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October 30, 2006


Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795



(06/62) HIGHLANDS - Recognizing its significant role in commerce and navigation for more than 120 years, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced the designation of the Twin Lights of Navesink Light Station in Highlands, Monmouth County, as a National Historic Landmark.

"Twin Lights stands today as a reminder of the important role lighthouses played in the maritime history of this country," Commissioner Jackson said. "Sites like this inspire us to protect and preserve our precious historic resources. A ballot question in next week's general election provides us with an opportunity to help protect all of our state historic sites, parks and wildlife areas."

On Nov. 7, New Jersey voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would provide a dedicated source of funding - $15 million a year until 2015 and $32 million annually beginning in 2016 - for maintenance and capital improvements at state parks, historic sites and wildlife areas.

Without requiring any new taxes, Ballot Question 2 would allow revenues already generated through the Corporate Business Tax Fund to be used for maintenance and capital improvement projects. If voters reject the proposal, these needed projects will receive minimal or no state funding.

Fewer than 2,500 sites bear the National Historic Landmark designation, which recognizes places that "possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.'' As a National Historic Landmark, the light station joins the ranks of places such as Mount Vernon, Sandy Hook Lighthouse and the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

Six new wayside exhibits funded by a federal Recreation Trails grant also were unveiled today. The exhibits provide information about the lighthouse, Marconi's wireless, the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and the powerhouse used in the production of electricity for the powerful beacon.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior designates National Historic Landmarks only after careful study by the National Park Service, extensive public involvement and review, and recommendation by the National Park System Advisory Board.

The first lighthouse began operations in 1828 as Navesink Lightstation. The current brownstone towers, situated atop the Navesink Highlands, 200 feet above sea level, were constructed in 1862. They guided vessels to the United States' busiest port - New York Harbor - until they were shut down in 1949 as manned lighthouses became obsolete.

Architect Joseph Lederle designed the new structure with two non-identical towers linked by the keepers' quarters and storage rooms. The dissimilar towers made it easy for seafarers to distinguish Twin Lights from other lighthouses during the day. At night, the beacons, one flashing and one fixed, provided another distinguishing navigational aid.

The light station has the distinction of being the first in the United States to test several important lighthouse technologies, including the revolutionary Fresnel lens, the use of mineral oil for lamps, and an electric-arc bivalve lens that was nine feet in diameter.

In 1899, Guglielmo Marconi used the light station for the first demonstration of the wireless telegraph and it became the nation's first wireless station capable of transmitting and receiving messages on a regular commercial basis.

Radar and other electronic technologies developed at nearby Fort Monmouth and used to fight World War II were tested at the light station.

The State of New Jersey acquired Twin Lights from the Borough of Highlands in 1962, and opened it as a historic site that year. Today, visitors can tour the lighthouse, climb the North Tower for breathtaking views, visit the exhibit gallery, and learn about bivalve lens on display in the generator building. The lighthouse North Tower, museum, gift shop, and other buildings are open daily 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day, and Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. the remainder of the year. The grounds are open 9 a.m. until sunset. The area is closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Twin Lights Station is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

To learn more about Ballot Question #2, visit




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Last Updated: October 30, 2006