While New Jersey’s chain of lighthouses might not quite meet the biblical reference, they remain a dear part of our state’s landscape, providing a historical landmark, a practical safety signpost, and a romantic attraction...
We have about one month left before summer (unofficially) ends. Also, yesterday was National Lighthouse Day, a perfect reminder to visit one of New Jersey’s 10 lighthouses. And the charm for these wonderful visits is that they are all within easy travel distance for New Jeseyans.
They range from the most northern point, Sandy Hook Lighthouse, to our most southern at Cape May. It makes for a perfect day trip, and for the more daring, you could probably visit all of them in 48 hours. The starting point for your visit should be https://www.visitnj.org/nj/attractions/lighthouses, which is a digital roadmap to their location and details for visiting. It provides information about hours, admission fees, and other relevant facts.
When you visit a New Jersey lighthouse, either digitally or in person, this is where the fun begins.
For example, who knew that the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Highlands, New Jersey, is the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States? It’s been in service since 1764 and has gone dark only during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I & II. Visiting this site is the perfect day trip because the peninsula on which it is located boasts a spectacular holly forest, excellent surf fishing, hiking, beaches, trails, salt marshes, more than 300 species of birds and other historical sites.
It's inevitable to ask the question: Why are lighthouses so alluring? One lighthouse official was quoted in a media outlet as saying: "I have heard some people remark that lighthouses could be considered America's castles. America is a very young country; we don't have centuries-old historic buildings. But lighthouses are so unique. They're so varied."
There is also the practical side. Lighthouses serve as a beacon of safety for seafarers whenever they travel along our eastern Seaboard.
For example, “The Barnegat Lighthouse on the northern tip of Long Beach Island in Ocean County was regarded as one of the most crucial ‘change of course’ points for coastal vessels,” according to official records. “Vessels bound to and from New York along the New Jersey coastline depended on Barnegat Lighthouse to avoid the shoals extending from the shoreline. The swift currents, shifting sandbars, and the offshore shoals challenged the skills of even the most experienced sailor. The park is included as a maritime site on the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.”
I can’t think of a more fun and entertaining experience than visiting one of our grand New Jersey lighthouses. Venture out and see the light.
That’s my take, what’s yours?