Absecon Lighthouse State Historic Site


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Every October the NJ Lighthouse Society runs the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey in order to raise funds for the state’s historic lighthouses and maritime sites. This year, we purchased an incomplete commemorative deck of cards at our starting point and then tried to complete the deck by collecting cards at each of the participating locations. There were 13 sites included in the challenge this year and I got to 5 of them on the Saturday of the challenge.


For my first stop I visited the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City.  Absecon Inlet was called Graveyard Inlet due to all the shipwrecks that took place there. Jonathan Pitney, the ‘Father of Atlantic City’, pushed for federal funding for a lighthouse to illuminate the dangerous waters.


The beacon was first lit in 1857. In its heyday, the lighthouse was a popular tourist attraction and the keepers did double duty as tour guides.


The light was decommissioned in 1933 and went dark for decades. Today, it shines on Atlantic City every night but is no longer an active navigational aid. The tower and keeper’s house were restored in the late 1990s, though the house was destroyed by fire during the renovation and had to be completely reconstructed.


Absecon Light is a State Historic Site, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is managed by a non-profit organization.


The  lighthouse is the tallest in New Jersey at 171 feet. It has 228 steps which I know because I climbed them. When I arrived at the top, huffing and puffing, a nice volunteer handed me a card for having made the journey.


Back down in the keeper’s house I perused the museum displays. I took some pictures outside. And then I hurried off to my next stop in the challenge.


Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:

  • Sandy Hook Lighthouse
  • Navesink Twin Lights (coming soon)
  • Absecon Lighthouse
  • Tuckerton Seaport (coming soon)
  • Barnegat Lighthouse (coming soon)
  • Barnegat Maritime Forest Trail (coming soon)
  • Barnegat Museum (coming soon)
  • Sea Girt Lighthouse (coming soon)


Location: 31 S Rhode Island Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Designation: State Historic Site, NRHP

Date designated or established: 9/11/1970 (NHRP)

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018


Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River: Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct


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The National Park Service manages the stretch of the Delaware from Hancock to Sparrowbush, NY…about 73 miles…under the Wild and Scenic River System. The Upper Delaware is considered recreational, rather than wild, since the park has some means to control the flow of the water.


Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct/Bridge on the Upper Delaware is also maintained by the NPS. It is the oldest wire suspension bridge in the US and was built by John A. Roebling, who is best known for building the Brooklyn Bridge.


The Delaware Aqueduct used the same engineering principles as the Brooklyn Bridge.


I attended a meet-up here with the National Park Travelers Club. The NPTC has about 2000 paid members nationwide, all who share a passion for visiting the 417 NPS units.  The club had arranged for a park ranger to give our group a tour of the bridge and The Zane Grey museum.


The Aqueduct was built to carry the Delaware and Hudson Canal across the Delaware River. The canal was built in 1828 to carry coal from mines in Northeastern Pennsylvania to New York City. The canal was abandoned in 1898 when the railroad became a more efficient means of transportation.


Our tour began at the D&H Towpath Trail on the New York side of the river. The towpath was once used by mules to help the canal boats move downstream. It now passes under the bridge and past the remnants of a half-mile stretch of the old canal.


Next we followed the ranger past the old toll house, which now is a museum with displays about life on the canal.


We crossed the bridge on the southern pedestrian walk and returned on the northern walk trying to imagine what it had looked like when it was filled with water.  (Scroll to the end for a short video clip.)


When the park purchased the bridge, they restored it to its original appearance, except for the concrete road bed installed to safely accommodate a single lane of traffic. It had already been converted from aqueduct to bridge sometime after the abandonment of the canal, but the road was made of timbers. These had rotted out and actually collapsed under the weight of a truck crossing the bridge.


At each display, the ranger paused to point out features like the steel cable used to suspend the bridge and the ice breakers designed to protect the structure from ice floes in the spring.


Back on the New York side of the river, the ranger pointed out some ruins across the street that were from the old canal. State highway 97 follows the path the canal once took, parallel to the Delaware River.



Location: Lackawaxen, PA

Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River

Date designation declared: 1978

Date of my visit: 7/18/2018

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Navajo Bridge


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The Navajo Bridge in Glen Canyon National Recreation area is off the beaten path. I’d seen photos of it on Instagram when planning this trip, so I knew I had to get it on the itinerary. After having spent a few days seeing the sights around Page, Arizona, we set out for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, with a slight detour to see Navajo Bridge.


This turned out to be a pretty big detour since part of Highway 89 had washed away during a storm and we had to go around through Navajo territory and then back up to the turn-off to the bridge. And then, when we got there, the Interpretive Center was closed. There hadn’t been any mention of that on the website…we should have called.


Undeterred, we parked in the lot on the opposite side of the canyon from the visitor center, walked across the pedestrian bridge, took photos and then shopped in the Native American craft market in the parking lot.


Navajo Bridge is actually two bridges. The original bridge opened in 1929 providing a direct route from Arizona to Utah across the canyon. Previously, motorists had to either drive 800 miles around to cross the Colorado River or take a ferry.


By the 1990s, the historic bridge was proving inadequate for modern traffic. The historic bridge became a pedestrian bridge and a new bridge was erected across Marble Canyon, slightly downstream from the old one. Though my husband may have been annoyed by the extra drive time, I’m glad we made the trip to see this.

To see my other Glen Canyon National Recreation Area posts, please click on the links:

Location: U.S. Hwy 89 A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 8/19/2014

Navajo Bridge is the 9th highest steel arch bridge in the US, at 470 feet above the Colorado River in Marble Canyon.

Paterson Great Falls Native Heritage Celebration


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In November, we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the USA…a time to gather with family and give thanks for all of our blessings. But it is also an observance of the first Thanksgiving, when the Native Americans and Pilgrims feasted together after the Native Americans helped the new settlers survive their first difficult year.


For Native American Heritage Month, Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park hosted a celebration, with performances by the Silver Cloud Dancers and a tour of the Lenape exhibit at the Paterson Museum. You can see my earlier post on Paterson Great Falls by clicking here.


The Lenape Nation, called Lenapehoking, included Paterson (and all of New Jersey, parts of New York, PA and Delaware), but the Lenape did not live around the falls. They did fish here in the Passaic River.


The Silver Cloud Dancers are an inter-tribal group, with singers, drummers and dancers. They performed both traditional and contemporary dances, while providing insight into the history of the pieces.


I attended the morning show and the timing was just right for the sun to create a rainbow in the mist under the bridge, serving as a spectacular backdrop.


The dancers performed a traditional men’s dance, traditional women’s dance and then the more contemporary, ‘fancier’ versions of each.


One of the vocalists led a singalong, teaching us the words to a simple song.


Here is a short video of the traditional men’s dance. This is a warrior’s victory dance.

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018


Independence NHP: Congress Hall

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In 1790, Philadelphia was chosen as the temporary capital of the newly formed United States. The recently constructed Philadelphia Courthouse was loaned to the Federal Government as a meeting place for the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Our ranger first took us into the large courtroom on the first floor which was used by the House of Representatives.  The furniture here is not original as the desks were auctioned off once the capital moved to DC. The NPS reacquired some of the originals, but they are in the upstairs rooms. So we were able to sit at these authentic looking desks with ink wells while the ranger talked.
Next we went upstairs to see the room used by the Senate as well as some other smaller committee rooms where large paintings of France’s King Louis 16th and Marie Antoinette adorn the walls. These were gifts from France after the American Revolution ended.
In 1800, Washington, DC became the US capital and Congress Hall reverted to serving as the Philadelphia courthouse.

Location: 6th & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date NPS designation declared: 1951

Date of my visit: August 2017


Glacier National Park: Saint Mary Lake


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St. Mary Lake is on the Eastern side of Glacier National Park. Going to the Sun road runs along its North shore. At 10 miles long and 300 feet deep it is the second largest lake in the park.


We boarded a ranger guided lake tour at the Rising Sun Dock, around the midpoint of the lake. I’d reserved it in advance with the Glacier Park Boat Company. The tour traveled from Rising Sun to the Baring Falls dock at the head of the lake in about 30 minutes, with Ranger Melissa narrating the whole way down.


As we traveled towards the Baring Falls dock at the head of the lake, we passed by Wild Goose Island, which we’d previously seen from a different perspective up on Going to the Sun Road.


As we approached the snow-covered peaks at the head of the lake, Melissa pointed out Sexton Glacier, visible on Mount Matahpi, just beyond Going to the Sun Mountain. Like most of the glaciers in the park, it is shrinking and has lost over 30% of its mass in the last 50 years.


We learned that the glaciers are the reason for St. Mary’s unique turquoise color. The slow movement of the ice grinds up the rock into a fine dust called glacial flour. The runoff carries the glacier flour into the lake where the particles remain suspended in the water, reflecting back the light.


Two Medicine and McDonald lakes are beautiful, but not the same vibrant hue as the East side lakes because there are no glaciers feeding into them. The NPS estimates that all the park’s glaciers will be gone by 2030 and then the Eastern lakes will lose their color.


At the dock, we disembarked and took a guided hike with Ranger Melissa. On the way back we passed another small island called Rainbow Island.


To see all of my Going to the Sun Posts, please click the following links:


Location: Going-to-the-Sun Road, East Glacier Park, MT 59434, USA

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 5/11/1910

Date of my visit: 6/24/2018

St Mary Lake on a 3D model of the park at the St. Mary Visitor Center

Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock


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Fort Hancock was built to defend the entrance to New York Harbor in the late 1800s.  It was active through both World Wars and the Cold War, converting to a missile base when the old gun batteries became obsolete. It was deactivated in 1974.


The Fort Hancock Museum is in the Guardhouse which was built in 1899. This building served as the military jail for the base.


Restoration of the building began in 2010 but then suffered serious damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.


In September 2018, the museum was re-opened to the public. It showcases artifacts from all periods of the peninsula’s long history.


My other posts on Sandy Hook:


Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

The fort, together with the proving ground, became a National Historic Landmark District in 1982
A revolutionary war era musket ball, discovered during a recent archaeological dig conducted by Monmouth University
The fort was named for General Hancock who was a war hero at Gettysburg and the Democratic nominee for president in 1880. He lost the election by a narrow margin to James Garfield.
New York’s skyline as seen from the top of the lighthouse with one of the 1800s gun batteries in the foreground. The peninsula is continually being extended by tidal sand deposits so the battery was closer to the water when it was built.