Tuckerton Seaport

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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.

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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.

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After visiting the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, I headed over to the Tucker’s Island Light in Tuckerton Seaport. Tuckerton Seaport is a working maritime village with some historic and some recreated buildings around a mile-long boardwalk on Tuckerton Creek.

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The lighthouse is one of the recreated buildings because the original fell into the ocean in 1927 as the island on which it sat eroded away. Tucker’s Island was completely gone by 1952.

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The reproduction in Tuckerton Seaport is modeled after the 1868 lighthouse on Tucker’s Island. Tucker’s Island was originally a part of Long Beach Island but the ocean cut an inlet through it in the 1800s, creating a separate small ocean resort island with hotels, homes, a coast guard station and a lighthouse.  All of this washed away in the early 1900s as the island was reclaimed by the sea.

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The reconstruction was made possible in part through funds from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. There is a museum on the second floor with exhibits on New Jersey maritime heritage.

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From the museum floor, it’s a 42-step climb to the tower (a piece of cake after the 228-steps I’d just climbed at Absecon Light.) You can walk around the balcony outside and take in the view of the seaport on one side and Lake Pohatcong on the other. It’s six miles from where the original light sat, so you can’t see the ocean.

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There is much to see and do in the seaport, but I had to move on to the next stop in the Lighthouse Challenge, so I will save that for another trip.

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Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:

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

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Location: 120 West Main Street, Tuckerton, New Jersey 08087

Designation: Maritime Museum Village

Date designated or established: May 2000

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018

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Ramapo Valley County Reservation

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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 my 100th post on the blog, I thought I’d highlight a park that we visit frequently. Ramapo Valley Reservation is a County Park in Bergen County, New Jersey. It was designated a wilderness area in 1972 with about 700 acres and has since grown to encompass over 4000 acres.

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It is a dog-friendly park with a few wide, flat trails and some more challenging ones up to scenic vistas.

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On our most recent visit, we brought the dogs, so we stayed on the easy trails.

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We crossed the bridge over the Ramapo River to the loop trail that goes around Scarlet Oak Pond.

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Scrarlet Oak Pond was once a quarry. We’ve seen a pair of swans there in the past, but it must have been too late in the season this time.

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Fall foliage was at its peak. We stopped frequently at the water’s edge to snap photos. The dogs were impatient to continue our walk.

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When we reached the the section in the loop where we could continue uphill to the reservoir, we noticed a sign pointing to the waterfall that we hadn’t seen before. On previous trips, if we wanted to visit the falls, we had to walk partway up to the reservoir and the clamber down a rock scramble (not such an easy thing when you’re toting a cockapoo.)

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This new path was nicely groomed, well-marked and led us over the stream and up stone steps to the falls. I searched online and found that this section was built in the summer of 2017 by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

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Location: 608 Ramapo Valley Rd, Mahwah, NJ 07430

Designation: County Park

Date designated or established: 1972

Date of my visit: 10/31/2018

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Husband: ‘Let me capture the glorious fall colors on my iphone’        Dog: ‘Squirrel!’

 

 

Absecon Lighthouse State Historic Site

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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

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Paterson Great Falls Native Heritage Celebration

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock

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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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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.

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

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

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

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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 designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

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The fort, together with the proving ground, became a National Historic Landmark District in 1982
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A revolutionary war era musket ball, discovered during a recent archaeological dig conducted by Monmouth University
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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.
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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.

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