“Old Barney” stands sentinel at the ever-shifting entrance to Barnegat Inlet. When constructed in 1859, it was situated 900 feet from the shore. Today the lighthouse stands at the waters edge, less than 50 feet from the Atlantic Ocean due to beach erosion and the never-ceasing currents flowing around the inlet.
A panoramic view of Island Beach, Barnegat Bay and Long Beach Island awaits visitors at the top of Barnegat Lighthouse. Visitors can also catch the views from the top without climbing the 217 steps thanks to four cameras that transmit live images of the view to a display in the nearby Interpretive Center.
Barnegat Light’s place at the inlet, while helpful to those entering the bay, was part of a system of Seacoast Lights intended to help mariners approaching from the Atlantic find their way up and down the New Jersey shore. The need for the lights was made tragically clear after the loss of over 350 lives in the wrecks of the Powhattan and New Era in 1954 along this stretch of the Jersey Shore. A 1855 report described the situation as follows:
“Vessels bound to this port from Europe and from the south, often make the land in the neighborhood of this point, or between it and the highlands of Navesink; and were they warned in time, as they would be with a suitable light, they would often avoid the dangers of this part of the coast, which, in the absence of such a guide, prove formidable agents in the destruction of life and property. The evidence of this is borne in the winter’s record of wrecks, and still more strongly in the remains of lost vessels which are strewn all along the beach.” - Lieutenant George G. Meade, Engineer, 4th Lighthouse District.
The new tower stands 163’ tall, with a glass lantern room atop of it that once housed a giant 1st Order Fresnel Lens. The lens was composed of 1,027 prisms arranged around 24 bulls-eye panels that gave the lighthouse it’s characteristic flash of light every 10 seconds that could be seen 19 nautical miles to sea. The lighthouse still bears its characteristic daymark of a red top and white bottom today, used for identifying lighthouses during the daylight hours. A large keeper’s residence was constructed to house the Keeper and two Assistant Keepers who each took a four-hour watch during the night to ensure that the light did not go out and kept the lens turning. The original Fresnel Lens was removed in 1927, shortly after the lighthouse was turned over to the State of New Jersey to become a public park. Dimmer lights replaced it, but the lighthouse was eventually extinguished during World War II. It was not to be illuminated again until January 1st, 2009 thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, who raised the needed funds to purchase a U.S. Coast Guard approved lens. The original lens can be visited today at the Barnegat Light Historical Society’s Schoolhouse Museum.
The “Story of Barnegat Lighthouse” is showcased in the Interpretive Center at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. The Interpretive Center depicts the history of Barnegat Lighthouse from shipwrecks to first class seacoast light.
Images and stories recount the vision of Lieutenant George G. Meade; the evolution of lighthouse technology; and the specific duties of Barnegat Lighthouse's keepers. A large panel entitled “Save Barnegat Light” focuses attention on efforts of the local community and federal, state and local governments to protect the lighthouse from erosion and ultimate destruction.
Visitors can learn about the changing nature of the coastline and the natural environment that surrounds the lighthouse, including Barnegat Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the maritime forest. A gallery of historic photographs provides a glimpse of life at a lighthouse on the Jersey Shore in bygone days. These images portray the lure of the bay and the many ways people have used and enjoyed the resources of this region. For the hours of operation, please call the park office at 609-494-2016.
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park invites you to participate in our array of Interpretive programs. For details, please call the park office at 609-494-2016.
Facilities for People with Disabilities
We encourage people with disabilities who require special considerations to contact the historic site / park at the phone number listed in the general information on the home page of the historic site / park. The staff will assist with arrangements. Text telephone (TT) users, please call the NJ Relay Services at (800) 852-7899.
For the Comfort and Enjoyment of All
This historic site / park is part of the NJ State Park system and your cooperation with the following will help ensure the survival of the museum collections, historic structures & features and surrounding property for the enjoyment and education of future generations!
Please contact this historic site / park with specific inquiries about any of these restrictions, as there may be some variations at this specific historic site / park.
Barnegat Light, NJ 08006
P.O. Box 167
Barnegat Light, NJ 08006
Lighthouse Hours First Saturday in April through last Sunday in October: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.(weather permitting)
Year-round: Open, but hours vary. Call 609-494-2016 for up-to-date information.
Entrance Fee Lighthouse Entrance Fee charged Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.
Adults: $3 per person
Children (ages 6 to 11): $1 per person
Children ages 5 and under: Free, but must be accompanied by an adult.