Thomas Leonard’s book, ‘From Indian Trail to Electric Rail” contains a number
of stories about the Twin Lights, going back to what he describes as the first
permanent lighthouse in Highlands in 1765.
Quoting from “Smith’s History of New Jersey,” a publication of the late 18th
century, Leonard said the New York Merchants erected ”Commodore Light-
Houses for the security of navigation.” The land on which the lighthouses were
built was purchased from Nimrod Woodward by the United States in1826 and the
building was ready for use two years late, improved in 1840 and renovated once
again in 1862, resulting in the current structure.
The towers are 300 feet apart and 248 feet above sea level. The towers, from the
base to the lights, is 53 feet, and the original lanterns were first-order lenses, fixed
and visible for more than 22 nautical miles 15 feet above sea level. At the time,
the square South Tower and the octagonal North Tower were the largest, and
highest lights along the entire Atlantic Coast.
It’s also interesting to note that in towers as tall as the Twin Lights, windows
were built in the towers to provide the best daylight on the stairs, and landings
are provided at regular intervals. In addition to the keepers quarters, the property
also contained an oil house, workshop, a barn and fences.
Smith also names the earliest keepers of the lights, including Joseph Doty,
James Wilson, Joseph Lopez, Joseph Thompson, James Hubbard, Samuel Mullen,
Orden Sickles, Smith Conover, Tabor Chadwick, Charles Van Allen and Daniel
Calkins with several of those names still part of Highlands today.