Gateway National Recreation Area: Sandy Hook Light

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Sandy Hook Lighthouse reopened on September 30th, 2018 after a ten month restoration project. The renovations included replacing the front door, windows, the lantern deck and walls. The window frames were treated to prevent staining of the lighthouse.

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The lighthouse is the oldest, still-active beacon in the country. Built in 1764, it was only 500 feet from the shoreline. After over 250 years worth of sand deposited by the currents, the lighthouse now sits a mile and a half from the tip of the peninsula.

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During the revolutionary war, the American militia tried to destroy the lighthouse to prevent the British from using it to invade New York, but it survived.

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In the 1800s, it got a new lantern house and a brick lining.

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In 1964, on its 200th birthday, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark.

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After the opening ceremonies and ribbon-cutting we were allowed to climb to the top of the tower and take in the views of the bay, Fort Hancock and New York Harbor.

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My other posts on Sandy Hook:

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Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designated or established: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

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Gateway National Recreation Area: Sandy Hook Light Grand Re-opening

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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I attended the Grand Re-opening festivities for the Lighthouse and Post Museum at Sandy Hook last month.  The historic lighthouse had been closed for about 10 months to correct issues with the foundation and structure that were manifesting themselves in stains on the exterior. The Fort Hancock Museum had been closed since 2010 and suffered a major setback during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

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The $1.3 million dollar cost of the renovation was funded primarily by the parking fees beach-goers are charged during the summer months. The park’s non-profit partner, Sandy Hook Foundation, also raised money to restore both structures.

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The program began with a presentation of the flag by a local academy’s color guard, along with the national anthem and pledge of allegiance.

 

The mayors of Highlands and Middletown, a county Freeholder, a senior Coast Guard official, the superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area and the Commissioner of the National Parks of NY Harbor were all in attendance and spoke briefly about the significance of the Lighthouse and Fort Hancock.

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Commissioner Joshua Laird spoke of the lighthouse as a member of the NY Harbor Parks family, having borne witness to two and a half centuries of American history. Superintendent Jen Nersesian spoke of the lighthouse as a survivor, having outlasted several wars and major hurricanes. And we were all reminded by the Coast Guard official that the Sandy Hook Lighthouse is older than Boston Light’s ‘new’ lighthouse and is therefore the oldest functioning beacon in the US.

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The speeches were followed by a ribbon-cutting, first at the lighthouse and then at the Fort Hancock Museum (housed in the old military jail.)

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There was cake and lemonade in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters (which serves as the visitor center.) There were also some people dressed in Revolutionary War era costumes providing living history demonstrations.

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After cake, I waited on the line for a few minutes to walk up to the top of the lighthouse. Because of the narrow and steep spiral staircase, only eight people were allowed up at a time. The line moved fairly quickly and before I knew it, I was at the top, looking down on Fort Hancock, the Batteries and the New York skyline.

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I headed over to the museum for a slide show and talk about the archaeological digs conducted by Monmouth University while the renovation was in progress.  Artifacts as far back as the revolutionary war were discovered.

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This was a fun event and it was great to see the community involvement in saving these Historic Landmarks. I found out about it through Facebook, of all places, but I’m glad I did!

My other posts on Sandy Hook:

  • Sandy Hook
  • Grand Re-opening
  • Sandy Hook Light (coming soon)
  • Fort Hancock (coming soon)
  • Women’s Barracks (coming soon)

Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designated or established: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

 

National Historic Landmark: The Hermitage

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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For the past 8 years, the Northwest Bergen History Coalition has been holding a themed History Day. On History Day, several historic sites in the area are open, running tours and stamping passports. This year, the theme was ‘How Immigration & The Railroad Shaped Our Towns’ with 10 sites participating.

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The Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus is Bergen County’s first National Historical Landmark. The original dwelling was built in the 1700s.  During the Revolutionary War, Theodosia Prevost was left to tend the property while her husband was off fighting. She opened the home to soldiers as a rest station, extending a personal invitation to General Washington and his troops.

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Theodosia’s husband was killed during the war, but she continued to host the militia. Guests during the Revolution included James Monroe, William Paterson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, Lord Stirling and Aaron Burr.

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Aaron Burr and Theodosia were married at the Hermitage in 1782, after the death of her first husband, and they lived there for a short while. The Rosencrantz Family bought the home in 1807 and in 1847 expanded it to a 14-room Gothic Revival mansion.

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The last surviving Rosencrantz heir, Mary Elizabeth, lived there for her whole life. In her later years, she fell on hard financial times and was unable to properly maintain the house.

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When she burned herself on the fireplace and had to call for help in the late 1960s, it was discovered that she and a cousin had been living in two rooms of the house without any heat or electricity. She was moved to a nursing home and willed the Hermitage to the State of New Jersey. She died in 1970 and ownership of the estate passed to New Jersey with the stipulation that one section of the house dating to the 1700s remain untouched.

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I managed to tour five of the participating sites that day. To see my posts on the other NW Bergen County historic sites, click on the following links:

  1. The Old Stone House (Ramsey)
  2. The Schoolhouse Museum (Ridgewood)
  3. The Hermitage (Ho-ho-kus)
  4. The Zabriskie House (Wyckoff) Coming Soon
  5. The John Fell House (Allendale) Coming Soon

Location: 538 Island Road, Ramsey, NJ 07446

Designation: National Historical Landmark

Date designated or established:: 5/22/1970

Date of my visit: 4/28/2018

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Only this one window has a stained glass panel. It is easily seen when at the threshold of the front door at the top of the staircase…designed to impress visitors.

NRHP: The Schoolhouse Museum

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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For the past 8 years, the Northwest Bergen History Coalition has been holding a themed History Day. On History Day, several historic sites in the area are open, running tours and stamping passports. This year, the theme was ‘How Immigration & The Railroad Shaped Our Towns’ with 10 sites participating.

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This one-room schoolhouse, built by the Dutch Reformed Church for $4600, operated as a public school from 1872 until 1905.  It operated as School District No. 45.  When the towns incorporated in 1894, the schoolhouse became part of the Ridgewood school system.

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Towards the front of the museum, the historical society has maintained a display of the original desks and pot belly stove. During this school’s period, students attended school in the same room with the same teacher from 1st through 8th grade. The school year was short…only 60 days.

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When I visited, the rest of the building was being used for the “Thread of Life” exhibit, with costumes from the historical period on display. The exhibit runs through December 2018.

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I managed to tour five of the participating sites that day. To see my posts on the other NW Bergen County historic sites, click on the following links:

  1. The Old Stone House (Ramsey)
  2. The Schoolhouse Museum (Ridgewood)
  3. The Hermitage (Ho-ho-kus) Coming Soon
  4. The Zabriskie House (Wyckoff) Coming Soon
  5. The John Fell House (Allendale) Coming Soon

Location: 650 E. Glen Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 11/22/1974

Date of my visit: 4/28/2018

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Happy 50th to the Trails, Rivers, etc…

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Remember that classic TV show where the pregnant wife has gone into sudden labor and the husband gets pulled over for speeding  while trying to reach the hospital but then the quick-thinking police officer provides an escort with sirens blazing for the expectant couple? Perhaps cliche, but fifty years ago today, that scene played out for my parents and I narrowly avoided charging into this world on the city streets thanks to the NYPD.

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October of 1968 was also a fruitful month for our public lands. On October 2nd of that year, the National Trails System Act and the Wild and Scenic River Act were both signed into law.

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The Tomales Point Trail is a National Recreation Trail contained within the NPS Point Reyes Unit.

The National Trails System Act initially designated two national scenic trails, the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and made provisions to study 14 other trails for inclusion. The Act was later amended to include historic trails and rail trails. Today there are thousands of miles of national trails including 11 National Scenic Trails and 19 National Historic Trails. The trails are managed by five different government agencies and more information can be found on the Partnership for the National Trails System Website.

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The Rogue Wild and Scenic River in Oregon was one of the original 8 rivers named under the Act in 1968.

The National Wild and Scenic River Act initially designated eight rivers and today protects over 150 rivers. These are managed by four government agencies and more information can be found on the National Rivers Website. To see my previous post on the Middle Delaware click here (posts on the Rogue and Flathead National Rivers are coming soon.)

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The Smith Wild and Scenic River in California runs through parts of Redwood National Park.

Redwood National Park was also designated on October 2nd, 1968. To see my post on that park, click here.

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Other park sites (which I have yet to visit) and are turning 50 in October include:

  • Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Washington.
  • North Cascades National Park, Washington.
  • Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Washington.
  • Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, North Carolina.
  • Biscayne National Monument, Florida. (Re-designated Biscayne National Park in 1980)

Found this video clip I must have accidentally taken on my waterproof camera while kayaking down the Smith River:

 

 

Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Laboratory Complex

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves the home and laboratories of the prolific inventor. The mansion in Llewellyn Park and the laboratory in West Orange were two separate NPS sites in the 1950s. They were combined into one park, restored and re-opened in 2009.

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I arrived at the visitor center on Edison Day! The good thing about visiting on Edison Day was that there were rangers and docents in every room of the laboratory buildings giving tours or demonstrations. The not-so-good: no tours of the nearby mansion because all rangers were needed in the lab complex.

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Over one thousand inventions came out of Edison’s New Jersey laboratories, including the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, batteries and motion picture cameras. It was the invention of the stock market ticker that made Edison wealthy and provided him the means to open his laboratories. Science!

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Location: 211 Main St, West Orange, NJ 07052

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/30/2009

Date of my visit: 6/02/2018

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A movie camera in Edison’s library/office
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The machine shop on the 1st floor of the laboratory
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A mold created in the machine shop for phonograph records. This was put into use at the factories in the complex.
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Edison forever changed the world with the invention of the electric light bulb in his Menlo Park lab in 1879.
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Edison’s three-story library and office in the laboratory building
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Edison actually preferred working in this less fancy office/lab to his ornate library
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Batteries?
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The tape-recorder’s predecessor…this machine stored voice recordings on wax cylinders.
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A recording studio on the third floor.
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This is the chem lab in a smaller building next to the main lab building. A fire started in a lab like this in 1914 and burned down 13 factory buildings.
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The Black Maria is on the left of this photo. This building was designed for recording motion pictures.

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Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! Today is National Public Lands Day and this year’s theme is Resilience and Restoration. It is a fee-free day for most parks, so get out and find your park.

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The Middle Delaware is a National Park Service unit contained within another NPS unit, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Wild & Scenic Rivers System was established 50 years ago and protects nearly 13 thousand miles of US rivers. These protected areas are managed by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish & Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service.

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I began my exploration of the Middle Delaware at the Kittatinny Point Visitors Center, right off Route 80 in Columbia, NJ. There, I was able get some pins, look at a map and speak to a ranger about places to go in the park. There is a beach behind the visitors center with a great view of the Delaware Water Gap.

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A water gap is formed when water carves a path through a mountain range. In Earth’s ancient history, the North American and African continents collided, creating the Kittatinny Ridge. Streams flowing on one side of the ridge scoured a channel over the course of millions of years and became the Delaware River.

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I traveled upriver on Old Mine Road, a narrow road with scary potholes and numerous pull-outs for trailheads and river access. I stopped first at a small pull-out and walked a little way on a level trail that parallels the river. There are some big old trees here.

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Next I stopped at Turtle Beach, but didn’t get out because the lot was deserted except for one run down vehicle and I couldn’t see to the river or the road from there. Maybe next time. A little further north, I found Poxono.

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Poxono has a boat launch and used to be a Boy Scout camp. There were a few vehicles here, but most of the people were out fishing on the river. I got right down to the water’s edge and had some terrific, unobstructed views of the river.

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Location: 85 Mercer Rd, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: 40 miles of the Delaware river, Delaware Water Gap, PA to Milford, PA

Date designation declared: 11/10/1978

Date of my visit: 6/3/2018

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View downstream of Poxono
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Poxono, an island in the middle of the Delaware River.

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