DEP UNVEILS NEW EXHIBITS AT BARNEGAT LIGHTHOUSE STATE
Illuminating the story of one of New Jersey's best known
landmarks, the Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) today unveiled a brand new exhibition featuring
the Barnegat Lighthouse at the recently renovated Interpretive
Center at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park.
"The Barnegat Lighthouse shines its beacon on New
Jersey's maritime history," said DEP Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell. "The new exhibits will showcase
the significance of the lighthouse for more than 100,000
visitors each year. This landmark is one of the many treasures
that make the coast a premier destination."
The new exhibition chronicles the rich history of the
Barnegat Lighthouse and its continuous struggle with the
encroaching sea. The exhibit also explores lighthouse technology
and the relationship between the people, the lighthouse
and the natural resources of the Barnegat Bay.
Once used as a shower facility for visitors, the building
was adaptively renovated when the changing shoreline no
longer accommodated swimming at the park. The building
has undergone a complete transformation from a shower facility
to a bright, attractive Interpretive Center - complete
with exhibits and classroom space for educational programs
for the public.
The renovation of the Interpretive Center was accomplished
largely through the cooperative efforts of the DEP's Division
of Parks and Forestry project managers, superintendents,
maintenance and interpretive personnel.
Last summer the DEP completed a $500,000 restoration of
the Barnegat Lighthouse that included the repainting of
the historic tower and other minor restorations.
Future plans for the exhibit space include a scale model
of the lighthouse keepers' quarters, and a working model
of Barnegat Lighthouse's Fresnel lens.
The site of Barnegat Lighthouse on the northern tip of
Long Beach Island in Ocean County was regarded as one of
the most crucial "change of course" points for
coastal vessels. Vessels bound to and from New York along
the New Jersey coastline depended on Barnegat Lighthouse
to avoid the shoals extending from the shoreline. The swift
currents, shifting sandbars and offshore shoals challenged
the skills of even the most experienced sailor.
In 1927, Barnegat Lighthouse and surrounding land were
transferred to the State of New Jersey and the lighthouse
was decommissioned. The U.S. Lighthouse Service reserved
the right to maintain a light for navigation. During World
War II, the lighthouse was used as a lookout tower for
enemy ships by the U.S. Coast Guard. In January 1944, it
was taken out of service. The site was returned to New
Jersey in 1946 and five years later it was designated a
In addition to the lighthouse, the panoramic views and
public recreational access along the inlet, Barnegat Lighthouse
State Park contains one of the last remnants of maritime
forest in New Jersey. The forest, which is dominated by
black cherry, eastern red cedar and American holly, is
an important resting and feeding area for migratory birds
on their long journey to and from their breeding sites.
A short self-guided trail leads visitors through the forest.
The Interpretive Center and exhibits will be open on weekends
through the end of October, and will reopen again in the
spring. Daily visiting hours at the lighthouse are Memorial
Day through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The spring
and fall hours for the lighthouse are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.