Sea Girt Lighthouse

IMG_3385

Welcome back to National Parks 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.

20181020_200925

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.

IMG_3379

My last stop of the day was the Sea Girt Light. The 40-mile stretch of coast between Barnegat and Navesink was unlit in the 1800s and so Sea Girt was commissioned by the Lighthouse Board in 1888. Completed in 1896, it was the last lighthouse with an integrated keeper’s residence to be built on the East Coast.

IMG_3374

In 1921, Sea Girt became the first lighthouse to be equipped with a radio beacon, furthering its usefulness as a navigational aid.

20181020_171332

The light was deactivated during World War II and became a dormitory for the Coast Guard.

IMG_3375

After the war, the federal government put the lighthouse up for sale. The Borough of Sea Girt purchased the property and used it for the town library and recreation center.

IMG_3387

In 1981, the building was in need of repairs and the borough considered selling it. Concerned residents formed the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, an independent non-profit dedicated to restoring and maintaining the lighthouse.

IMG_3380

The committee restored the lighthouse through private fundraising. They lease it from the town and conduct tours on Sundays from Easter through Thanksgiving and open the lighthouse for special events like the annual Lighthouse Challenge.

IMG_3382

Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:

IMG_3377

Location: 9 Ocean Ave, Sea Girt, NJ 08750

Designation: Museum

Date designated or established: 1981

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018

IMG_3390

Ramapo Mountain State Forest

IMG_3663

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.

IMG_3671

Ramapo Mountain State Forest protects 4,269 acres in the mountainous region of Northern New Jersey. It is in both Passaic and Bergen Counties and is a separate park from the adjacent Ramapo Reservation.

IMG_3651

There is a well-marked network of trails here. Lily and I set out to explore the easier blue (MacEvoy, named for the man who originally purchased this land to form a hunting club) trail to Ramapo Lake. There are also ruins of a ‘castle’ up a much more difficult trail and other sights to see in the park, but our time was limited as we arrived only an hour or so before sunset.

IMG_3618

We parked in the lower lot on Skyline Drive, just off Route 287.  MacEvoy Trail begins at the end of this lot, just past the stone wall ruins. This is a popular trail and we saw several other hikers with dogs.

IMG_3639

The path then leads up a rocky slope, alongside a stream that flows from Ramapo Lake. There are a few scrambles over boulders here and there.

IMG_3655

We’d had a lot of rain, so the water was really ripping, with small waterfalls everywhere. (Scroll down for a video clip)

IMG_3630

We’d only gotten about a half mile up when we came to what is described in trail guides as a ‘short rock hop’ across the stream. With the higher water volume, it was no hop, especially for a small cockapoo ( or a person trying to balance a cockapoo and camera while fording a raging river.)

IMG_3653

Just ahead of us, a much larger Weimeraner was spooked and refused to cross the stream. So we turned back, content with the lovely, but short, walk through the woods.

IMG_3661

Location: Skyline Drive, Wanaque, NJ 07465

Designation: NJ State Forest

Date designated or established: 1976

Date of my visit: 12/30/2018

IMG_3647

Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens – NRHP

apsIMG_5061

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.

apsIMG_5021

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is an Essex County Park in New Jersey maintained by the nonprofit Citizens Committee. The gardens were established in 1927 in honor of Frank Presby. Presby was a horticulturalist who helped found the American Iris Society in 1920.

IMG_5039

Presby Memorial is the largest non-commercial garden dedicated to irises in the world,  with approximately 10,000 individual plants. It has over 3,000 different varieties.  Some of its vintage rhizomes were stolen in 2008, but were later recovered.

IMG_5011

The Victorian house on the grounds is the Walther House and is the headquarters for the Citizens Committee and also houses a museum store. Barbara Walther lived there and was the garden’s curator for over 50 years. In 1977, she passed away and the Citizens Committee was formed to maintain the collection.

apsIMG_5049

The Citizens Committee had financial troubles in 2008 so Essex County purchased the Walther House and property and designated it a County Park. The County maintains the structure and leases the land back to the non-profit organization which continues to oversee the gardens, completely through private donations and volunteerism.

apsIMG_5054

Presby has over 10,000 visitors, mostly during the blooming season each year, from Mid May to early June. The gates open pretty early…I got there as soon as it opened and had no trouble finding parking or taking photos without mobs of people.

apsIMG_5045

To see my other Essex County Park posts click Branch Brook Park.

Location: 474 Upper Mountain Ave, Montclair, NJ 07043

Designation: National Register of Historic Places, County Park

Date designation declared: September 17, 1980

Date of my visit: 5/28/2016

apsIMG_5035b

Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal

IMG_4761

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.

IMG_3644

The Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Jersey City was one of five passenger railroad terminals on the Hudson Waterfront during the 1800s to 1900s. Hoboken is the only one of the five still in use today.  The Jersey City, or Communipaw, terminal was built in 1889 and operated through 1967.

IMG_6577

Along with nearby Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the terminal was part of the immigration era. Over ten million immigrants entered the country through this station.

IMG_3615

The terminal is on the National Register of Historic Places and was incorporated into Liberty State Park. It was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and reopened in 2016.

IMG_6581

Today the terminal is a museum and is also where you can get tickets for the ferry to Ellis and Liberty Islands.

IMG_6583

Location: 1 Audrey Zapp Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Designation: State Park, NRHP

Date designation declared: 9/12/1975 NRHP

Date of my visit: 2014, 2016, 2018

IMG_6530

IMG_0889
Dawn on a cold March day in 2018

Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District

IMG_4195

Welcome back to National Parks and 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.

IMG_2784

Ringwood Manor and its surrounding 479 acres became a national historic landmark district in 1966. Ringwood State Park is comprised of the Ringwood Manor district and the nearby Skylands Manor. The NJ Parks department manages the site and provides regular tours of the mansion. Photography is not allowed inside the house, except during the Victorian Christmas Open House.

IMG_2786

The surrounding Ramapo mountains are rich in iron deposits. Iron mines and forges made this an area of strategic importance during the Revolutionary War and again during the war of 1812.

IMG_2794

Ironmaster Martin Ryerson built the first 10-room section of Ringwood Manor in 1807.  The State Park has maintained some of this original section with the simple Washingtonian decor that the Ryersons favored.

IMG_2787

The Cooper-Hewitts bought Ringwood Manor as a summer home in 1853. Peter Cooper invented glue, gelatin and the Tom Thumb locomotive. Together with his son-in-law A.S. Hewitt (a one-term NYC mayor) he founded one of the largest iron companies in the USA.  A.S. Hewitt married Peter Cooper’s daughter Sarah.

IMG_4186

Sarah Hewitt built several additions onto the house over the years.

20181208_112023

Ringwood Manor has 51 rooms, 30 of which are open to the public via a ranger-guided tour.

IMG_2797

Mrs. Hewitt favored lavish French Louis XV design. She allowed her husband to decorate only three of the rooms in a more masculine style.

20181208_112429

She was an avid collector of marquetry, china, etc… Her collections are showcased throughout the manor.

IMG_2789

The grounds were patterned after European gardens the Hewitts had seen on their travels. They also incorporated into the landscape salvaged items, like Columbia University’s iron gates and the Cooper Union Institute’s marble columns.

IMG_2791

There is a large iron chain in front of the house which Mr. Hewitt thought was the chain that was stretched across the Hudson River at West Point during the Revolutionary War to keep the British navy out.

20181208_115440

He later found out that he’d been scammed, that the chain was not authentic, but Mrs. Hewitt perpetuated the rumor that it was THE chain, so there it still sits. There is also a cannon from the USS constitution in front of the house along with other iron antiques.

IMG_4196

The Hewitts had six children. The two younger daughters stayed on at Ringwood and ran the iron mines after their parents’ deaths.

20181208_111549

The youngest son, Erskine, was the last surviving heir and donated the estate to the State of New Jersey in 1936.

IMG_2798

Ringwood State Park posts:
  • Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District
  • Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District
  • Victorian Christmas at Ringwood Manor (Coming Soon)
  • Skylands Botanical Gardens (Coming Soon)

Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Designation: National Historic Landmark District, State Park

Date designated or established: November 13, 1966

Date of my visit: 12/8/2018, 8/26/2018, 3/5/2016

IMG_4285

IMG_4314
There is a trail behind the mansion that leads past some colonial era graves to this dam

The Celery Farm Preserve

DSC03594

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.

IMG_5192

The Celery Farm is a 107-acre wetland preserve in Allendale, New Jersey. The park was once a celery farm and was part of the John Fell estate, dating back to the Revolutionary War era. You can see my post about the John Fell House, which is across the street from the preserve, by clicking here.

IMG_5232

In the 1950s, a non-profit organization called Fyke formed with the mission of saving some of Bergen County’s last undeveloped tracts of land. Today, this group maintains the trails and viewing platforms in the Celery Farm.

DSC03573

The preserve is an important habitat for birds…over 240 species have been seen here and it is a breeding site for over 50 bird species. I’ve also seen turtles, deer and was even surprised by a mink carrying a fish it had just captured (alas, I was in the middle of changing lenses!)

IMG_5168

The main trail is an easy level loop around a large lake. At one end, you can branch off  into other trails over streams and through marshy meadows.

IMG_5206

In some sections, you will find yourself passing by residential homes and the entrance to the preserve is right off the busy Franklin Turnpike. In spite of being in the midst of a densely populated area, most of the preserve is serene and quiet.

DSC03559

Location: Franklin Turnpike, Allendale, NJ 07401

Designation: Preserve and Bird Sanctuary

Date designated or established: 1952

Date of my visit: 2013, 2014

DSC03579

Twin Lights State Historic Site

IMG_3090

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.

IMG_3081

After attending the grand re-opening ceremony at the Sandy Hook Lighthouse (see that post here,) I stopped at the Twin Lights State Historic Site on my way back to the mainland.

IMG_3080

At 200 feet above sea level on a steep bluff, the Twin Lights of Highlands have watched over the harbor entrance since 1828.

IMG_3071

Officially named Navesink Lightstation, it was the first in the USA to use Fresnel lenses. The Fresnel lens, through its beehive design, magnifies the light from a small bulb so that it can be seen for miles. The Navesink lights had a range of 22 miles.

IMG_3091

In 1862, the lighthouse was rebuilt, replacing the original structures and is still standing today. Two different shaped light towers are linked by the keepers quarters in the middle. One beacon was steady while the other pulsed, providing a distinctive navigational aid.

IMG_3092

In 1899, Guglielmo Marconi  demonstrated his wireless telegraph from the light station by transmitting reports on the America’s Cup Race off Sandy Hook. The Twin Lights became the nation’s first commercial wireless telegraph station.

IMG_3078

Technological advances reduced the need for lighthouses and in 1949, the Twin Lights were turned off after 121 years in operation. The State of New Jersey acquired the property and designated it a State Historic Site in 1962.

IMG_3076

I browsed the exhibits in the museum housed in the keeper’s quarters and then climbed the North Tower for some pretty fantastic views. Visitors are allowed out on the caged-in balcony.

IMG_3069

Location: 2 Lighthouse Road, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: State Historic Site, NRHP

Date designated or established: 1962

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

IMG_3085