Barnegat Lighthouse

Barnegat Light, colloquially known as " Old Barney", is located in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, in the borough of Barnegat Light, New Jersey, on the south side of Barnegat Inlet.

19th century
The development of the original lighthouse began in June 1834 with the appropriation of $6,000 from Congress. The 40-foot-tall (12 m) lighthouse was commissioned the next year, though mariners at the time considered the building's non-flashing, fifth-class light to be inadequate. Due to the strong currents within the inlet, the lighthouse was built 900 feet (270 m) away from the water; but within ten years only 450 feet (140 m) separated the tower from the water. In 1855, Lt. George G. Meade, an Army engineer and later a Union General in the American Civil War, was assigned to design a new lighthouse. He was chosen largely because of his recent design of Absecon Light. Meade completed the construction plans in 1855 and work began in late 1856. Due to continuing erosion at the time of construction, the new lighthouse was located approximately 100 feet (30 m) south of the original structure"the site of which is now submerged. During construction, in June 1857, the light in the original structure was relocated to a temporary wooden tower located nearby. This was prompted by the encroaching seas which threatened the original lighthouse and ultimately caused the tower to collapse into the water later that year. It is due to the rough waters of the area that several jetties have been built throughout the history of both lighthouses. Barnegat Light was commissioned on January 1, 1859. The tower light was 165 feet (50 m) above sea level and the lighthouse itself was four times taller than the original. The new light was a first-order Flashing Fresnel lens which stood about twelve feet (4 m) tall. The total cost of the project was approximately $40,000, with the lens alone costing $15,000. The current lighthouse is really two towers in one: the exterior conical tower covers a cylindrical tower on the inside.

20th-21st centuries
The lighthouse's beacon remained a first-class navigational light until August 1927, when the Barnegat Lightship was anchored 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) off the coast. This prompted the automation and the replacement of the first-order lens with a gas blinker. As a result, the tower's light was reduced by over 80 percent. The gas blinker was replaced several weeks later with a 250 watt electric bulb, though the gas apparatus can still be seen at the top of the tower. The light was deactivated in January 1944, and given to the State of New Jersey. Four years later, in 1948, the local municipality, Barnegat City, renamed itself Barnegat Light. In 1954, the lens was returned to the borough of Barnegat Light and is now on exhibit in the Barnegat Light Museum. The area around the lighthouse was declared a State park and dedicated in 1957. The lightship was removed in 1969. The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Barnegat Lighthouse in 1971. In 1988, the tower was closed for repair and reopened to visitors in 1991. The top of the lighthouse is accessible via its 217 steps and continues to attract thousands of visitors all year round. In 2008, the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, a local civic organization, raised funds to reactivate the lighthouse. A total of $35,000 was raised, with $20,000 being contributed by the Barnegat Light Borough Fraternal Order of Police Local Lodge No. 5. This supported the acquisition of a new $15,000 VRB-25 light system "the same price as the initial beacon"as well as the replacement of aging windows. Funding was raised entirely at the local level. In October 2008, the VRB-25 system was installed. While physically smaller than the original light, the system has become a standard for US Lighthouses, with more than 100 installed. On January 1, 2009, at 5:00 pm, the 150th anniversary of its opening, Barnegat Lighthouse activated its beacon for the first time since 1944. The light now operates every day from dusk until dawn. There is a foghorn on Barnegat South Breakwater Light 7, at the ocean end of the south breakwater which guards the inlet. The tower is flood-lit at night.

Adjacent to the lighthouse is the Barnegat Lighthouse Interpretive Center, operated by the state of New Jersey, which shows the history of Barnegat Lighthouse from shipwreck to first class seacoast light. Exhibits focus on the history of the lighthouse, lighthouse technology, the duties of Barnegat Lighthouse's keepers, and the efforts to protect Barnegat Lighthouse. Several blocks away is the Barnegat Light Museum, operated by the Barnegat Light Historical Society. It houses the original first order Fresnel lens from the light, as well as related exhibits including images of Sinbad, the WII Coast Guard dog who was enlisted in the service, retired to Barnegat, and is burried at the base of the old Coast Guard station flagpole.

Popular culture
Barnegat Lighthouse was the nominal subject of Situation Barnegat Light, a science fiction novel by Long Beach Island area resident Bradford, Honigsberg. It is depicted on New Jersey's "Shore Conservation" license plates and on the 1996-1997 Federal Duck Stamp.

Building Activity

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