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Sunday, July 21, 2024


A Beacon for the Uncertain Sailor

A Beacon for the Uncertain Sailor

By Christopher South

The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of its lighting, on May 11, 1874. No longer manned, it continues to be an aid to navigation.
Christopher South
The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of its lighting, on May 11, 1874. No longer manned, it continues to be an aid to navigation.

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Marking 150th Anniversary Year

NORTH WILDWOOD – The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, the 5-Mile Island’s oldest structure, is marking its 150th anniversary year.

The celebration of the anniversary on May 11, exactly 150 years since the lighthouse was first lit, included historic presentations, music, a birthday cake and a presentation on Augustine Fresnel, who was the designer of the lighthouse’s first lens.

On June 5, Rep Jeff Van Drew (R-2) read into the Congressional Record a statement recognizing the lighthouse on its 150th anniversary.

Van Drew said in his statement that Hereford Inlet was used by whalers in the 17th century and eventually, due to increased shipping traffic and ships wrecking off the coast, it was determined there was a need for a lighthouse.

It was designed by the lighthouse board’s chief draftsman, Paul J. Pelz, “who later went on to gain recognition as the designer of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.,” Van Drew said, quoting information found at

“Today it is one of the most important structures on 5-Mile Island, and it continues to operate as a navigational aid” he said.

The North Wildwood Historical Commission, which manages the lighthouse, provides information about it on its website, saying the lighthouse withstood the onslaught of wind, rain and tides for 40 years at its original location.

However, a severe storm in August 1913 significantly damaged the foundation, requiring it to be moved westward 150 feet, to where it sits today. A historical marker was installed at the original location on Anglesea Day, June 1, 2018.

Grants awarded by the New Jersey Historic Trust and the state Department of Transportation have helped finance maintenance and repairs over the years.

Today the lighthouse stands at latitude 39 degrees and longitude 74 degrees, 47 minutes. It is approximately 49.5 feet high, with the light elevation rising to 57 feet above sea level. On a clear night, the light is visible from 13 nautical miles.

By marking the mouth of the inlet, the lighthouse helped prevent shipwrecks as shipping traffic increased in the inlet over the years.

A marker at the site tells of the history of the lighthouse.

The all-volunteer North Wildwood Historical Commission’s members are W. Scott Jett, the city clerk and historian, who serves as the commission chairman, Ronald Simone, Mary Kane, Eli Massood, Valerie DeJoseph, Leslie Montgomery and Joseph Rullo.

The lighthouse is located at 111 N. Central Ave. and is open to the public from May to December. Visitors can learn about the history of the building and the local area.

The garden behind the lighthouse. Photo credit: lighthouse website.

For additional information, please email or visit

Call Christopher South at 609-886-8600 x-128 or email


Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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