Jul222016

Sea Girt Lighthouse Lawn Party 2016

Published by admin at 7:24 AM under

On Saturday, August 6, 2016, Sea Girt Lighthouse will celebrate the 36th annual Signing of the Lease Party

From 6 to 8 PM on the north lawn of the Lighthouse attendees will enjoy the ocean breezes, classic passed hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.

Each year at this much-anticipated social event friends catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Tickets are $60 by advanced sale only, tickets are not available at the door.

Members who have received invitations should RSVP by July 15.

Public sale of the remaining tickets will begin then and can be purchased by mailing a check to the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, Inc., Sea Girt, NJ 08750, by July 25, 2016. For further information or update on availability of tickets, please call the Sea Girt LIghthouse at 732-974-0514.

This year’s party will be hosted by the newly elected president Jude Meehan and party chairwoman Catherine Schwier. Mr. Meehan would like to say “please join us at the lawn party or stop by for a tour on Sundays from 2 to 4 PM” and he is hopeful that Families Will Consider Becoming Lighthouse Members.

The first signing of the lease party was a celebration of the volunteer’s success in preserving the landmark, a thank you to supporters, an opportunity to cherish what they had saved and a reminder that the effort never ends. As this is the only fundraiser of the year for this nonprofit all volunteer organization, all proceeds will go to the maintenance and operation of the landmark which is 120 years old.

Both outgoing president Bill Mountford and chairwoman Catherine Schwier expressed that the party is a wonderful way to say thank you the community for all your support.

And for the 35th year Carol Ann McLaughlin catering will present the much anticipated selection of hors d’oeuvres.



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May082016

Horseless Carriages at Sea Girt Lighthouse

Published by admin at 1:02 AM under

Lighthouse visitors and passersby were recently taken back in time more than a century to the earliest days of Sea Girt Lighthouse as members of the North Jersey Chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America parked their very early, classic cars by the lighthouse, their first stop on a four-day tour of the Shore.

05052016AntiqueCar (93)bC Rolling relics of automotive history, built between 1902 and 1907 at the dawn of automobile era, parked on Ocean Avenue in front of the shore landmark of navigational history, which was activated only a few years before these hand-built cars began their long journeys over America’s expanding road network.

05052016AntiqueCar (11)bCATwo Seats, Two Cylinders, No Doors

Most of the vintage cars were two seaters and propelled by two-cylinder engines. The fleet included: a Buick, two examples of Henry Ford’s very first model car, the Ford Model A, also a Maxwell, a fire-engine red Reo and a maroon Reo, an Oldsmobile, a Yale and a four-seat Franklin touring car. Typical of the era, they were equipped with hand-crank ignitions, running boards, spoke wheels, kerosene-burning headlamps and rubber bulb brass air horns but no doors. Instead of steering wheels, a few of the automobiles had tillers. Top speeds averaged around 20 m.p.h. Windshields had two panes of framed glass, the top frame could be raised or lowered. Half of the cars were open touring cars, the others had canvas tops that could be manually raised or lowered. Some had wicker baskets and spare tires secured by leather straps to the running boards. None had storage trunks.

The majority of the cars were made in the Michigan, which in time would emerge as America’s Motor Capital. Ford’s Model A’s were built in the Mack Avenue plant in Detroit, which would become known worldwide as Motor City. But the early Michigan car makers, like Buick and Oldsmobile as well as Ford, did have some out-of-state rivals. The Maxwell was made by the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Co., of Tarrytown, New York. The Kirk Manufacturing Company, of Toledo, Ohio, produced their Yale touring cars in Toledo, Ohio from 1901-05. The Franklin Automobile Company produced its high-end cars in Syracuse, New York. When these cars were new, their price tags ranged from $800 for a 1903 Ford Model A to $3,000 for the four-seat 1904 Franklin. The equivalent amounts, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, in 2016 dollars would be $20,952.97 for the Model A and $78,573.64 for the Franklin.

Seen and Heard, While Seeing the Sights

This is the club’s 24th Annual North Jersey Region Shore Tour, which is an opportunity for members to see historic sites and for their historic 05052016AntiqueCar (42)b horseless carriages to be seen. The drivers and their passengers, who doubled as a navigators and mechanics, met up that Thursday morning, parking their classic attention-grabbing machines along Ocean Pathway by the Great Auditorium in the beachfront town of Ocean Grove, eight miles north of Sea Girt. Several participants in the four-day tour trailered their cars to Ocean Grove to save on the wear and tear.

Around 1:45 p.m., they cranked up their engines and the caravan headed south along Ocean Avenue for the 20 minute drive to the lighthouse. Once they had parked their cars, they were greeted by lighthouse docents Conrad and Harriet Yauch and Jim Sandford, who gave the visitors guided tours that took them from the keeper’s office, through the house, and into the tower’s lantern room at the top.

05052016AntiqueCar (53)bThe chance sightings of the vintage automobiles attracted pedestrians, including those walking the boardwalk, and motorists who pulled into the nearest available parking spaces and ambled over for a closer look. The event also attracted photographers and reporters. Covering the event for the lighthouse website was Henry Bossett, whose photographs accompany this article. Reporter MaryAnn Spoto’s news article, photographs and video can be seen at NJ.com (nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2016/05/history_meets_history_at_sea_girt_lighthouse.html). Reporter Matt Conte and photographer Ryan Welsh covered the event for The Coast Star.

The lighthouse tour had been requested and club arrangements made by John Rendemonti, of the local chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club and the man behind the wheel of the 1904 Franklin. After their hour-long lighthouse tour, John and other club members proudly stood by their cars and answered questions from those who had gathered around. Then it was time to motor off, back to Ocean Grove. In the coming days their annual tour would take them to Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Navesink Twin Lights and other historic sites, traveling 30-40 miles a day in Monmouth County.

Contacting Sea Girt Lighthouse

Sea Girt Lighthouse is maintained and operated by the all-volunteer Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, Inc. The building is in use some 180 days a year and visited by several thousand people annuallay. Several community groups meet there regularly. Recurring events include a summer art show, October’s Lighthouse Challenge and a twice-yearly night climb. Docents conduct Sunday tours, 2-4 p.m. mid-April through mid-November, except holiday weekends. Group tours are conducted year-round by prior arrangement. Volunteers and visitors are always welcome.

To volunteer, ask a question, offer a comment or inquire about arranging a group tour, call the lighthouse at 732-974-0514 and leave a message, or email from the lighthouse website’s Contact Us page (http://www.seagirtlighthouse.com/contact.aspx), or write us at Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, P.O. Box 83, Sea Girt, NJ 08750. For the latest news and photos of Sea Girt Lighthouse, visit our website.

Photographs by Henry Bossett



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Apr302016

Lighthouse Photo History Published

Published by admin at 11:44 PM under

Sea Girt Lighthouse, activated in 1896 and today a popular museum and community center busy with events and club meetings, is captured in a photographic history just published by Arcadia Publishing in its Images of America series. 001

The book contains a 1,500-word essay by Bill Dunn, a lighthouse docent and the historian who spent almost a year doing research and gathering the 230 featured images from dozens of sources across the country and as far away as Alaska. There are historic photos of the lighthouse down through the years and the keepers and Coast Guardsmen assigned there as well as contemporary pictures of the events that keep the landmark alive with activity.

Bill explained the origin of the book: “Arcadia contacted us about doing a book on Sea Girt Lighthouse. I told them that History Press beat them to it, publishing my lighthouse book in 2014. ‘We know. We bought the company,’ the editor informed me. I then wondered if two books on the same lighthouse wouldn’t compete with one another. She responded, ‘The books would complement one another.’ And they do.”

The just-published pictorial book is a companion volume to Sea Girt Lighthouse: The Community Beacon. The latter is a 50,000-word historical narrative by Bill, illustrated with 110 photos. Fewer than 10 photos appear in both books. The books are for sale at the lighthouse, and through retail outlets, at $21.99 each. All author royalties go to the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, Inc., the non-profit, volunteer organization that operates and maintains the lighthouse and preserves its history through tours, special events and now books.

Quest for More Photos and Facts

003In researching the second book, Bill widened his search. “I started in the lighthouse archives, then did online searches of the National Archives, the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office as well as regional and local archives and far beyond to new sources.

“Uncovered and appearing in the pictorial history are photos of two people who were put in charge of Sea Girt Lighthouse eight years apart under unusual circumstances. In 1936, 20-year-old Alice Thomas, daughter of keeper George Thomas, took command of the lighthouse for 24 hours, while her father was away on family business. The keeper had nominated his daughter as his replacement, which was approved by the district superintendent of the U.S. Lighthouse Service “with the understanding the substitute is to be furnished at your own expense.”

Alice attended the local Ann May School of Nursing from which she graduated in 1941. In October of that year she enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurses Corps. During World War II, she nursed wounded Allied troops in Australia and later in the Philippines. Mr. Dunn got in touch with Darlene Robertelli, archivist of the Medical and Nursing Archives Collection of Jersey Shore University Medical Center, which includes the archives of the Ann May School of Nursing. Ms. Robertelli enthusiastically undertook an extensive search of the archives, uncovering three photos of Alice, including the one that appears in the book, her senior yearbook photo showing a pretty and confident Alice in her nurse’s starched white uniform and cap.

The other photo discovery of a lighthouse commander came from Jean Weaver, who lives in Alaska and is the grand-daughter of Irvie S. Camburn, the Coast Guardsman who was the commanding officer at Sea Girt Lighthouse during World War II. Camburn was from an old sea-faring family from Waretown, N.J., with roots that go back to Colonial times. Bill contacted the Waretown Historical Society which put him in touch with two direct descendants, including Mrs. Weaver, who lives in a village of fewer than 500 people some 180 miles north of Anchorage. She promptly responded to Bill’s email query, sending a photo of her grandfather and providing details about his life, which all went in the book.

After a 33-year career in the Coast Guard, including a hitch at Montauk Lighthouse, BSM1 Camburn retired. During World War II, he was called back to active duty and was assigned as the commanding officer at Sea Girt. Last August, while Bill was in the final stages of gathering photos and writing captions and the 1,500-word essay, Mrs. Weaver was back in New Jersey to visit family and came to Sea Girt Lighthouse and was given a private tour.

History Captured in Postcards

“What I did differently this time was I focused more attention on private collectors of local maps, photos and postcards,” he explained. “Antique postcards provided many of the most interesting and important images to be found in the new book.”058

William “Biff” Joule, Sea Girt’s retired police chief, has an extensive collection of Sea Girt photos, maps and postcards, which date back to the earliest days of the village that took its name from the 800-acre estate of Commodore Richard Stockton he named Seagirt, meaning land surrounded by sea.

Appearing in the book and coming from Mr. Joule’s collection are images of the first map of Sea Girt printed in 1890, Sea Girt Inlet, which no longer exists but featured prominently in early lighthouse history, the lighthouse at different stages, the lighthouse neighborhood including the house next door that first keeper built, the beach by the lighthouse covered with beach grass and sand dunes long before there was a boardwalk or pavilion.

These and other images show how the lighthouse, the immediate area and the town of Sea Girt changed over time. The earliest photo of the lighthouse, from 1900, shows a windmill nearby, which pumped water from a well into the house. Beacon Boulevard, then called Bellevue Place, was a sandy lane. A horse-drawn carriage is parked nearby. Photos from the mid-1920s show cars parked eastward along a paved and one-way Beacon Boulevard. The windmill is long gone. But towering over the lighthouse are the freestanding metal towers and a broadcast antenna of the world’s first land-based radio fog beacon transmitter, also known as a radio compass.

093 The transmitter was installed at Sea Girt in 1920. Transmitters were also installed at Ambrose Lightship and Fire Island Lightship. Each station broadcast a unique signal that identified the sending station. This enabled mariners to navigate in dense fog when they could not see the beacons but could accurately fix their position by triangulating the radio signals.

Also in the book are photos of other Sea Girt landmarks, including Commodore Richard Stockton’s 35-room Beach House, the Stockton Hotel that was a greatly expanded version of the Beach House, the Governor’s Summer Cottage at the National Guard camp nicknamed the Little White House. The Stockton was destroyed by fire in 1965. The Little White House, in need of major repairs, was instead demolished in 1971.

The lighthouse, decommissioned after World War II and acquired by the Borough in 1956, became the town library and recreation center. But after more than two decades of heavy use, the lighthouse was in need of major repairs. Growing concern over the future of the lighthouse in the wake of the loss of the other town landmarks prompted concerned citizens in 1981 to form the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee to “save our lighthouse.” After signing a lease with the Borough, the volunteer committee of preservationists assumed responsibility for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the lighthouse and the preservation of its history through tours and special events. All are captured in photos in the book.

Meet Keepers, Coasties, Volunteers and Visitors

Some 600 images were gathered and submitted to the publisher, a mix of very old, rare photographs, pictures from the last few decades and more recent photos that capture the preservationists, docents and members of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee and the many visitors 006attracted to the lighthouse by the activities held there. Bill, who had been a reporter for The Detroit News and later USA Today and has taken photos that have appeared in newspapers, magazines and books, took many of the contemporary photos. From the 600 photos submitted the editor and Bill selected the final 230 that best tell the lighthouse story.

“It amazed and pleased me to discover how many photos there are out there of Sea Girt Lighthouse, smaller than its neighboring stations, but with a rich and colorful history of distinction and accomplishment,” said Bill. “No matter the mission, Sea Girt Lighthouse not only survived but thrived, due to the dedicated and hard-working keepers, Coast Guardsmen, the Borough and a few generations of committed volunteers. You’ll meet them in the book.”

Sea Girt Lighthouse is open for tours Sundays through mid-November, from 2-4 p.m., except holiday weekends. In addition being available at the lighthouse, copies of each book may be purchased by mail. To order by mail, please specify the title desired, and send a check for $26.99 per copy for purchase, postage and handling, to Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, P.O. Box 83, Sea Girt, NJ 08750. The books can also be purchased from the publisher’s website (https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Home) or at online bookshops such as Amazon.com.



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Mar272016

Expanded Lighthouse Tours: What’s New That’s Very Old

Published by admin at 11:03 AM under

Sunday tours of Sea Girt Lighthouse are underway. And there are more historic artifacts to see than ever before. Several exhibits have been expanded with the addition of important lighthouse artifacts that offer new insight into the lighthouse story.

Knowledgeable and friendly docents, who were busy during the off-season fine-tuning exhibits and expanding the tour narrative, guide visitors through every room in the lighthouse, explaining the purpose of each room and the artifacts on display, which include rare documents and photos and tools used by keepers and Coast Guardsmen.

Visitors will explore the changing missions of the lighthouse from its years under the command of the U.S. Light-House Board and then the U.S. Lighthouse Service, through the Coast Guard era that extended from mid-1939 to mid-1956, followed by the years it was the Borough library and recreation center. And since 1981, the volunteers of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee have maintained the shore landmark as the community beacon, preserving its rich history through tours and special programs, and making it available to community groups who meet there. The lighthouse is in use some 180 days a year.

Tours are conducted Sundays 2-4 p.m. through November 20, except holiday weekends. Tours are free of charge. Donations are encouraged, appreciated and help the volunteers maintain the lighthouse and keep it open to the public. Please note there will be no tours on these Sundays: May 8 (Mother’s Day), May 29 (Memorial Day weekend), June 19 (Father’s Day), July 3 (Independence Day weekend), September 4 (Labor Day weekend) and October 9 (Columbus Day weekend).

Recent Discoveries of Old Photos

The parlor, furnished with period pieces, transports visitors back in time to the early days of the lighthouse a century ago. On the mantel of the soapstone fireplace surround are photos of the keeper families that called Sea Girt Lighthouse home. Recent discoveries that have been added to the photo collection include:

001o Elvin (Toots) Lake, who grew up at Sea Girt Lighthouse as the son of the longest-serving keeper William (Pappy) Lake, who served from 1917-31. Toots was an adventurous boy who fished, swam, rowed his boat on Wreck Pond and kept rabbits in the backyard hutch. A photo, circa 1917, captures Toots in a sailor suit, holding a pair of binoculars he used to scan the waters, just like his dad did every day.

o George Thomas, assistant keeper at Fire Island Light, is seen standing on the deck of a listing wrecked ship, stranded off the island, circa 1910. Another photo shows Thomas and his wife Minnie, with daughter Lucy, at a family gathering, circa 1915. In 1931 George Thomas, recently widowed, requested transfer to Sea Girt Light and arrived in October, with daughters Alice and Lucy.

003 o Alice Thomas became acting keeper for one day in 1936, taking charge while her father was away on family business. She would go on to attend the local Ann May School of Nursing. Her photo appears in the 1941 yearbook and identifies her as the class president. In October of that year she enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurses Corps, served during World War II in Australia and later the Philippines, nursing wounded Allied troops. She would rise to the rank of captain and was awarded the Bronze Star.

o Irvie S. Camburn, from an old seafaring family from Waretown, N.J., had retired from the U.S. Coast Guard after a 33-year hitch. (BoaHe was called back to duty during World War II, and was given command of Sea Girt Light. Here he is seen after World War II in his second retirement.

The photo of Alice Thomas was uncovered in the Medical and Nursing Archives Collection of Jersey Shore University Medical Center by archivist Darlene Robertelli, who conducted her search at the request of lighthouse historian Bill Dunn. She sent a copy of the photo to the lighthouse. The other photos were donated to the lighthouse collection by descendants of the keepers and the Camburn family, who were contacted by Dunn during his year-long research for the pictorial history of Sea Girt Lighthouse, published April 25, 2016 by Arcadia Press in its Images of America series.

The photo book, with a 1,500-word introductory essay followed by some 230 captioned pictures including many images never before published, is a companion book to Dunn’s Sea Girt Lighthouse: The Community Beacon. The latter is a 50,000-word historical narrative with over 100 different photos, published by The History Press in 2014. Both books are for sale at the lighthouse, at $21.99 each, or through the publishers. All author royalties go to lighthouse.

Artifact Additions to Expanded Displays

Lighthouse trustees are ever on the lookout for appropriate artifacts to add to the collection to help tell the lighthouse story. One such recent acquisition is a pair of U.S. Signal Service binoculars, manufactured circa 1895 by Audemair of Paris and used by keepers at a Long Island lighthouse. Signal Service binoculars of this type were routinely issued by the U.S. Lighthouse Service to its light keepers and by the U.S. Life-Saving Service to its station keepers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The binoculars are exhibited in northeast cabinet of the first-floor community room, beside artifacts used by various Sea Girt  keepers, including a 1903-06 lighthouse journal, a 1927 edition of Instructions to Employees of the United States Lighthouse Service, and a brass oil lamp that belonged to Sea Girt’s longest serving keeper, Pappy Lake. The oil lamp was donated by the family of SGLCC trustee Bill Mountford, the keeper’s great-grandson. Bill has served as lighthouse president for two years.

Also, exhibited in the cabinet are two Lighthouse Service artifacts acquired last season:

o Harden Star Hand Grenade Fire Extinguisher, circa 1890, which is a thin glass globe filled with brine water that breaks on impact, spilling its contents. Each lighthouse would be issued many grenades of this type that would be stored throughout the building, which was lighted by oil lamps, including the Fresnel lens. In the event of a fire, the keeper and family would throw as many grenades as necessary to extinguish the fire.

o U.S. Lighthouse Service first-aid kit, circa 1900, that includes: needles and thread for suturing a wound, cloth compress and gauze bandage. The artifact was donated to the collection by Jude Meehan, an SGLCC trustee who collects Coast Guard, Navy and other nautical artifacts and has shared several artifacts with the lighthouse. Jude succeeds Bill Mountford as SGLCC president and will serve a two-year term, beginning May 2016.

Maps and Signal Flags

Exhibits at Sea Girt Lighthouse, which are organized by theme in each room, are works in progress. As artifacts are donated or purchased, they are put into the appropriate exhibit, strengthening that exhibit with new visual elements to be viewed by visitors and explained by docents. And occasionally an entirely new exhibit is added, as was the case last year with the addition of signal flags, now hanging in the tower’s supply room and watch room. The signal flags also come from the nautical collection of Mr. Meehan.

009 The International Code of Signals, drafted by the British Board of Trade in 1855 to enable ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications in the days before radio, was eventually adopted by most seafaring nations, including the United States. There is a flag for each letter. When flown alone, each flag conveyed a message, e.g. danger ahead, stop your vessel, communicate with me, etc. The Light-House Board adopted the International Code of Signals in 1898 to improve communications with all vessels and assist U.S. Navy ships in the Spanish-America War.

Also displayed at Sea Girt Lighthouse on the south wall by the second-floor entrance to the tower is an 1898 Light-House Board map, one of the 008 earliest maps showing Sea Girt Light. A red flag beside the notation Sea Girt Light identifies the lighthouse as also being a Coast Signal Station, gathering weather data. That year the Light-House Board installed phones to enable stations to call each other and report weather conditions to the U.S. Weather Bureau, which issued forecasts based on incoming reports.

In the days of sail, long before satellite navigation by GPS (global positioning system), maps that identified shore landmarks, harbors, inlets with latitude and longitude and distances between lighthouses were essential to dead reckoning, plotting an accurate course and avoiding hazards, such as sandbars, rocks and wrecks. An essential reference series, identifying lighthouses, buoys and other daymarks along with hazards, is U.S. Coast Pilot, published annually by the U.S. Coast Guard in regional volumes. A set of U.S. Coast Pilot is on display at Sea Girt Lighthouse.

The most recently added exhibit is a collection of early New Jersey maps and atlases that pre-date Sea Girt Lighthouse yet are an integral part of the lighthouse story. These early maps and atlases, displayed in the upstairs meeting room on the south wall, illustrate features of the northern New Jersey coastline that presented problems to mariners in the 19th century and finally led the U.S. Light-House Board to build Sea Girt Light, activated December 9, 1896.

The centerpiece of the map collection is an 1877 map that details New Jersey’s 135-mile coast along the Atlantic and up the Delaware. From Navesink Twin Lights to Barnegat Lighthouse is 44½ (land) miles. In fog and storms, mariners often encountered a dark space at the midpoint. Beside the map is an 1879 print of Squan Village, the next town south. In 1888, the Light-House Board was considering the village as the location for a lighthouse to illuminate the dark space. The map and print were donated to the lighthouse collection by trustee Jack Ohweiler.

The Light-House Board’s first choice for a mid-point light was near the navigable Manasquan Inlet, which is seen in an 1879 map photocopy donated by Jeff Heim. But the selected parcel, upon inspection, proved problematic. The Light-House Board then bought another parcel, a mile north, in Sea Girt near the shallow Sea Girt Inlet and Wreck Pond, illustrated in an 1877 map. Sea Girt Inlet was occasionally mistaken for Squan Inlet by sailors seeking a spot to drop anchor and ride out a storm. Sea Girt Lighthouse was built near Sea Girt Inlet to illuminate the dark space midway between Navesink Twin Lights and Barnegat Light and to serve as an identifier of Sea Girt Inlet and a warning to mariners to avoid it and the risk of beaching.

In a display box nearby is Historical & Biographical Atlas of New Jersey Coast (New York: Woolman & Rose, 1878) containing a few hundred plates and maps, some are hand-colored. The volume is opened to the Sea Girt pages. The atlas, which is in excellent condition, was also donated to the lighthouse collection by trustee Ohlweiler. The display box was donated by trustee Bob Varcoe.

At the center of the map room is a ship’s wheel, five feet in diameter, mounted on a pedestal to create a nautical table, which was donated by Don and Cindy Burke. Atop the table is the blowup of an 1890s New Jersey map on which have been placed scale models of New Jersey’s lighthouses, each one at its appropriate location. The exhibit has proven very popular, especially with children.

Keeper’s Dress Blues

In what was the bedroom of the keeper and later the Coast Guard commanding officer is the jewel of the lighthouse collection, a 4th order Fresnel lens that had long been in service at Crowdy Head Lighthouse, New South Wales, Australia and is believed to be the original lens there from 1878. Sea Girt’s 4th order Fresnel lens was removed by the Coast Guard during World War II, so as not to give direction to enemy ships. SGLCC trustees, unable to locate the original lens and wanting to add a lens to the collection, found the Australian lens being offered on eBay in 2001.

012When not tending the Fresnel lens, keepers were often immersed in writing reports, completing requisitions for supplies, updating the daily logbook with details of station and ship activity and weather conditions, and responding to queries from the district superintendent. This routine but essential work is captured in a new display. By the Keepers Gallery of photo portraits of Sea Girt’s keepers, trustees Meehan, Catherine Schwier and Peter Halas have recreated a keeper’s office with period items they donated, including a fold-down secretary desk, a 1920s L.C. Smith typewriter and a silver pen tray, circa 1900, with two ink bottles and a dipping pen. Neatly arranged on the table are stacks of actual USLHS-Sea Girt Lighthouse correspondence and various official forms including a leave-of-absence application and a completed station inventory and accounts booklet. Inserted into the typewriter is a USLHS form, just waiting for the keeper to complete.

Beside the desk is a clothes tree on which hangs a replica of a keeper’s 1900 Lighthouse Service dress blue uniform, expertly tailored by Jim Newberry, who makes his own uniforms for Revolutionary War re-enactments and made the military uniforms for the 1992 Hollywood film Last of the Mohicans. Seen wearing the uniform as he stands by the Fresnel lens is Jude Meehan.

Volunteering

Volunteers of all ages are welcome. For students, volunteering as a docent qualifies as community service, which many schools now require students to do. It also is an opportunity for young people to develop confidence and poise as well as public speaking ability. Scripts are provided to all docent recruits who are teamed with an experienced docent in the beginning.

Anyone interested in volunteering to be a docent or to donate artifacts or to help in other ways is asked to send an email to support@seagirtlighthouse.com, or call the lighthouse at 732-974-0514 and leave a message on the answering machine. All emails and messages are promptly answered by a trustee.



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Oct242015

Join Us For a Moonlight Climb October 27

Published by admin at 12:21 AM under

Attention Sea Girt Lighthouse website visitors.

Please join us on Tuesday, October 27 from 6:30 to 9 PM at the lighthouse for which should be a spectacular moonlight tower climb and tour of the lighthouse.

The moon will be full, the weather should be cooperating and the views could be spectacular.

Bring your cameras.

Refreshments will be plentiful.

Join the lighthouse trustees, your friends and neighbors in a celebration of the fall season, a beautiful moon and our treasured lighthouse.



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May032015

SGLCC To Be Honored For Preservation Efforts

Published by admin at 10:27 PM under

Sea Girt Mayor Ken Farrell will preside at ceremonies Saturday, May 16 at 2 p.m. at the community service monument by MacInnes Plaza to which the name of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee is being added "for preserving the community beacon and its history." The monument stands in recognition of "Sea Girt men and women who have provided exemplary service to the community."

"This honor is deeply appreciated and recognizes the contributions of our many members and trustees over three-and-a-half decades," noted Bill Mountford, president of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee. "I thank Mayor Farrell and the Borough Council for their longstanding support and this acknowledgment." Mr. Mountford encourages members, including past trustees, to join current trustees at the ceremony. In celebration and to spotlight the landmark, Sea Girt Lighthouse will be open from 2:30 p.m. that Saturday for exploration and tours. "All are welcome," said Mr. Mountford.



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Apr072015

Lighthouse Tours: New Displays, More History

Published by admin at 6:49 AM under

Guided Sunday tours of Sea Girt Lighthouse this year offer visitors more to see and learn with the addition of several historic artifacts to the displays and a special exhibit of keeper uniforms soon to be unveiled. The tours are conducted Sundays 2-4 p.m. through November 22, except holiday weekends.

“I invite you to join us. We’ve expanded our displays with artifacts acquired in recent months. We’re eager to share the compelling story of this SGL_MOUNTFORD_MEEHAN treasured landmark,” said Bill Mountford, president of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, the non-profit, volunteer organization that operates the lighthouse. Bill is himself living history, being the great-grandson of Sea Girt’s longest-serving keeper, William (“Pappy”) Lake, keeper from 1917-31, and the grandson of Elvin (“Toots”) Lake, one of the Sea Girt lifeguards involved in in the 1934 Morro Castle rescue.

Jude Meehan, vice-president and the head docent who can often be found in the tower during tours, adds: “Visitors explore every room in the lighthouse from the keeper’s office on up to the very top of the tower. There will be a friendly and knowledgeable docent in each room to point out the artifacts there and explain their significance and the room’s purpose.

Mr. Meehan encourages people to take the tour and then consider becoming a docent. “New docents are always welcome,” he said. “Join the fun. Meet people who come here from down the block, across the country and around the world. And you’ll have the rewarding experience of helping to preserve history.”

Tours are free of charge. Donations are encouraged, appreciated and help the volunteers maintain the lighthouse and keep it open to the public. Please note there will be no tours on these Sundays: May 10 (Mother’s Day), May 24 (Memorial Day weekend), June 21 (Father’s Day), July 5 (Independence Day weekend), September 6 (Labor Day weekend) and October 11 (Columbus Day weekend).

What’s Old That’s New

Trustees are always on the lookout for historic artifacts to add to the collection and put on display to help tell the Sea Girt Lighthouse story. Among the recent acquisitions, to be seen in northeast cabinet of the first-floor community room, is a Harden Star Hand Grenade Fire Extinguisher, circa 1890, which were commonplace in all U.S. lighthouses, to be used in the event of fire.

uslhs_firefighting_grenade The displayed fire grenade, a reminder of the constant risk of fire at lighthouses because of the fuel used to light the tower lens as well as the oil lamps in the living quarters, is a thin glass globe, 7-inches in diameter, filled with brine water, and having a long stem. Every lighthouse would have numerous fire grenades stored throughout the building. If a fire occurred, the keeper would start throwing the grenades at the flames, hoping to extinguish them as the globes shattered on impact, spilling the brine water.

Another emergency item added to the display in the same case is a first-aid kit, circa 1910, issued by the U.S. Lighthouse Service to a San Francisco lighthouse. It was acquired by Mr. Meehan, who donated it to the collection.

On the 2nd floor is a display of navigational maps and flags added last fall, now being expanded, that relates to the lighthouse role as a signal station and weather station. The centerpiece of the exhibit is an 1898 color map, published by the U.S. Light-House Board. It is one of the earliest maps to identify Sea Girt Light.

Beside the notation Sea Girt Light is a small red flag, indicating the station was also a coast signal station. In 1898, Sea Girt and other coast signal stations were equipped with telephones to maintain contact with each other and headquarters. The phones were also used by keepers to give their weather reports to the U.S. Weather Bureau that would issue weather forecasts based on their analysis of the keepers’ local reports.

That same year, the Light-House Board issued Sea Girt and other stations signal code flags, based on the International Code of Signals system,  developed decades before by the British Board of Trade and adopted by the U.S. and most other seafaring HardenStarnations for enhanced ship-to-ship as well as ship-to-shore communications. The issuance of flags sets to light keepers was intended to improve communications with passing ships generally and specifically to assist U.S. Navy ships in the Spanish-American War that year, as the U.S. was allied with Cuba in its War of Independence against Spain.

A flag set included flags for each letter, pennants for 0-9, and weather pennants and flags. Letter flags can be arranged to spell out a word, or flown alone or in combinations up to three to relay a complete message. Signal flags were used to answer ship queries and relay a station’s identity, location, storm warnings, etc. At Sea Girt the keeper ran the flags up a yardarm flagpole on the east lawn. Signal flags are still used today by the commercial and naval ships of many nations.

An 1894 copy of the International Code of Signals handbook is included in the display. There are also a few signal code flags, issued by the U.S. Navy circa 1944, hanging in tower’s supply room and watch room, with more to be added.

New to the first-floor Morro Castle exhibit is a full-color reproduction of a Morro Castle menu, which is in English on one side and Spanish on the other. Henry Olsen, of Brick, contacted lighthouse trustees last fall to alert them that he had the menu in his collection of maritime artifacts which he made available to be scanned.

Keeper’s Uniforms

In what had been the keeper’s bedroom, and then the commanding officer’s quarters during the Coast Guard years, is now the jewel of the  lighthouse collection, an authentic fourth order Fresnel lens.

Also in the room is the Keepers’ Photo Gallery where the photo portraits of Sea Girt’s keepers hang, along with the photo and the official 1911 Lighthouse Service obituary of the Ida Lewis, the legendary keeper of the offshore Lime Rock Light in Newport Harbor in Rhode Island. A powerful swimmer and rower, the fearless Lewis was credited by the Lighthouse Service – successor of the Light-House Board – with saving the lives of 13 fishermen and boaters who got in trouble in the harbor. Other sources credit Ida with saving three times that number during her long career. She was known as “the bravest woman in America.”

319A new exhibit soon to be unveiled in the same room will include exact replicas of the Lighthouse Service regulation dress blue keeper uniform and fatigue uniform, vintage 1910. The tailor, making the uniforms, is a history buff from Burlington County who participates in historic re-enactments of Revolutionary War and Civil War battles. He began making his own uniforms, which are so accurate in their detail, he has had many requests from individuals, museums and Hollywood film productions to make uniforms for them.

He has made a lighthouse keeper’s uniform for the museum at Montauk Point Lighthouse and British, French and colonial uniforms for the 1992 movie Last of the Mohicans, among others. The keeper uniforms for Sea Girt Lighthouse are being made in size 40 regular, which is Mr. Meehan’s size. He served as the fitting model.

The dress uniform to be displayed will include a double breasted jacket with four rows of brass buttons and matching vest over over a white shirt and black silk tie, with matching navy blue trousers. The dress uniform was worn when the inspector or other dignitary was visiting the lighthouse and when the keeper was away from the station on official business. When on routine duty, the keeper wore the fatigue uniform of coveralls or overalls. Whether in the dress blues or fatigues, the keeper always wore the distinctive visored, oval cap. Similar in style to a train conductor’s cap, it was distinguished by the embroidered Lighthouse Service emblem of a lighthouse in silver thread in a circle of laurel in gold thread.

Added to the first-floor Morro Castle exhibit is a full-color reproduction of a Morro Castle menu, which is in English on one side and Spanish on the other. Henry Olsen, of Brick, contacted lighthouse trustees last fall to alert them that he had the menu in his collection of maritime artifacts which he made available to be scanned.

The Tour

The tour explores the changing missions and commands of the lighthouse from its years under the command of the U.S. Light-House Board and  then the U.S. Lighthouse Service, through the Coast Guard era that extended from mid-1939 to mid-1956, followed by the years it was the Borough library and recreation center. And since 1981, the volunteers of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee have maintained it as the community beacon, preserving its rich history through tours and special programs, and making it available to community groups who meet there. The lighthouse is in use some 180 days a year.

Pub 1Sea Girt was activated December 10, 1896 to illuminate a dark space mariners encountered midway between Navesink Twin Lights and Barnegat Lighthouse. In 1920 Sea Girt became the first land-based station in the world equipped with a radio-fog beacon transmitter. On September 8, 1934, the lighthouse beacon offered a guiding light to the crew of burning cruise ship Morro Castle and the rescue ships and gave hope to those who abandoned the Morro Castle.

During World War II, the beacon was extinguished so as not to give navigational aid to enemy ships known to be in local waters. Coast Guardsmen stood watch in the tower and patrolled the beaches. No matter the mission, Sea Girt Lighthouse has met the challenges, thanks to the hard work and skills of a colorful assortment of keepers and family members and Coast Guardsmen, many of whom can be seen in the photo exhibits.

Volunteering

For the latest lighthouse news, visit the lighthouse website (www.seagirtlighthouse.org). Anyone interested in volunteering for Sunday tours as a docent or to staff the merchandise table of lighthouse souvenirs, to donate artifacts or to help in other ways is asked to send an email to support@seagirtlighthouse.com, or call the lighthouse at 732-974-0514 and leave a message on the answering machine. All emails and messages are promptly answered by a trustee.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome. For students, volunteering as a docent qualifies as community service, which many schools now require students to do. It also is an opportunity for young people to develop confidence and poise as well as public speaking ability. Scripts are provided to all docent recruits who are teamed with an experienced docent in the beginning.



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Nov252014

2nd Annual Full Moon Night Climb

Published by admin at 8:19 AM under

For only the second time ever, Sea Girt Lighthouse will be open to the public for a night climb to the top of the tower Saturday, December 6 between 6 and 9 p.m. That particular night was chosen because there will be a full moon, which will illuminate the lighthouse, beach and ocean affording spectacular vistas.

090 “On behalf of my fellow trustees, I invite all to join us for this fun community event,” said Bill Mountford, president of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee. “It makes for a nice family outing and a memorable start to the holiday season.”

The lighthouse will be at its most beautiful. Trustee will have decorated the lighthouse for the season with garland on the porch and tower railings, with wreaths on the front door and the tower’s gallery. Festive lights will shine in every window. In keeping with tradition that goes back decades, members of the Holly Club will have decorated the parlor, community room and stairway banister with seasonal flowers and greenery and a tree will be trimmed in the parlor.

The carefully chosen date, offering the full moon, also holds historic significance, for the climb will comes only four days before the 118th anniversary of the activation of Sea Girt Lighthouse, December 10, 1896. And it is believed that the first keeper, Abraham Wolf, was already in residence December 6, 1896.

“This is a rare opportunity, not to be missed,” said Jude Meehan, SGLCC vice-president who conceived of the night climb. “I encourage all to bring their cameras. There will be great views to be captured.” Last year’s inaugural night climb proved such a success that trustees decided to make this an annual event and are expecting a big turnout.

harden_star_fire_grenade Trustee Meehan will be easy to recognize, as he will be wearing an exact replica of the navy blue bell cap with the embroidered lighthouse insignia of the U.S. Lighthouse Board that keepers always wore when on duty and Mr. Meehan always wears when on docent duty in the tower.

There will be a table on the lawn with several pairs of binoculars for visitors to use to study the exterior of the lighthouse as it is bathed in moonlight and to study the full moon. After that visitors can proceed into the lighthouse. There will be friendly and knowledgeable docents stationed on the porch and throughout the building to direct people and answer questions.

As space in the lighthouse is limited, the tower will be open for the full three hours to accommodate night climbers on a flow basis. The climb up the tower goes up a spiral staircase and then a ladder into the lantern room, which has enough room for 8 people at a time.

uslhs_firefighting_grenade Exhibits

There is much to see in other rooms, which are filled with artifacts, with several recently acquired items, including an 1890s Harden Star Fire Grenade, a glass globe filled with salt water and brine. Every lighthouse would have dozens of fire grenades throughout the building. In the event of a fire, the keeper would throw the grenades at the walls, floorboards or equipment that were afire. The globes would break on impact and spill their contents on the fire, hopefully dousing the flames.

Also newly added to the exhibits are an 1889 navigational chart, one of the earliest to identify Sea Girt Light, a Light-House Board first-aid kit that came from a San Francisco lighthouse, and international signal code flags, which lighthouses used to communicate with passing ships before radio communication. The last two items were donated by Vice-President Meehan.

Other Activities036

Refreshments will be offered in the community room. Wandering carolers will fill the air with holiday songs and put everyone in a festive mood.

Trustee and lighthouse historian Bill Dunn will be in the parlor, signing copies of his book Sea Girt Lighthouse: The Community Beacon, the definitive history of the lighthouse richly illustrated with 110 photos. The book, which makes a nice gift, will be available for $21.99, with all proceeds going to the lighthouse.

Admission to the night climb is free, but donations are appreciated and help to fund lighthouse operations.

Photo of Sea Girt Lighthouse decorated for 2013 full moon night climb by Henry Bossett.



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Nov012014

Lighthouse Challenge 2014 Success

Published by admin at 12:10 PM under

What began as a trickle became a steady stream much of the weekend of the Lighthouse Challenge October 18 and 19 as enthusiastic participants from all over arrived at Sea Girt Lighthouse in their quest to visit 11 historic New Jersey lights, two life-saving stations and one museum in just two days.

After signing the guest book, participants made sure to check in at the Challenge desk to collect the official souvenir of Sea Girt Lighthouse, a 007 handsome card with a color image of the lighthouse in quadruplicate. This is the proof of having made the stop. If they were on schedule, visitors would have a quick look about and maybe a climb to the top of the tower before venturing off to the next stop. Many enthusiasts also brought lighthouse passports and added the Sea Girt stamp to their collection of lighthouses they’ve visited, not just this one weekend but on other excursions as well.

Having made every stop, successful Challenge takers received a prized card that read: Congratulations on completing the 2014 Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey. The card featured the crests of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, the U.S. Coast Guard which absorbed the Lighthouse Service in 1939, and the two agencies – the Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service – that were merged in 1915 to create the Coast Guard.

From Far and Wide

This is the 15th annual Lighthouse Challenge. While the majority of visitors over the Challenge weekend came from New Jersey with a strong turnout from New York and Pennsylvania, the guestbook recorded visitors from 16 states, from as far away as Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois and Indiana. There were also visitors from France, Germany and Italy. Seconds before the clock in the hallway of Sea Girt Lighthouse chimed 6 o’clock on Sunday evening, the last visitor arrived to collect her souvenir.

She brought the total of visitors to 1,716. Of that number, 1,536 came specifically to do the Challenge. The others dropped in to see what all the excitement was about and to take the opportunity explore the lighthouse, during the two days of extended hours. And there were those who came Sunday during the normal tour hours.

Altogether the turnout was highest at Sea Girt in the last five years, and a 28 percent increase over last year. Certainly the mild weather and sunny skies and moderate gas prices helped boost attendance.

challenge_2014_completion “We volunteers at Sea Girt Lighthouse look forward to this event and the chance to show our station to fellow lighthouse enthusiasts and tell them the story of our lighthouse of distinction,” said Bill Mountford, president of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee who was there both days. “We were gratified by the turnout.”

Exhibits and Special Displays

Visitors learned that Sea Girt Lighthouse was built specifically to address a problem that mariners encountered in the area in storms and fog when they often were unable to see the beacons of Navesink Twin Lights to the north or Barnegat Light to the south. Sea Girt, equipped with a 4th order Fresnel lens, was activated December 10, 1896, illuminating the dark space. Sea Girt’s beacon projected up to 15 miles.

Over the Challenge weekend, people were encouraged to explore the lighthouse from the keeper’s office, throughout the living quarters and up to the top of the tower. Docents were assigned to each room, welcoming people and answering any questions they had. Each room is filled with historic photos, maps, flags and other artifacts that tell the story of Sea Girt Lighthouse during its years of operation by the U.S. Lighthouse Service and then the U.S. Coast Guard. There is also a exhibit on the Coast Guard’s predecessors: the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, which was the customs collection agency, and the U.S. Life-Saving Service, which began in New Jersey because of all the shipwrecks here.

Among the artifacts on display: an 1898 U.S. Light-House Board map of the 4th Light-House District, one of the earliest maps to identify Sea Girt Lighthouse; an 1890s Harden Star Fire Grenade, a thin glass globe filled with salt water and brine that was standard issue to lighthouses over a century ago and would be thrown at a fire in hopes of extinguishing the flames; the 1903-06 logbook of Sea Girt’s second keeper, Abram Yates; the oil lamp used by keeper William Lake, 1917-31, before the lighthouse was electrified.

The jewel of the collection, which many visitors photographed and had their photos taken beside, is a 4th order Fresnel lens. It is not Sea Girt’s original Fresnel lens, which was turned off and removed during World War II, but the same size lens that had been in service at New Crowdy Head Lighthouse in Australia.

In addition to these regular displays there were two special displays from the personal collection of Jude Meehan, SGLCC vice-president, that he put up for the event, that recall lighthouse history.

014 Mr. Meehan was dressed for the occasion, wearing an exact replica of a keeper’s navy blue cap with the Lighthouse Service crest of lighthouse in silver thread above a laurel wreath in gold thread.

Hanging from the porch, the tower’s gallery railing and inside the tower were international signal code flags from Mr. Meehan’s collection, similar to the type of flags issued to Sea Girt and other stations in 1898 by the Light-House Board for station to ship communications.

And on the west lawn, Mr. Meehan pitched Army tents, as did Army troops assigned to Sea Girt on temporary duty in the summer of 1943. At that point there were 28 Coast Guardsmen at the station and a handful of soldiers. They patrolled the beaches and stood watch in the tower.

Pharologist

Among the visitors to Sea Girt was a familiar face, 23-year-old Greg Fitzgerald, who was welcomed by fellow docents. Greg, first volunteered at Sea Girt Lighthouse during the 2001Challenge when he was only 10-years-old. He’s been back most every year since. An unrivaled lighthouse enthusiast and authority, he has visited more than 400 lighthouses around the world, taking photos at every stop. He says Sea Girt is his favorite lighthouse.

A leading authority on lighthouses, Greg gives talks and leads tours of lighthouses. He qualifies as a leading pharologist, defined as a student of or expert on lighthouses. The term derives from Pharos, believed to be the first lighthouse, which was built on the island of Pharos, in Alexandria, Egypt around 400 B.C.

This year, Star-Ledger reporter MaryAnn Spoto and photographer Patti Sapone accompanied Greg as he visited Sandy Hook, Navesink Twin Lights and Sea Girt. The resulting story, “For Lovers of Lighthouses, New Jersey Offers a Tall Challenge,” can be seen at NJ.com here (http://www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2014/10/for_lovers_of_lighthouses_new_jersey_offers_a_tall_challenge.html).

In an accompanying video shot by Ms. Sapone, Greg makes an important point: “The one thing I hope people take away from this weekend is not just that they climbed 11 lighthouses and visited 3 museums and how many stairs they climbed, but how much work there is to be done at a lot of these stations. Every lighthouse in the state has some project that needs to be done. And it needs funding a lot of times from private sources.”

Sea Girt Lighthouse welcomes new members and volunteers to join the never-ending and always thrilling preservation effort.

Challenge Stops

Heading south along the ocean and then up the Delaware River, the lighthouses in the 2014 Challenge, with the year of activate in parentheses, plus the bonus stops, were:

o Sandy Hook Lighthouse (1764). Oldest surviving U.S. lighthouse – and still on duty.

o Twin Lights (1862). On the Navesink Highlands 200 feet above sea level. First electric powered lighthouse (1898) and the most powerful beacon that could be seen for 22 miles.

o Sea Girt Lighthouse (1896). Illuminated blind spot between Twin Lights and Barnegat.

o Barnegat Lighthouse (1858). Denotes 40th parallel, crucial point in transatlantic sailing.

o Barnegat Light Museum. Old Barney’s 1st order Fresnel lens on display here.

o Tucker’s Island Lighthouse (1868). Replica built 1999 of lighthouse lost in 1927 storm.

o Absecon Lighthouse (1857). Built near Atlantic City as warning of dangerous shoals.

o Life-Saving Station 30 (1885). Stations like No. 30 were built with funds released by an 1871 bill sponsored by a New Jersey congressman that created the Life-Saving Service.

o Tatham Life-Saving Station 35 (1895). Built on the Stone Harbor site of one of the earliest U.S. life-saving stations.

o Hereford Inlet Lighthouse (1874). Built in North Wildwood to guide ships in the inlet.

o Cape May Lighthouse (1859). Replaced two earlier lights destroyed by storms and tides.

o Cape May Museum. Current tower’s 1st order Fresnel lens on display here.

o East Point Lighthouse (1849). At the confluence of Delaware Bay and Maurice River.

o Finns Point Rear Range Light (1877). Mariners were safely in the Delaware River channel when this beacon and a shorter front-range beacon aligned as one beam.

o Tinicum Range Light (1880). Rear-range light farther up the Delaware River, teamed with a smaller front-range light to guide ships into Camden and Philadelphia Harbors.

In completing the Challenge, participants traveled some 430 miles.

Retaking the Challenge as a Board Game

challenge_2014_game_board This year’s souvenirs offered Challenge takers a special treat – the chance to do the Challenge all over again, as a board game to be played by 2 to 4 people. At the first stop, participants paid $1 to receive an attractive full-color, bi-fold board that when unfolded measures 10¾x25½ inches.

On one side was a stylized roadmap that identified each lighthouse, life-saving station and the one museum in the Challenge with the same images appearing on the souvenir cards given out at each station. Challenge takers were also issued a pair of dice.

The object of the game is to be first to land on all 14 stops, covering each with the souvenir token collected at the stations. To make the game interesting, there are hazards along the way, just as there are in the actual Challenge, e.g. construction zones, detours, traffic circles and speed traps that can cause players to lose a turn or go back a few spaces.

Preservation Collaboration

The Challenge was a collaborative effort, co-sponsored by the organizations that run the individual sites. The primary goal of the Challenge was to promote awareness of New Jersey’s lighthouses specifically and lighthouses generally.

Admission to Sea Girt Lighthouse and several others was free, although donations were encouraged and appreciated. Several stops did have nominal admission charges. The funds raised enable the various preservation groups to continue their efforts.

Lighthouse Challenge 2015

Mark your calendar for next year when the 2015 Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey will be October 17-18.

Photos by Catherine Schwier



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Sep292014

Sea Girt Lighthouse Accepts the Lighthouse Challenge

Published by admin at 12:44 AM under

By Peter R. Halas

On Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, 2014, Sea Girt Lighthouse will be welcoming a thousand or more lighthouse lovers as a key stop in the 15th annual Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey. The lighthouse will be open from 8 AM to 6 PM both days.

CHALLENGE_FRONT Bill Mountford, president of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, said, “The Lighthouse Challenge is a great opportunity to show the Sea Girt Lighthouse to over a thousand enthusiastic people in just one weekend.

“The Challenge is an excellent family activity, offering the perfect combination of entertainment and historical education. You don’t have to be a lighthouse expert to appreciate the Challenge, simply enjoy the adventure the weekend offers.”

Trustees and docents will be in each room to proudly discuss the history of Sea Girt Lighthouse and the meaning of the historical photographs and authentic lighthouse pieces, especially the Frensel lens on display. Visitors will have full access to the lighthouse, from the keeper’s office, throughout the living quarters, and up to the lantern room at the top of the tower.

Challenge participants will attempt to visit 11 lighthouses in New Jersey over the weekend in addition to one museum and two life-saving stations for total of 14 stops, collecting a stamp at each stop. When the visitors have collected a stamp from each lighthouse they will have covered about 430 miles and will receive a certificate of completion.

In previous years, visitors came from all over New Jersey, many states and Canada, and as far away as Europe. Interest in the history of lighthouses and their importance commercially and militarily, is strong and growing in the United States and in other countries. A strong turnout of locals, and people from many states and aboard is anticipated.

CHALLENGE_BACK Sea Girt Lighthouse, located at Ocean Avenue and Beacon Boulevard, flashed its first light on December 10, 1896. The light at this location eliminated the blind spot along the treacherous near-shore waters between the Twin Lights Lighthouse in Navesink and the Barnegat Lighthouse. The lighthouse was important for the development of radio navigation in the 1920s and served as a Coast Guard station with the light extinguished in World War II.

Bill Dunn, lighthouse historian and author of the new and definitive history of Sea Girt Lighthouse, which will be available for purchase during the challenge, explained, “The Lighthouse Challenge is something the volunteers at Sea Girt Lighthouse look forward to. We get to meet other lighthouse enthusiasts and have the opportunity to show them our favorite lighthouse and her extensive collection of artifacts.”

Lighthouse vice president Jude Meehan will again provide for display U.S. Navy signal flags and related military equipment.

Sea Girt Lighthouse trustees and volunteers invite you to take the Challenge, join the fun, visit Sea Girt Lighthouse and the other lighthouses the weekend of October 18 and 19. Directions and hours of operation are listed at www.lighthousechallengeNJ.org.



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