Barnegat Lighthouse or Barnegat Light, colloquially known as “Old Barney”, is a historic lighthouse located in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, in the borough of Barnegat Light, New Jersey, on the south side of Barnegat Inlet.
The development of the original lighthouse began in June 1834 with the appropriation of $6,000 from Congress. Because of the strong currents in the inlet, the lighthouse was built 900 feet (270 m) away from the water; but within ten years only 450 feet (140 m) separated the tower from the water.
In 1855, Lt. George G. Meade, an Army engineer and later a Union General in the American Civil War, was assigned to design a new lighthouse. Because of continuing erosion during its construction, the new lighthouse was located about 100 feet (30 m) south of the original structure, the site of which is now submerged. Because of the rough waters of the area, several jetties have been built throughout the history of both lighthouses.
Barnegat Light was commissioned on January 1, 1859. The tower light was 165 feet (50 m) above sea level and the lighthouse itself was four times taller than the original. The new light was a first-order flashing Fresnel lens, which stood about 12 feet (4 m) tall. The total cost of the project was about $40,000, with the lens alone costing $15,000. The current lighthouse is really two towers in one: the exterior conical tower covers a cylindrical tower on the inside.
The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Barnegat Lighthouse in 1971.
In 2008, the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, a local civic organization, raised funds to reactivate the lighthouse. A sum of $35,000 was raised, with $20,000 contributed by the Barnegat Light Borough Fraternal Order of Police Local Lodge No. 5. This supported the acquisition of a new $15,000 VRB-25 light system, as well as the replacement of aging windows. Funding was raised entirely at the local level.
In October 2008, the VRB-25 system was installed. While physically smaller than the original light, the system has become a standard for US Lighthouses, with more than 100 installed.
On January 1, 2009, at 5:00 pm, the 150th anniversary of its opening, Barnegat Lighthouse activated its beacon for the first time since 1944.
The light now operates daily from dusk until dawn. There is a foghorn on Barnegat South Breakwater Light 7, at the ocean end of the south breakwater, which guards the inlet. The tower is flood-lit at night.
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