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The Third Tower

Twin Lights in 100 Artifacts #11- The Third Tower

No permanent light was established on the Navesink Highlands until 1828 when two octagonal towers of blue split stones were placed 320 feet apart. The new double lighthouse was fitted with curved mirrors known as parabolic reflectors and whale oil lamps at a cost of $10,290. Both towers had different light patterns, with the North tower remaining steady and the South tower revolving. Evidence of poor construction began to surface shortly with the cistern, towers, and lighting apparatus quickly deteriorating.

Despite its condition, the site was selected in 1840 to test the first Fresnel Lenses in the United States because of its prominent location and nearby resources. A temporary tower was constructed to house the parabolic reflectors while each tower was adapted for the new lenses. After delays caused by material shortages and weather, the new Navesink Lights shown out brightly on February 25, 1841.

“I have examined the Light Houses at the Highlands of Navesink, and have no hesitation in saying that they are the most brilliant lights I have ever seen or had any conception of” - Captain Samuel Nicoll, March 15, 1841

The temporary tower was retained well after the new Fresnel Lenses were installed as local mariners had come to rely on them as a visual aid known as a day mark. The towers were ordered removed in 1849 but appear to have been in place as late as the above etching believed to be from 1852.


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