History of the Navesink Lightstation
“ …for to the Northward off us we saw high hills. This is a very good land to fall with, and a pleasant land to see” —Robert Juet, explorer, 1609

Situated 200 feet above sea level atop the Navesink Highlands, Twin Lights has stood as a sentinel over the treacherous coastal waters of northern New Jersey since 1828. Named Navesink Lightstation, it became known as the “Twin Lights of Highlands” to those who used its mighty beacons to navigate. As the primary seacoast light for New York Harbor, it was the best and brightest light on the Atlantic Coast for generations of seafarers. Many a life and cargo were saved by the sweep of its beacons.

The current lighthouse, built in 1862 of local brownstone, cost $74,000, and replaced the earlier buildings that had fallen into disrepair. Architect Joseph Lederle designed the new structure with two non-identical towers linked by keepers' quarters and storage rooms. This unique design made it easy to distinguish Twin Lights from other nearby lighthouses. At night, the two beacons, one flashing and the other fixed, provided another distinguishing characteristic.

With the development of automated lights, offshore light towers, radar, and other sophisticated navigational equipment in the 20th century, manned lighthouses gradually became obsolete. While there are still working lighthouses in the United States, many have been decommissioned—a fate that befell Twin Lights in 1949. After 121 years of service, the most powerful coastal light in America was extinguished.

The State of New Jersey acquired Twin Lights from the Borough of Highlands in 1962, and opened it as a museum. Today, visitors can tour the lighthouse, climb the North Tower for a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean, visit the exhibit gallery, and see the 9 foot bivalve lens on display in the generator building. Twin Lights no longer guides ships into New York Harbor, but it stands as a formidable reminder of the important role lighthouses played in the maritime history of this country. Twin Lights is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.


 

 

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