County: Cumberland County
East Point Lighthouse sits on an outcropping of land where the Nationally-designated Wild and Scenic River system of the Maurice River enters the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County. Built in 1849, it is the second oldest existing lighthouse in New Jersey, and two years ago underwent a full restoration through the assistance of New Jersey Historic Trust and Federal Department of Transportation grant funds. Despite this investment, this picturesque brick Cape Cod style lighthouse is far from safe and secure.
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 are 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.
Climate change is threatening water-adjacent historic resources around the world, causing preservationists to consider a range of solutions including structural and/or natural means of reinforcing the water’s edge, raising structures, and/or moving them to higher ground. Due to the particular nature and location of East Point, which is still being used as an active navigational aid, the lighthouse is facing immediate threat that requires a more immediate response than what has been proposed to date. While currently investigating mitigation alternatives, Preservation New Jersey calls on the site owner – the State of New Jersey – to act more expediently to protect this National and State Register listed site before the structure is gone forever.
Maurice River Historical Society