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Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekend Historical Happenings: 1/31/15 - 2/1/15

Know about a historical event happening in your area? 
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Saturday, January 31 - Hopewell Township, Mercer County
Sugar Maple Tapping 
Children Friendly

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Weekend Estate Sales: 1/30/15 - 2/1/15

Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
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Passaic County Historical Society Quarterly Meeting and Vietnam Program - February 4, 2015

Passaic County Historical Society Quarterly Meeting and Vietnam Program
February 4, 2015

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm at Lambert Castle (home of the Passaic County Historical Society) at 3 Valley Road, Paterson New Jersey, the Passaic County Historical Society will be hosting James Biringer who will be presenting "The Vietnam War – Revisited." James served in the Marine Corps from 1965 to 1969, spending some of his time in Vietnam. Today, he is a tour guide at the Vietnam Memorial in Holmdel, New Jersey. This program will provide an overview of the Vietnam conflict both at home and abroad, including the impact of the media, the anti-war movement, and consequences of the war. The program is free to the public and follows a business meeting of the Historical Society.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Atop "Ol' Barney"

Atop "Ol' Barney"

Barnegat Lighthouse, often referred to as "Ol' Barney"on Long Beach Island is one of the Jersey Shore's most recognizable landmarks. From travel guides to tourism ads, you often see the lighthouse standing tall, mere yards from the water. However, like many lighthouse locations (with some exceptions), the shore has eroded over time, leaving the structure perilously close to the water.

The first lighthouse at Barnegat was constructed in 1835 on land once owned by Bornt Slight and his wife Ruth, of Tuckerton, New Jersey. Approximately 40 feet high, it served as a guide to the inlet, as opposed to a seacoast light. Its first keeper, appointed August 3, 1835, was Henry V. Low. The original lighthouse was built approximately 900 feet from the water but because of strong currents and shifting sands, it was only 450 feet away from the water by 1845.

In an 1852 lighthouse report, the lighthouse was criticized for only serving the inlet and its beacon's limited sight distance, about 10 miles on a clear night, according to one skipper quoted in the report. The lighthouse was equipped with a fourth-order Fresnel lens and ships often confused it with the light of another ship. When Lt. George G. Meade examined the lighthouse in 1855, he found it poorly constructed and that the sand at the base of the lighthouse was eroding.

Meade recommended a new seacoast light be constructed at Barnegat due to the number of shipwrecks in the area. On August 18, 1856, Congress authorized $45,000 for rebuilding the Barnegat Lighthouse. Meade supervised construction of the lighthouse from plans drawn by Lt. W S. Reynolds. Construction of the present 165 foot lighthouse began in 1857 and was completed in 1858. It is the second tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, after the Absecon Lighthouse. Like the Absecon Lighthouse and the 1859 Cape May Lighthouse, it is constructed of two heavily reinforced circular brick walls, one inside the other, on top of a sunken foundation. A circular cast iron staircase with 217 steps to the watchroom, just below the lantern room, was installed. The bottom half of the red brick tower was painted white and the top half, including the lantern room, was painted red, giving this lighthouse its characteristic daymark.

At the base of Barnegat Lighthouse.
Unlike its predecessor, a first-order flashing Fresnel lens was installed. The lens, built near Paris, France, cost $15,000 and measured eight feet in diameter and fifteen feet high. It flashed white once every ten seconds. The lighthouse was first lit on January 1, 1859. James Fuller of Vermont, the last keeper of the old light, was transferred to the new light. Originally the lens burned lard oil. In 1888, it was converted to kerosene, and in 1910 it was changed from oil to incandescent oil vapor.

Erosion continued to plague the lighthouse. Nine jetties were built in an effort to slow the erosion in 1869 and 1870. In 1893, the existing keepers' dwelling at the base of the lighthouse was modified and enlarged into a triplex structure for the lightkeeper, two assistant lightkeepers, and their families. Due to continued erosion, this structure was lost to the waters of the inlet in 1920. In the early 1930s, local residents rallied to save the lighthouse once again from encroaching waters by building a makeshift jetty out of junk cars, metal, and even baby carriages! In 1934, the Federal Government funded a $12,000 project to encircle the tower’s foundation with steel rings covered by cement and pilings further out creating a semi-circle around the structure.

The Barnegat Lighthouse and Keepers' Triplex, circa late 1910s. Note the eroding shoreline. Source: Library of Congress.
In 1927, LV 79, known as the Lightship Barnegat was established eight miles east of Barnegat Inlet and the lighthouse was automated. The first-order Fresnel lens was removed from the tower. The lightship remained there until the start of World War II in 1942 when it served as an examination vessel at Edgemoor, Delaware for all ships entering the Delaware River. The ship returned to service off the coast of Barnegat in 1945 and served until it was decommissioned March 3, 1967. It was replaced by a lighted buoy in 1969. Today, the Barnegat is docked at Pyne Poynt Marina in Camden, New Jersey awaiting maintenance and repair work. The ship was originally built in 1904 by the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden, New Jersey for $89,030.

During World War II, from 1940 to 1944, the lighthouse was used as a lookout tower for enemy ships. On January 1, 1944, the lighthouse was discontinued and turned over to the State of New Jersey. The property and other outbuildings had been previously transferred to the state on May 8, 1926.

The original first-order Fresnel lens was returned in 1954 to the Borough of Barnegat Light, formerly Barnegat City borough, after being moved to Staten Island and then the Rosenwald Museum in Chicago. It is now proudly on display at the nearby Barnegat Light Museum.

View from the top of Barnegat Lighthouse, looking toward Barnegat Light State Park and the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1957, New Jersey dedicated the land surrounding the lighthouse as a state park. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 1988, the lighthouse was closed for repairs and the installation of a new south jetty. It reopened to the public in 1991.

In 2001 and 2009, studies were conducted on the lighthouse's tilt by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers related to beach replenishment projects. WJE Engineers determined that the lighthouse has a pre-existing tilt of one degree toward the northwest, which equates to an out-of-plumbness of approximately twenty-one inches at the top of the lighthouse. The year-long study determined that the tilt in this masonry structure changes daily from fluctuations in environmental variables, such as temperature, but is negligible.

On the lighthouse's 150th birthday, January 1, 2009, it was relit after the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park purchased and installed a new 22-mile VRB-25 light system. The Friends also replaced all of the lantern room's window panes, ensuring that the lighthouse will shine bright for another 150 years!

Additional photos of my trip to Barnegat Lighthouse on Pinterest

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Black Revolutionary War Hero Edward 'Ned' Hector Program And Open House - February 1, 2015

Black Revolutionary War Hero Edward 'Ned' Hector Program And Open House
Sunday, February 1, 2015

On Sunday, February 1 from 1:00 - 4:00 pm, the Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House will host an open house and a presentation, beginning at 2:00 pm, about Edward 'Ned' Hector, a free African- American soldier who fought on behalf of the Patriots in the American Revolution.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Organization of the Week: Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Every Monday, I highlight a non-profit related to history or the arts, a historical society, preservation group or friends group whose main objective is to promote the historical and artistic history of New Jersey.

This week, I am featuring the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. Founded in 2007, the organization's mission is to "operate and to enhance interpretive, educational, recreational and research programs and events at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. This organization shall raise and receive funds or property to assist in enhancements of the natural habitat, buildings, and properties of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park and to encourage protection of the barrier island ecosystem."

Since their founding, the Friends have purchased and installed a new 22-mile beacon for the Barnegat Lighthouse, replaced all of the lantern room's window panes, made numerous improvements to the visitor center, purchased ten picnic tables for the park, and continue to assist in maintaining the lighthouse. They also have hosted a number of lectures and night climbs of the lighthouse.

The Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park rely on memberships, fundraising, and countless volunteers to continue its mission. For more information on programs and special events hosted by the Friends of  Barnegat Lighthouse State Park or to become a member or volunteer, please visit www.friendsofbarnegatlighthouse.org.

If you are a member of a non-profit organization or know of one that you would like to see featured on this site, please let us know in the comments or send an e-mail to kelly@thehistorygirl.com.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekend Historical Happenings: 1/24/15 - 1/25/15

Know about a historical event happening in your area? 
Send me an e-mail to let us know!
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Saturday, January 24 - Hopewell Township, Mercer County
Annual Ice Harvest
Children Friendly