With twin rubblestone towers, this light station was established on the
highlands to mark the western entrance to New York Harbor. Commander Matthew
C. Perry, at the direction of Congress, brought the first Fresnel lenses
into this country, and these were mounted on the twin towers at Navesink in
1840. In its 1852 investigation, the Lighthouse Board reported that these
lights were "the best on the coast" and were "vastly superior to the Sandy
Hook light, at equal and at greater distances." By 1857 the twin towers
were in poor condition, and the Lighthouse Board decided to replace them.
It erected 73-foot brownstone towers, one octagonal and one square,
connected by a brownstone dwelling. The lantern on each of the towers
was fitted with a frst-order lens, with the focal plane of each light
246 feet above sea level. The keepers lit these new lights on May 1, 1862.
In 1883 the lights became the initial first-order lenses to use mineral oil.
In 1898 the Lighthouse Board installed an electric arc bivalve lens in the
south tower, the first electrically powered primary light in this country
and, at 25-million candlepower, the most powerful. (The Statue of Liberty
was the first electrically lighted lighthouse in the country, but its light
was only a harbor guide.) At the time of electrification of the south tower,
the board took the north tower out of service.
Over the years, the south tower lost some of its importance as a navigational
aid and was reduced in power, eventually to 5,000 candlepower. The Coast
Guard automated the light in 1949, decommissioned the station in 1953, and
the following year turned over the property to the borough of Highlands
for development as a historic site. Today, the state of New Jersey owns and
operates the site and has established a museum of the history of lighthouses
and the U.S. Life Saving Service, which had its beginning at Sandy Hook.
Its interpretive program tours are focused on the lighthouse.
Location: Off Route 36, Highlands
Directions:Take Garden State Parkway North or South to exit 117. Go East on Route 36 to sign
on right just before the drawbridge, follow signs to top of hill.
Visiting Status: Open to public.
Information: (732) 872-1814
Architects: Joseph Lederle
Light Operational: Yes
Date Deactivated: 1898-1962
Tower Height: 73 feet
Original Optic: First Order Fresnel
Present Optic: 1881 Sixth Order Fresnel
Light Operational: No
Date Deactivated: 1952
Tower Height: 73 feet
Original Optic: First Order Fresnel (1862 - 1898)
Arc Bivalve Lens (1898 - 1953)
Present Optic: None