There are so many lighthouse groups around the United States and the world, and all of them do good work. One of the earliest groups in the United States was the New Jersey Lighthouse Society, which formed on June 24, 1990 as a chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. The group is 25 years old today, June 24, 2015, and now operates as an independent 501c3 organization.
The first meeting of the NJLHS (New Jersey Lighthouse Society) was held at the Atlantic County Library in Mays Landing. There were nineteen members in the original group. Today, there are many, many more. This active society has accomplished a great deal in its 25 years, educating the public and fostering preservation efforts at Garden State lighthouses.
The society's original logo featured Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest standing, operative lighthouse in the United States. The Sandy Hook Lighthouse was commissioned in 1764. (Note the postcard below says 1762. The lighthouse was still not illuminated at that time.) Last June 2014 it celebrated 250 years of service to mariners. The society's current logo, shown above, still features the historic Sandy Hook Lighthouse.
There are about a dozen lighthouses in New Jersey. You'll find a variety of architectural styles, from the old octagonal stone tower at Sandy Hook to the twin lighthouses at Navesink. Hereford Inlet Lighthouse is a handsome carpenter gothic lighthouse; only a few of this style were built in the United States, most in California. Barnegat, Absecon, and Cape May lighthouses are tall conical brick towers, fun to climb and with fabulous views from the top. Sea Girt and East Point lighthouses are both house-top towers. (Who wouldn't like a lighthouse on top of their house?) The Finn's Point and Tinicum lights are iron-pile towers with central stair cylinders and tubular legs.
Below--Navesink Twin Lights
Above--Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse
Below--East Point Lighthouse
Above--Hereford Inlet Lighthouse
Below--Cape May Lighthouse
The society produces a newsletter and holds regular meetings around the state. Most New Jersey lighthouses are easily accessible, and many operate as museums. The society website offers much information for travelers and people interested in history and lore. I visited the website today and was glad to find some trivia questions and a matching game. There are special tours to lighthouses outside New Jersey. This month, for example, the group is going to Michigan. Also, you can get a souvenir postal cover of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse's 250th celebration for a mere $2.00! Go to the website (address below) and find out how to get one.
I think the most notable accomplishment of the New Jersey Lighthouse Society was the creation of the first "lighthouse challenge," an autumn weekend of fun for the public visiting New Jersey's lighthouses. Many other groups have copied this event, which seems fine with the NJLHS. They're simply glad to share a good idea!
I was a special guest at one of the challenges. Hereford Inlet Lighthouse invited me to sit at a table on their back porch, meet challenge participants, and sign my books. It was a glorious day, the gardens at the lighthouse were still in bloom, and many people came to share in the fun. I enjoyed meeting all of them! Here are some images taken that day--
Lighthouse fan, Tom Bodall, bought a book and asked me to sign it, then asked my husband to take our picture. Tom posted this image online. It remains one of my favorite fan photos.
Another visitor showed me her fancy lighthouse fingernails!
NJLHS is a terrific organization. If you'd like to learn more, join the group, attend a meeting or trip, or volunteer to help out with the society's work, go to their website at www.njlhs.org or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next society meeting is this Saturday, June 27th at 10:00 a.m. at Maurice River Township Elementary School, 3593 Route 47, Port Elizabeth, NJ 08348. The public is always welcome at meetings, which usually include a speaker, refreshments, displays, and souvenirs to purchase. This Saturday's meeting includes a talk on East Point Lighthouse and a silent auction, followed by a tour of East Point Lighthouse. What fun! I used to attend the meetings regularly when I lived in Connecticut, just a few hours drive from my home. (It's a bit more difficult to go now that I live in the Pacific NW.)
Sandy Hook on its 250th birthday! From www.njlhs.org
If you haven't yet visited the Garden State lighthouses, plan to go. The NJLHS has done a fabulous job saving their lighthouses and educating us about them. Congratulations to these hardworking people on 25 years of service!