthouse to keep it out of British control.
  • Originally cost three pence per ton of ship to cross in front of the lighthouse.
  • Refurbished with brick at the base to reinforce the walls and an iron spiral staircase replaced the original wood in 1857.
  • Designated a National Landmark and control given to the National Park Service in 1996.

 

Twin Lights

  • Officially named the Navesink Light Station.
  • Erected by degree of Congress after much pleading from merchants and sea captains in 1828.
  • First fresnel lens were installed in the US at Twin Lights in 1841.
  • After several years of refurbishment, the “new” Twin Lights opened as the most state-of-the-art lighthouse in America in 1862.
  • Selected as the site for the first official reading of the Pledge of Allegiance in 1893.
  • Nation’s first electrically powered lighthouse.
  • First successful communication using radio waves was completed at Twin Lights by Guglielmo Marconi using a telegraph message from ship to shore in 1899.

 

There are 11 amazing lighthouses in NJ that you can explore, and each features its own rich history.
For more information, check out these websites:

The Official NJ Lighthouse Page
http://www.state.nj.us/nj/things/lighthouses/
The NJ Lighthouse Society
http://www.njlhs.org/index.html

One thought on “Exploring the History of New Jersey Lighthouses

  1. THANK YOU FOR THE INFORMATION ON SANDY HOOK LIGHTHOUSE. I COLLECT WHITE HOUSES AND IT MAKES ME PROUD THAT IT STILL STANDS FOR ALL TO SEE.

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