Navesink Twin Lights

Sept. 17, 2019

Navesink Twin Lights, Highlands, Monmouth County, New Jersey



Station Established: 1828
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1862
Operational? YES; North Tower: NO
Automated? YES 1949
Deactivated: 1898-1962; North Tower: 1949
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: BROWNSTONE W/BRICK LINING
Tower Height: 46 feet; 73 feet; focal plane of 246 feet
Tower Shape: OCTAGONAL; North Tower: SQUARE
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Original Lens: Second Order Fresnel, 1841; North Tower: First Order Fresnel, 1841

General Information:

Navesink Light, New Jersey, on Navesink Highlands, south of the entrance to New York, was established in 1828.  It consisted originally of two rubble towers.  In 1862 two brownstone towers replaced these, the north tower being octagonal and the south tower square.  They are 73 feet high and connected by a dwelling. The present light is exhibited from the south tower only and shows a flashing white light every 5 seconds, 246 feet above water and visible 19 miles.  The light in the north tower was discontinued in 1898.

In 1841 the first Fresnel lens to be used in this country was imported from France and installed in the south tower.  In 1898 an electric arc lamp replaced oil lamps in the south tower, this being the first primary lighthouse in the United States to use electric light.  The electric arc lamp was equipped with a bivalve lens of the new lighting type.  This lens, weighing over 7 tons, revolved in 10 seconds, and gave a flash every 5 seconds, lasting 0.3 seconds.  The Navesink Light was the only shore station having a plant for generating electricity.  Its estimated candlepower was 25,000,000 making it the most powerful coast light in the United States.  Although on account of the curvature of the earth, the light itself could not be seen more than 22 miles, its beam was reported to have been observed in the sky at a distance of 70 nautical miles.

After the establishment of this electric flashing light many complaints were made by residents of the neighborhood of the great discomfort and annoyance caused by the brilliancy of the flash.  This was remedied by darkening several of the lantern panels on the landside.  The light was later changed to an electric incandescent light of 9,000,000 candlepower.  With the improvement in floating aids, however, this lighthouse lost some of its early importance, and the candlepower was reduced to 5,000 candlepower.  It was changed to unwatched in 1949.  The light was discontinued in 1952 and used as a daybeacon until 1963.


  • 1828:  The original twin towers at Navesink were built. They stood 100 yards apart. The north tower displayed a fixed white light while the south tower had a rotating white light.
  • 1841:  The first Fresnel lens in the United States was installed in the south tower.
  • By 1851:  It was decided that new towers were needed to replace the originals.
  • 1862:  The new and current towers were first lit. The north octagonal tower and the south square tower were connected by the keeper's quarters. The north tower was equipped with a 2nd order Fresnel lens and the south displayed its 1st order Fresnel lens.
  • 1898:  A generator was installed. This made Navesink the site of the first lighthouse with electricity.
  • 1949:  The US Coast Guard automated the lights.
  • 1953:  The light station was decommissioned and turned over to the state of New Jersey.
  • 1962:  A sixth order Fresnel lens was placed in the north tower.
  • 2002:  The north tower is open for climbing. A museum and gift shop now occupies the keeper's quarters.

Chronology researched and written by Diane Hackney.