Image courtesy of
The Conover Beacon was provided for by an act of
Congress, which was approved on August 31, 1852, but it
took another four years until the beacon was in
operation. The original land on which the beacon sat was
purchased from Rulif Conover, hence the beacon's name.
That same year a beacon was erected further inland at
Chapel Hill, 224 feet above sea level. Together, the
beacons served as range lights, guiding ships through
the narrows by way of the Chapel Hill Channel.
The original Conover Beacon was a wooden clapboard
tower painted with red, white and red bands mounted on
the roof of a frame dwelling. Gustav Kobbe, in his book,
Jersey Coast and Pines1, described the
beacon as it appeared in 1889:
To one with an eye for the picturesque this
graceful red and white tower, 55 feet high, on a low
sandy point surrounded by a ledge–a beautiful foreground
against the blue sea beyond–forms a very interesting
combination of effects.
The original beacon was fueled with oil, but in 1924,
the lamps were replaced by an electric light. The beacon
performed its duty until 1941, when it was razed and
replaced by the present steel tower. The colors of the
original tower were kept however. Carl Anderson was the
original lights last keeper.
The present tower was once the second Bayside Beacon,
replacing an earlier Bayside Beacon that was taken out
of service during the 1930's.
The beacon was described in
contemporary nautical charts as "E Int G 4sec 45 ft.,"
ie., Equal Interval light, group flashing, every 4
seconds on a 45 foot tower. It is located on the bay
side of Leonard Avenue in Leonardo, New Jersey. It is
a 45 foot tall iron with a white base, followed
skyward by horizontal bands of red, white and red. The
tower is tubular and supported by an external
skeleton. It is currently inactive and has been handed
over to the GSA for disposal.