New Jersey is known for its’ 19 lighthouses along both east and west coastlines. Every year The state’s Lighthouse Foundation sponsers The Lighthouse Challenge, a two day event where all the lighthouses are open to the public except those out on the ocean of course. People from all over the country come there and it is a fun two days. I have been to one for one day and hope to attend for the two day one eventually. Out of the 19 lighthouses I find that Sandy Hook, Navesink, Herford and Cape May are the nicest and most beautiful. Here is a brief description of each one as along with pics I took as I have seen them. :)
Sandy Hook is located on an abandoned military base called Fort Hamilton that has been shut down for a few decades now. Some of the buildings still standing are used by various universities in the area to study marine life and give classes in such. Sandy Hook is the oldest working lighthouse in the country having been established in the late 1700’s after our founding. The Sandy Hook lighthouse first shone its beam on June 11, 1764, after the Provincial Congress of New York orchestrated two lotteries to raise money for its construction. Sandy Hook Lighthouse, which was restored in spring 2000, is part of the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area administered by the National Park Service. Seven days a week, National Park Service Park Rangers offer free tours every half hour from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Just adjacent to the light is an old army mortar battery that used to house three huge cannons that was well comaflaged during WW11.You can explore the area which I have many times and see the huge circles where the cannons were. I have included alive streaming video of the Sandy Hook Light below you can check out. :)
Navesink is just a five minute ride from Sandy Hook and you can see Sandy Hook from there. It is located on a high hill overlooking the inlet looking out over the ocean. Navesink is like a stone fortress with twin lights one of which is still working. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained and inside is a wonderful and fascinating museum you can walk thru at your leisure or have a guided tour. They also have a nice gift shop inside where you can buy, books, coffee mugs, t-shirts and a model of the light with two electric lights which I have which goes for about $40.
The Navesink Twin Lights is a non-operational lighthouse and museum located in Highlands,Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States, overlooking Sandy Hook Bay, the entrance to the New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. The Twin Lights, as the name implies, are a pair of beacons located 246 feet (75 m) above sea level on the headlands of the Navesink Highlands.
A lighthouse existed on the site since 1828, when it became an important guide and landmark for ships navigating the treacherous entrances to New York Harbor.
Hereford Lighthouse is located in North Wildwood, N. J. and is about an hour away from Sandy Hook. Hereford is more like a regular house than the traditional looking lighthouse and is known for its’ beautiful, bucolic, well maintained gardens and nature preserve. You can see various small birds, squirrels and butterflies abounding there. In fact they have several signs around the gardens saying: “Do not chase the butterflies. This is their home.” On the property is a large gazebo that is used to host arts and craft shows and weddings .Leading up to the gazebo is along brick walkway with inscriptions donated by people with the names of their loved ones on it that make interesting reading. Inside is a small gift area and for a $4.00 donation you can take a self guided tour with notebooks they give you describing each room. You also sit thru a short, but interesting video describing the history of the light. As you take the tour you see pictures of the former lighthouse keepers, their bedrooms and children’s bedroom and a big poster describing their various duties.
In the back is a small monument dedicated to all those lost at sea and a long walkway along the inlet.
Cape May Lighthouse
Cape May Lighthouse is located right on the ocean in a beautiful park in Cape May about a half hour away from Hereford. It is a tall white light with a red roof that really stands out and can be seen 20 miles out to sea. There are 199 steps up the light and they charge you $7 to go up it. The light is surrounded by beautiful sights you can see from the top that make for excellent picture taking such as the beach and ocean, a water and brush sanctuary for migratory birds and a nuns’ (St. Mary’s) retreat for the sisters of St. Joseph. The light was constructed and overseen by Gen, George Meade of civil war fame and stands 157 ft.6 inches.
Outside the light on the beach just inches from the ocean is an old army bunker that is now sealed off that was built during WW11 when they thought they were going to be attacked by Germany. You can walk around it which I have many times and there are “keep off” signs painted all around it as it is quite dangerous, Legend has it that the bunker is haunted by WW11 vets and some people have claimed to hear bugles blowing late at night. Cape May is a very historic town with many well kept Victorian mansions and shops you can tour. There are many that are haunted and they give ghost tours and many books have been written about the mansions, bunker and the lighthouse which is also supposedly haunted by the old keeper. I’m told that all are friendly spirits though of people who just love Cape May.
So if you ever come to New Jersey be sure to include these lights on your visit. ;) Check out the links below for some fascinating history and pics of the lights I have described.
SANDY HOOK-NJ CONOVER BEACON & NAVESINK LIGHTHOUSE – YouTube ( a nice music video hosted by two guys showing Sandy Hook, Conover Beacon and Navesink lights)
The Cape May Lighthouse, Cape May Point, New Jersey – YouTube (a great amateur video
Of what it is like climbing the Cape May Light and views from the top)