Sandy Hook, 1764
Hook, New Jersey
Sandy Hook Lighthouse that stands today is the oldest standing
lighthouse tower in the United States. The tower was built by Isaac Contro in 1764 and was first lit on June 11. It is 105 feet tall with a base diameter of 29 feet and a diameter of 15 feet at the top. The lighthouse is built of brick on a masonry foundation. The walls are 7 feet thick at the base and become thinner as you go up the tower. The money to build the lighthouse was raised by a lottery in 1761 and then again in 1763. In order to pay for its upkeep and expenses a light-duty of three-pence per ton was imposed on shipping using the channel into New York Harbor.
The lighthouse is just south of the entrance to New York City and the Hudson River and is located at the tip of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. It is surrounded by Fort Hancock and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
Sandy Hook was built about 500 feet from the tip of the hook. However, unlike most lighthouses that become threatened by the encroaching shoreline, there is a northern expansion of the Sandy Hook so that today the lighthouse stands about 1˝ miles from the point.
There have been three documented keeper’s houses on the property.
The light has only been darkened twice in its history. The first was during the American Revolution and the second time was during
World War II.
In 1889 the Sandy Hook lighthouse became the first lighthouse in the country to be lit by electric incandescent lamps. It was automated in 1962. The lighthouse is still in active operation and is equipped with a 3rd-order Fresnel lens illuminated by a 1000 watt bulb, and emitting 45,000 candle-power. It is visible 19 miles at sea.
The beacon was automated in 1962, and the station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1964. Other than a few coats of paint here and there, the only major restoration of the structure was performed way back in 1863.
In 1996, the ownership of the lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to the National Park Service.
though my husband & I have not personally visited this lighthouse, our daughter, Angela, purchased
the Lefton Collectible version of this lighthouse for us for Christmas several years ago.
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