Hope for the Barnegat Lightship after N.J. county buys marina

The Camden County Board of Commissioners on Thursday agreed to purchase the Pyne Poynt Marina and plans to turn it into a waterfront park, a move that suddenly offers new hope that the marina’s historic vessel, the Barnegat Lightship, can be restored.

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The commissioners voted unanimously to buy the seven-acre parcel for $633,000 from Anna G. Sadler. The acquisition is being funded through a mix of county funds and 50% reimbursement through the state’s Green Acres program, a county spokesman said.

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Sadler is the widow of Rodney Sadler, the community activist who nearly 30 years ago towed the Barnegat from Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia to Camden hoping to create a waterfront attraction.

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Sadler’s dream never became a reality due to lack of funding, and the Barnegat slowly sunk into the mud at the marina, located on a back channel of the Cooper River. The light atop the mast went out long ago, the familiar red and white hull that guided so many ships has faded, and rust has eaten away at the 120-year-old hull. Scavengers and treasure hunters have almost stripped the vessel clean.

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In 2020, a group of residents from Long Beach Island bought the ship’s bell and brought it back to Barnegat Light and mounted it at borough hall.

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Now, four years after Rodney Sadler’s death, the county plans to remove the abandoned boats from the property and create a park that will be added to the “Link” a 32-mile long hiking and biking trail that runs from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to Cape May.

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“It’s a magnificent property,” said Commissioner Jeff Nash, who is the board liaison to the Camden County Parks Department. “Credit Annie Sadler. She had other offers, but she wanted this to be her husband’s legacy.”

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Sadler said she hopes the county follows through with its promise to open Pyne Poynt up to the public – and that the Barnegat is part of the plan.

“She needs a volunteer group to come in and clear her up,” Sadler said. “I don’ think she’s worthy, but she’s stable, in that she’s been stuck in the mud for so long.”

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Nash said the future of the Barnegat has yet to be determined, but he would like to preserve the vessel, which guided ships along the Jersey coast for 60 years and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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“I can’t definitely say what’s going to happen,” Nash said. “Somebody is going to have to take a hard look at the Barnegat and see if it’s worth preserving. I’m hoping we can preserve it.”

Barnegat Lightship
The Barnegat Lightship is docked at the Pyne Poynt Marina in Camden.

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Built in Camden, the 631-ton lightship joined the fleet of floating lighthouses in 1904 that was first operated by the U.S. Lighthouse Service, and later, the Coast Guard. The iron-hulled behemoth was anchored off Cape May until 1924, when she was moved to a point about seven miles east of the Barnegat Inlet, from which the lightship draws its name.

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During World War II, the Barnegat patrolled Delaware Bay, inspecting cargo ships before they entered port. After the war, she resumed her station off Barnegat Inlet, guiding ships with her unique flash and, when the weather called for it, her bellowing foghorn.

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Advances in technology – mainly in the form of satellite and GPS – ultimately rendered lightships obsolete, and the Barnegat was decommissioned in 1967. Three years later, the Coast Guard gave the ship to the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild, which docked the Barnegat at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. The ship was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

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Originally from Philadelphia, Rodney and Anna Sadler moved to the Pyne Poynt Marina in 1978 (there are two houses on the property, she said). They bought the marina in 1980 and raised their family there, she said.

“It’s always been a wonderful place for kids,” she said. “Sit there long enough and the deer will come up to you.”

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When the guild could no longer afford the upkeep, Sadler had the Barnegat towed to his Pyne Poynt Marina in Camden.

Sadler, a harbormaster and former member of the Camden Planning Board, started a citizen’s group, Save Our Waterfront, which aimed to improve Camden’s side of the river. Unfortunately, most of the attention at that time went toward an even bigger ship on the Camden waterfront, the Battleship New Jersey, which arrived in 2001.

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“When the battleship arrived all those plans were dropped,” Sadler said. “We tried to get funding, but it was difficult.”

Barnegat was built in 1904 by the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden. The vessel served from 1904 to 1924 as the lightship for Five Fathom Bank, which is located 15 miles (24 km) from the Cape May Lighthouse.

 The vessel was then used as a relief for the next two years. In 1927 the vessel was assigned to the Barnegat Lighthouse station.

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In 1942 the vessel was withdrawn from the Barnegat station to serve as an examination vessel at Edgemoor, Delaware. Barnegat would inspect all vessels entering the Delaware River until 1945.

 The vessel returned to the Barnegat station, where it served until it was decommissioned on 3 March 1967. 

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Barnegat was then donated to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michaels, Maryland. The museum was unable to keep up with the maintenance of the vessel and sold the vessel to the Heritage Ship Guild in 1970 to be displayed at Penn’s Landing.

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Who owns Barnegat Lighthouse?
Image result for United States lightship Barnegat

The lighthouse is owned by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks and Forestry and is part of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park.

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What is the history of the Barnegat Lighthouse?

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The original Lighthouse was built in 1834 for $6,000. It stood only 40 feet tall and its non-flashing, fifth class light was considered incompetent by mariners of the day. Henry V. Low was the first keeper of the Lighthouse and served from August 3, 1835 until March 12, 1838.

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Where is Barnegat Lightship?

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The United States lightship Barnegat (LV-79/WAL-506), is located in Camden, Camden County, New Jersey, United States. The lightship was built in 1904 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on 29 November 1979

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How much is Barnegat Lighthouse?

a $3 fee per person

The lighthouse is open daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm (weather permitting) from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There is a $3 fee per person to enter the lighthouse from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Children ages 6 to 11 are $1 and children ages 5 and under are free and must be accompanied by an adult.

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What is the world’s oldest lighthouse?

The oldest existing lighthouse in the world is considered to be La Coruna in Spain that dates from ca. 20 B.C. A Roman lighthouse is located on the Cliffs of Dover in the UK that was constructed in 40 A.D. The first lighthouse in America was at Boston on Little Brewster Island (1716).

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What was Barnegat named after?

Barnegat derives its name from the Dutch word Barende-gat, meaning an inlet with breakers. Its major settlement, also named Barnegat, is found along Route 9, however many small 18th and 19th century settlements, such as Cedar Bridge and Reevestown, have been forgotten or have vanished over the years.

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What is the name of the lighthouse in New Jersey?

New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse awaits you at Pacific and Rhode Island Avenues in Atlantic City. Take an amazing journey into time and above it all as you ascend the 228 steps of the Absecon Lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in the country.

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When was Barnegat founded?

Barnegat Light was formed as a borough by the New Jersey Legislature on November 2, 1948, to replace Barnegat City borough, which in turn had been created on March 29, 1904, from portions of Long Beach Township.

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Barnegat Light, New Jersey
Elevation3 ft (0.9 m)
Population (2020)
• Total640
• Estimate (2021)653

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