Scenic USA - New Jersey

Barnegat Lighthouse

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Barnegat Lighthouse -  Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Photography

   Measuring from Cape May at the southern tip to Sandy Hook in the north, Long Beach Island is one of a string of barrier islands about half way up the New Jersey Coast. An area known for its swift currents, shifting sand bars and shallow shoals, early 19th century mariners longed for the day when a lighthouse illuminated the shoreline. Unfortunately the first attempt, a 40 foot tower with a fifth class light, was a bitter disappointment for ship captains heading to New York Harbor. Built in 1835, strong currents soon began to gnaw their way inland toward the lighthouse. Fresh from the development of Absecon Lighthouse, U.S. Army engineer Lt. George Meade began working on the Long Beach Island lighthouse replacement. Four times the height of the original, the 163 foot Barnegat tower was perched on a sand ridge 172 feet above sea level. The top notch lighthouse used a first-order Fresnel lens, using over a third of the construction funds.
   After its 68 years of service, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1927. Turned over to the state of New Jersey, Old Barney became the centerpiece of the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. The park also features one of the few remaining maritime forests, where coastal trees include black cherry, sassafras, eastern red cedar and American holly. Here, visitors may enjoy picnicking and fishing, while lighthouse fans and sightseers may enjoy the climb and panoramic views from the top of the lighthouse. The interpretive center offers an in-depth look at lighthouse history, and the nearby Barnegat Light Museum is also a great place to learn of lighthouse-technology and see the original first-order lens from Old Barney.

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