I remember watching a movie when I was a kid called Pete’s Dragon and one of the tense scenes towards the end took place at an old Lighthouse during a storm. Among everything that happens in the movie from bandits to a magical dragon the one thing that stuck with me most was that lighthouse. I think it was a few things, first the architecture of a lighthouse is always very unique and interesting, plus the more practical reason to serve as a navigational aid for boats and ship. There is something fun and mysterious about them.
I lived in New Jersey for just over 20 years and had visited a few lighthouses as I visited different areas of the state. Whenever possible, even though I’m afraid of heights, I would walk up those winding staircases to get the bird’s eye view from the top. Regardless of my fear, it was always worth it to get those breathtaking landscape views which are sometimes hard to get in New Jersey. But something I never knew existing was the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge.
A couple months ago a fellow pressed penny collector wrote a quick post on Facebook about this challenge due to a pressed penny available (more on this shortly). Apparently in 2019 is the 20th anniversary of this challenge. What exactly is this? It takes place annually over a weekend in October, for 2019 the dates are October 19th-20th, and encourages participants to visit as many of lighthouse locations throughout New Jersey. This not only allows you to experience the lighthouses but helps to raise funds for their preservation. In total there are 15 locations to visit and are spread out mostly up the east coast but there are some on the west side of the state along the Delaware River. The map above is something I put together just to help illustrate where all the locations are. Some lighthouses have a small fee to visit but most just accept a donation.
As I mentioned above there were already some pressed pennies at a couple of the lighthouses available year-round. However new for this year’s challenge was a special designed pressed penny at all of the 15 locations.
They also released a special booklet to store all the pennies you collect along the way. Above is a close up of the challenge penny that is located on the front of the booklet. Of course, now that I live in Florida, it just didn’t fit into my schedule to fly up and try to complete the challenge in person. I was able to cheat a little bit and buy the full set and booklet from the pennycollector.com online store.
Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City. At 171 feet tall this is New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse and is also one of the oldest in the country.
Barnegat Lighthouse is located on the northern tip of Long Beach Island and has fantastic views of the Barnegat Bay and eastern coastline.
Museum at Barnegat is located nearby the Barneget Lighthouse and houses the original Lighthouse 1,025 prism lens, along with photographs and artifacts of the lighthouse and surrounding area history.
Cape May Lighthouse was built in 1859 and is located in the Cape May State Park. You can climb the 199 steps to the top for some amazing ocean views.
Delaware Bay Lighthouse is a white conical metal tower topped by a black lantern at a height of 76 feet. The structure rests on a black trumpet-shaped iron caisson built into the breakwater.
East Point Lighthouse was built in 1849 is located in Heislerville is situated at the mouth of the Maurice River and overlooks the Delaware Bay.
Finns Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1877. The historic iron tower is in the Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is 115 feet tall.
Twin Lights of Navesink Lighthouse is located in Highlands New Jersey. This unique lighthouse was constructed from local brownstone in 1862 and features two non-identical towers and dual lights. One fixed and one flashing.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse is part of the Gateway National Recreation area. The lighthouse overlooks the Sandy Hook Bay and is walking distance from nature trails and nearby historic sites. There are 95 steps to the top and then a nine-rung ladder to the lens room at the top.
Sea Girt Lighthouse is in a red brick building that first started operating in 1896 and was the last live-in lighthouse built on the Atlantic coast. This means the tower was integrated into the keeper’s living quarters.
Sqwuan Beach Life Saving Station #9 is located in Manasquan New Jersey. It was constructed in 1903 and was in service until 1936.
Tatham Life Saving Station is located in Stone Harbor New Jersey. The oldest existing building in Stone Harbor was built in 1895 and has a tower to observe the Atlantic Ocean, Hereford Inlet, and back bays.
Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse is located along the shores of the Delaware River in Paulsboro New Jersey. This 1880s lighthouse features a steel skeletal structure that reaches 85 feet tall. There are 112 steps to the top which houses the lantern room, watch room and keeper’s dwelling.
Tucker’s Island Lighthouse is located in Tuckerton New Jersey. This is a reproduction of the original lighthouse which infamously fell into the ocean in 1927.
U.S. Life Saving Station 30 can be found in Ocean City New Jersey. This 1880s structure features a gabled roof, lookout tower, boat bay, and a wrap-around porch.
Here is a look at the entire penny set in the booklet. It’s nice that there are specific labels for each of the coins, and the plastic sleeves are oriented differently depending on if the penny has a vertical or horizontal design.
That really is a great set of pennies and the challenge seems like it would be a lot of driving and make for a long weekend. But I will admit I wish I was able to participate this year. You can visit the website for the challenge here, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the 2020 dates to see if maybe I can try and do this new year. Hopefully, the pressed pennies are a big hit this year so they continue it in years to come.