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The Conover Beacon was provided for by an act of Congress,
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
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
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
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,
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 horizonal 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.