The 10 Most Endangered Historic Places program spotlights irreplaceable historic, architectural, cultural, and archaeological resources in New Jersey that are in imminent danger of being lost.
The East Point Lighthouse, built in 1849, is the second oldest existing lighthouse in New Jersey. While it underwent a full restoration just two years ago with state and federal funding assistance, it is under threat by the ravages of nature.
Sitting on an outcropping of land where the Maurice River enters the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County, the mouth of the river and the adjacent bayshore are rapidly eroding and tidal waters are now threatening the lighthouse.
The erosion has already washed out the protective dunes and the stewards of the lighthouse are left with sandbag brigades in a futile attempt to hold back tidal waters and storm surge.
First noticed in aerial photography of the 1970s, the mouth of the Maurice River and the adjacent bayshore is rapidly eroding, and tidal waters are now threatening the lighthouse. While the threat is recognized and entities such as the Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Protection, and local county and municipal governments are in the process of drafting plans to mitigate the threat, the erosion has already washed out the protective dunes. And, the stewards of the lighthouse have been left with sandbag brigades in a futile attempt to hold back tidal waters and storm surge. Even with this effort, bay waters regularly lap at the front of the lighthouse and the basement fills with water.
While the site owner, the State of New Jersey, is currently studying mitigation alternatives, they need to act more expediently to protect this National and State Register of Historic Places listed site before it is gone forever, according to Preservation New Jersey.
In effort to stave off Mother Nature, two pump stations were installed in the lighthouse’s basement in 2017 to push out flood waters as part of a $650,000 restoration project headed by the federal government and state Historic Trust Fund. And, the state Department of Environmental Protection will install a 900-foot Geotube from a nearby boat ramp to a bulkhead outside the lighthouse this summer.
Selections to the 2019 10 Most Endangered list are based on three criteria:
•historic significance and architectural integrity,
•the critical nature of the threat identified, and
•the likelihood that inclusion on the list will have a positive impact on efforts to protect the resource.