Lighthouse History


Marker is located off of Pacific Avenue near the reconstructed Keeper's Dwelling at Absecon Lighthouse

Marker text:
The ocean waters off Absecon Inlet were considered some of the most deadly along the East Coast. Between 1847 and 1856, at least sixty-four ocean-going ships were lost off the coast of Absecon Beach. Dr. Jonathan Pitney, who promoted the development of Atlantic City, lobbied the federal government for a lighthouse as early as the 1830's. In the first ten months after Absecon Lighthouse was lit in 1857, not a single ship was wrecked. When built, the Lighthouse stood about 1200 feet from the ocean. Sand, seagulls, the smell of salt water and the flow of tides marked the days. The relentless pounding of the waves quickly eroded the coastline surrounding the beacon, bringing water onto the corner of the Lighthouse property by 1876. The construction of jetties reversed this process, and subsequent homes and hotels separated the Lighthouse from the sea, resulting in the landscape you see today.

The Lighthouse was also Atlantic City's beacon for tourists. Visitors flocked to the Lighthouse, making keepers as much tour guides as light tenders. Images of the Lighthouse graced postcards, plates, glasses and other souvenirs made for the seashore tourist trade.

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Absecon Lighthouse Facts

Constructed: 1855-1857
First lit: January 15, 1857
Decommissioned and light extinguished: July 11, 1933
Re-Lit: October 3, 1999
Tower height: 171 feet
Focal plane: 167 feet
Physical location: Latitude: 39° 21" 56" North
Longitude: 74° 24" 53" West
Type of construction: Double-walled conical brick and mortar tower with cast-iron spiral central staircase
Foundation materials: Stone foundation with a timber platform
Tower diameter: 27' at the bottom – tapers to 14'9" at the watch level
Number of steps: 228 to the watch level (12 more to the lantern room – for a total of 240 steps)
Daymark: Yellow with a black band
Original lighting: First-order Fresnel lens with Funck's mineral oil lamps
Present lighting: Original first-order Fresnel lens and electric lamp
Characteristic: Fixed beacon
Beacon range: 19.5 nautical miles
Original ancillary structures: Assistant Keepers' Dwelling, oil storage house, and various outbuildings
Current ancillary structures: Oil storage house
Owned by: The State of New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry
Administered by: Inlet Public/Private Association (IPPA)

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