Beachcomber Fall Guide: New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge Set for Oct. 20-21

Eleven Sites Open Special Hours on Weekend

Quick, who designed Old Barney?

Here’s a hint – it was the same man who won the Battle of Gettysburg.

What? Ulysses S. Grant built the Barnegat Lighthouse?

No. And, contrary to many folks’ belief, Grant didn’t defeat Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. In the opening days of July 1863, Grant was hundreds of miles away, occupied with another battle, the siege of Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.

It was George G. Meade who was the commanding Union general at Gettysburg. And it was George G. Meade, then a mere first lieutenant, who designed Old Barney in 1855.

So many people don’t know that, even though a bust of Meade, along with a plaque citing his achievements, including Gettysburg, stands near the entrance to the Barnegat Light landmark.

Folks who participate in the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20 and 21, will probably see a lot of information about Meade. He also designed Absecon Light in Atlantic City and the Cape May Light (as well as the Jupiter Inlet Light in Jupiter, Fla. and the Sombrero Key Light in the Florida Keys). What was a future major general in the Army of the Potomac doing designing lighthouses? West Point was not only the U.S. Military Academy when Meade graduated 19th in his class of 56 cadets in 1835 but was also one of the top engineering schools in the country. Indeed, Meade had never wanted to follow a military career but rather desired to be a civil engineer. So he resigned from the Army in 1836, only to join again in 1842 after marriage and a family made him seek steady, if not greatly enriching, employment. He became an officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, a forerunner to today’s Army Corps of Engineers.

Participants in the NJ Lighthouse Challenge will be able to visit 11 Garden State lighthouses or light towers including Absecon, Barnegat, Cape May, East Point, Finn’s Point, the Navesink Twins (a north and south tower), Sandy Hook, Sea Girt, Tinicum and Tucker’s Island (a re-creation located at the Tuckerton Seaport). Most of those will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days but Absecon, Cape May and Tinicum will stay open until 8 p.m. on Saturday for night climbs.

The Lighthouse Challenge also includes the Tatham Life Saving Station in Stone Harbor, U.S. Lifesaving Station 30 in Ocean City and the Barnegat Light Museum.

There’s an added inducement to join in the fun in 2018 – food trucks and stands will be available at most sites.

Being part of the Challenge, in which participants try to visit all of the abovementioned sites in two days, is easy, easier probably than ascending all of the lighthouses open to climbs. Simply visit on the internet, look at the digital map, pick a lighthouse to start at, plan a route (directions are available on the site), go to your first lighthouse on Saturday morning, pick up a challenge souvenir for $2 and present it at every other lighthouse you visit. If you complete the souvenir by picking up a piece at every site you can then notify volunteers at your last visit to be entered into a drawing for a $1,000 prize.

For additional information, visit

– Rick Mellerup

Reposted from The Sandpaper