Barnegat Bay Lighthouse. Courtesy Ocean Cultural & Heritage Commission
Lighthouse, affectionately known as "Barney" or "Old Barney" is the
quintessential symbol of the Jersey Shore, so much so that it is
featured on special New Jersey license plates.
The lighthouse, a veteran of nearly 100 years of
service to seafarers, is Ocean County, New Jersey's best-known
symbol. It stands on the northern tip of Long Island Beach, on the
south shore of Barnegat Inlet, a shifting inlet whose currents have
eroded away much of the northern tip of Long Beach Island. The
flashing signal lights no longer wink out to sea, but the
172-foot-tall red and white lighthouse is now a silent symbol of
days gone by. The original lighthouse was constructed in 1834, but
toppled into the sea due to storm erosion in 1856. The current
structure was built in 1858. The lighthouse was first lit on
January 1,1859 and was retired in 1927. When operational, the light
could be seen from as far as 30 miles.
The site of the lighthouse was regarded as one of the
most crucial "change of course" points for coastal vessels. 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
In 1926, the Bureau of Light Houses gave the station,
except for the tower, to the state of New Jersey. The bureau
continued to maintain an automatic light in the tower until January
1, 1944, when it decided to discontinue the light because the same
job was being done by the Barnegat lightship, which had been
established in 1927. Restored by the New Jersey Division of Parks
and Forestry, now serves as a museum where visitors can climb the
217 steps to the observation tower to watch the local fishing fleet
leaving and returning through the inlet, or gaze at the prolific
growth of hollies, bay berries, beach plums, red cedars, beach
grasses, and other native plants of the barrier islands.
Documentation consists of a page of text and a
Originally submitted by: Christopher H. Smith, Representative (4th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.