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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NRHP: Cameron Suspension Bridge

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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.

The Cameron Suspension Bridge was built over the Little Colorado River in 1911 to provide better access to the Navajo Nation and Hopi Indian Reservation. The bridge originally carried highway 89, nearly collapsed under the weight of too many sheep in 1937 and was replaced by a more modern bridge in 1959.

 

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Five years after the suspension bridge was erected, the Richardson Brothers established the Cameron Trading post where the Navajo and Hopi came to barter for dry goods. As the town grew up around the bridge and trading post, it became a hotel for the area’s tourists.

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Today, it is a Southwestern version of the Cracker Barrel, with a restaurant and large gift shop and an adjoining motel. We stopped there on our way to the Grand Canyon to use the restroom. We perused the native crafts available in the gift shop, walked through the motel’s courtyard garden and took some photos of the historic bridge and canyon from the back of their property.

Location: US Highway 8954 Miles North of FlagstaffCameron, AZ 86020

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 6/5/1986

Date of my visit: 8/19/2014

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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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NRHP: Old Stone House

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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.

For the past 8 years, the Northwest Bergen History Coalition  in Bergen County, NJ 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 Old Stone House  in Ramsey dates back to the early 1700s. It is actually the Westervelt–Ackerson House, but the highway directional sign as well as the NHRP sign out front refer to it as the Old Stone House. It is a Dutch Colonial farmhouse built from rustic materials including straw and hogs hair.

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The Westervelts purchased the land from the Lenape Nation for 50 ounces of silver. After the family moved from the farmhouse, it became a stagecoach stop and then a tavern. It is rumored that Aaron Burr stopped at the tavern for the night before he continued on to the Hermitage to marry Theodosia Prevost.

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Today, the Old Stone House is awkwardly situated inside a clover leaf exchange off Route 17. Originally, the State of NJ had purchased the property with the intent to demolish it to build an overpass. But local community groups intervened, saved the home from destruction and now manage it as a museum.

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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) – Coming Soon
  3. The Hermitage (Ho-ho-kus) – Coming Soon
  4. The Zabriskie House (Wyckoff) – Coming Soon
  5. The John Fell House (Allendale) – Coming Soon

Location: 2538 Island Road, Ramsey, NJ 07446

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 7/20/1977

Date of my visit: 4/28/2018

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The docent showing me around the house said this large cabinet probably came with the family when they immigrated from Holland and so could date back to the 1600s.

 

Glacier National Park: Rising Sun

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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 50 mile Going to the Sun Road first opened to traffic in Glacier National Park in 1933 and remains a key attraction in the park today. Prior to its opening, visitors came by train and stayed in the lodges built by the Great Northern Railway to capitalize on park tourism. To accommodate the new auto-touring crowd, the company built the East Glacier Auto Camp in 1941. It was later re-named Rising Sun.

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During our stay in Glacier National Park, we explored Going to the Sun several times, stopping frequently to see the sights along the way. On our first trip down Going to the Sun Road, we began at the East entrance in St. Mary (scroll down to the end for the video clip.) We parked in the Rising Sun lot.

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The exhibit in front of the motel describes Rising Sun as the place “where the mountains meet the prairie.” In addition to the motel, there are log cabins, a campground and a general store. Rose Creek flows through the complex to St. Mary Lake, with the mountain-prairie convergence allowing diverse wildlife to thrive here.

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After exploring the area, we boarded the Red Bus for the Eastern Alpine tour. This tour travels Going to the Sun Road from St. Mary to Logan Pass. This fleet of White Motor Company buses have been  touring Going to the Sun Road since the 1930s, with restoration and mechanical updates donated by Ford.

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Our driver and guide, Laura, is a school bus driver during the school year and it’s apparent she enjoys her summer job as a Red Bus ‘Jammer.’ When she pulled up at Rising Sun to pick us up, she hopped out and rolled back the canvas top so that we could ‘Prairie Dog’ at stops where we couldn’t get out. And off we went for our morning’s adventure!

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When we returned to Rising Sun around Noon, we stopped in for lunch at Two Dog Flats Grill. I didn’t have high hopes for a park eatery in a motor lodge, but our meal was surprisingly good. It is a simple, standard American menu with a few twists, and the food is well-prepared.

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We had the huckleberry pulled pork, fruit salad, build-your-own burgers and the best fries we had the entire trip.

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

  • Rising Sun
  • Wild Goose Island and Jackson Glacier Overlook (Coming Soon)
  • Logan Pass (Coming Soon)
  • Going To The Sun Road (Coming Soon)
  • St. Mary Lake (Coming Soon)
  • St. Mary Falls (Coming Soon)

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

Designation: National Park, NRHP

Date designation declared: 5/11/1910, Lodge added to NRHP in 1996

Date of my visit: 6/24/2018

 

NRHP: Portland Head 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.

Portland Head Light, aka the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse was built at the direction of George Washington and completed in 1791. It is the oldest lighthouse in present-day Maine, though Maine was still a part of Massachusetts at the time of construction. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1973.

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Today the lighthouse is automated and is operated by the Coast Guard, while the keeper’s house and surrounding Fort Williams Park are maintained and preserved by the town of Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland.

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We parked by the Ship Cove beach area and walked the Cliff Trail towards the lighthouse.

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There are places along this trail where you can clamber down rough paths and walk out onto rocks for a ‘better’ view of the light (trust me, there are no bad views.) This doesn’t seem especially safe…the ocean can be unpredictable and wash you right out to sea if you’re not careful.

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That is my husband, risking the rocks, to take a picture of me taking a picture of him…because that’s how we roll…

We noticed another lighthouse out in Casco Bay. This is the Ram Island Ledge Light. It looks like a ruin, but it is solar-powered and apparently still works.

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We arrived at the light and toured the museum inside the Keeper’s House. You cannot go up in the tower.

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On the other side of the lighthouse, some rocks are painted as a memorial to the shipwreck of the Annie McGuire in 1886. The light keeper rescued the crew, providing them with the means to climb to shore. No one knows why the ship crashed into the rocks as the signal was quite visible.

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We then walked a path through the park, past some ruins of the fort batteries and back to the beach where we dipped our feet in the icy water and took a few photos of Battery Keyes, built as part of Fort Williams in 1906. The fort remained in use until 1962.

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You can see my other Portland posts by clicking: Portland Observatory Tower

Location: 12 Captain Strout Cir, Cape Elizabeth, ME 

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 4/24/1973

Date of my visit: 8/17/2015

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NRHP: Branch Brook Park

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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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Branch Brook Park is a county park in Essex County, New Jersey and protects the largest and most diverse collection of blossoming cherry trees in the world. It began in 1896 as the first county park open to the public in the US. In 1927 with a donation from the Bamberger (department store magnate) family, the cherry trees were planted. The expanded park was popular during the Great Depression. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

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The groves grew to around 2000 trees, but by 2005, the original trees were dying out.  Through public support and the Branch Brook Alliance, the park was saved and restored. Today there are close to 5000 trees blossoming in the Spring.

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Having seen beautiful photos of this place on social media for the past few years, I decided to head over there on the first sunny April weekend. I was a little apprehensive about going there alone and at the crack of dawn. The park is within the city limits of Newark and there are some rough neighborhoods there.

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So I decided to begin at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center which is on the outskirts of town. The welcome center has some displays inside and tours are offered from here seasonally (there is also a self-guided mobile phone tour which I did dial in to a few times.) When I arrived, there were a few other people wandering around with cameras, so it seemed safe enough. I took a few pictures here and then drove to the other end of the park via the park road.

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Branch Brook Lake is at the Southern end of the park with the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on its East side.  The blooms were just starting here. We’ve had a very cold Spring. In fact, it was only 34 degrees while I was snapping these photos.

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On the west side are the Prudential Lions. These are replicas of the original limestone sculptures, crafted by Karl Ritter at the turn of the 20th century. The originals were restored by the former CEO of Prudential (whose wife was president of the Branch Brook Alliance) and moved to the Essex municipal building for their protection.

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There is also an interesting sculpture, awarded to a Newark choral group for winning a competition in 1909.

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Location: Lake Street & Park Avenue, Newark, NJ 07104

Designation: County Park, National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 1/12/1981

Date of my visit: 4/21/2018

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Cute children’s playground by the Welcome Center
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Two signs of Spring in one frame and it was only 34 degrees Fahrenheit!

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Concerts take place here in the Summer
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It was difficult to photograph the Cathedral as the sun was rising behind it

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