BRIEF HISTORY OF LONG BEACH ISLAND
Long Beach Island is an 18 mile long barrier island of white sandy beaches and rolling surf, bay beaches, yacht clubs and marinas with access to the Waterway.
In the early 1800’s; the Island was an important whaling & fishing center. Hearty Scandinavian fishermen ventured through strong tides and rough seas to supply Philadelphia & New York markets.
Our commercial fishing industry continues today out of Barnegat Light with an extensive “over seas” market plus supplying our local markets and restaurants. To aid intrepid mariners; the first Barnegat Lighthouse was built in 1834 only later to be swallowed by the sea. NJ State Parks & Recreation Agency now manages the current Lighthouse that is open to the public to climb its 217 steps for a panoramic view of LBI shore to shore. Adjacent is a small museum, picnic area, gazebo, nature trails and handicapped friendly walkway out along the rock jetty for fishing or just enjoying the view.
Fishermen in the 1800's pose with their boat.
Commercial fishing today.
By 1871; the Philadelphia Railroad had a spur to Tuckerton where weary travelers then took a boat to The Queen City [now Beach Haven]; a health resort where the wealthy could escape the cities to breathe the salty ocean air. Rustic gentlemen’s hunting & fishing clubs were built down the Island taking advantage of the abundant wildlife. Campers pitched tents nestled in the dunes to fish, sun and swim. Originally, the only access to the Island was by boat, but in 1886, a railroad bridge was constructed across the bay only to be destroyed by a storm in 1935.
By 1914; the first Causeway Bridge was built for auto access to the Island making it accessible to a wider range of vacationers from the Tri-State area. This changed the face of the Island as developers ventured to build vacation cottages within the towns being established along its 18 miles. Prohibition was pretty much ignored along the coast as bootleggers ran their hooch through the inlets. Hotels that carried music and dancing, flourished. Fishing became a sport, bathing suits now exposed skin to the sun and lifeguards kept bathers safe.
Lifeguards pose for a quick photo between shifts.
A lifeguard team from the 1940's!
Though the communities, cottages and beach living style have evolved; the peaceful, relaxed personality of the Island has not changed. Today, LBI has homeowners and vacationers from far beyond New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Nearing the Island you will hear the children beg: “Are we there yet?: At last, you catch that first salty sea breeze and know you have arrived.
Black & white photos provided by Margaret Thomas Buchholz from her "Seasons in the Sun" book.