Cohansey Lighthouse - Mouth of Cohansey River, 
Bridgeton, NJ

Photo from National Archives

History | Characteristics | Keepers


There is some evidence that a lighthouse near the mouth of the Cohansey Creek in 1816, but to date, no drawings or depictions of it have been found. It is not known who constructed the lighthouse, or maintained it. An appropriations of $1,000 to purchase additional land for the site at this station was made by the act approved August 7, 1882. The ten acres selected were purchased and the title-papers were approved January 24, 1883. Plans for the new structure were made, and the building is now under contract.The first lighthouse built by the Lighthouse Service was constructed in 1838 and described as being built near the mouth of the Cohansey Creek at " 39° 20' 19" north latitude and 75° 21' 38" west longitude, Cumberland County, New Jersey." "The light is exhibited from lantern on top of dwelling, and illuminated 270° of the horizon; it is of the 5th order, fixed white, and is 45 feet above mean high water." An 1838 report by William D. Porter, Lieutenant, U.S.N., describes the lighthouse as:

Cohansey light.–Light on keeper's dwelling; burns eleven lamps with spherical reflectors. The house badly built; walls crumbling; cistern leaks. Badly kept.

No photographs of the lighthouse are known to exist, but two engravings by W. H. Rease of Philadelphia, exist and were reproduced in the Spring, 1973 issue of South Jersey Magazine. On October 23, 1879 a storm damaged the lighthouse so badly that a the process of replacing it began. In the meantime emergency repairs were made to the existing lighthouse to make it habitable.

By 1883, the new Cohansey Lighthouse was completed and the remains of the 1838 lighthouse were sold for salvage. It was constructed at 39° 20' 33" north latitude by 75° 21' 44" west longitude. The lighthouse was a white frame structure with green shutters, topped by a black square tower. The lighthouse contained 6 rooms. Water was supplied from four storage tanks, two of iron and two of wood) which collected rain water from the roof. The lighthouse was constructed upon wooden beams which rested upon cast iron piles. It was equipped with a 5th order Fresnel lens built by L. Sautter & Cie, of Paris, France. It's light showed 42 feet above mean high water. The 1883 lighthouse was destroyed by a mysterious fire on July 21, 1933.

Light Characteristics


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