|Seagulls stand watch above the Miah Maull Shoal Lighhouse.|
Yeah, I'm fascinated by the lighthouses and their stories, of their lightkeepers and their families, their histories and their ghosts.
After last year's expeditions to light houses on the Chesapeake Bay, we -- my sister and I -- decided that light houses on the Delaware Bay would be our next goal. A quick internet search yielded a promising light house tour run by the Cape May Whale Watcher.
The coastal lighthouses of New Jersey are famous for a number of reasons, including their roles in the success of major ports like Philadelphia and their strategic value during times of war. All the lighthouses we saw during this tour could only be seen by boat.
The tour brought us to see six light houses:
- Miah Maull Shoal
- Cross Ledge Shoal
- Elbow of Cross Ledge
- Ship John Shoal
- Fourteen Foot Bank Shoal
- Brandywine Shoal
|Can you see the dolphins in this photo?|
Twenty-five miles inside the bay, a submerged, three-mile-long ridge known as Cross Ledge, lies near the main shipping channel. With a covering in some places of as little as three feet of water, the ledge poses a serious danger to vessels that might stray slightly off course. First marked by a lightship (called the Upper Middle Lightship) in 1823, winter ice flows soon forced the lightship to weigh anchor. After the successful completion of the Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse (which we also visited), the Lighthouse Board approved the construction of the Cross Ledge Lighthouse. Work started on the new lighthouse in 1856 but winter iceflows destroyed the new construction before it was completed. Lightships continued to mark the dangerous site until 1875, when a new lighthouse was finally completed.
In the end, it wasn’t ice or weather that resulted in the now-vacant pier, but rather, two metal lighthouses, Elbow of Cross Ledge and Miah Maull Shoal, which were built nearby. No longer necessary, Cross Ledge Lighthouse was discontinued in 1910.
Today, the hexagonal base serves as a perch for numerous seabirds, and quite surprisingly the granite pier has no light to warn mariners of this man-made obstacle. What for years functioned as a navigational aid has now become a hazard.
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