Twin Lights Lighthouse, Highlands, NJ – 1995
The Highlands of Navesink, NJ, rising more than 200 feet above sea level, were a natural location for the erection of an aid to navigation. The Highlands had been used for signaling purposes as early as 1746 and in 1862, the federal government built the structure to replace earlier lights. Originally named the "Navesink Lightstation" and commonly known as the "Twin Lights of Highlands", it was the primary aid to navigation for mariners entering and leaving New York Harbor.
Made from local brownstone, storage galleries and keepers' quarters connected the two dissimilar light towers (the south tower is square and the north tower is hexagonal.) The south tower light was steady and the north tower light flashed; this plus the unique architecture made it easy for mariners to distinguish "Twin Lights" from other nearby lighthouses.
The station became a showcase for testing new navigational technology before deployment at other lightstations. In 1893, "Twin Lights" became the initial first–order light fueled by mineral oil (kerosene). (Before this, sperm whale oil, lard and certain vegetable oils fueled the multiple lamp wicks used in large coastal lighthouses.) In 1898, with the installation of a 9-foot diameter Fresnel lens in the south tower, "Twin Lights" was the first lighthouse to use an electric arc for illumination. At that time, the south tower became the most powerful lighthouse in the country, producing a light of 25,000,000 candlepower that mariners could easily see from more than 22 miles at sea. The US Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse in 1949, when more sophisticated aids to navigation, including automated lights, offshore towers, radar and LORAN made "Twin Lights" unnecessary.
Now owned by the State of New Jersey, you can tour the lighthouse, climb the north tower, and visit an exhibit gallery and gift shop. Admission is free and it is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours and learn of the important role lighthouses played in the maritime history of this area.