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Winslow Lewis built the first sentinel on New Jersey’s Barnegat Inlet in 1835. This figure held the patent on the Argand lamp and parabolic reflector system used on the early lights in the US until the middle 1850’s. The original light, only 45 feet high, lasted only 20 years and was replaced in 1859 by the current 163-foot tower. One ships captain described the initial light as “Indifferent...and indistinguishable from another ship’s light in poor weather”.
Lieutenant George Meade, a lighthouse board inspector and in 1863 the commander of the Army of the Potomac, was the whistle blower on the crumbling first tower’s inadequacies. He pointed out that the initial structure was nothing more than an inlet light at a location that deserved better. Meade felt that the location called for a major light and insisted that a first order Fresnel lamp be installed to guide ships at sea. The keeper lit the big lens on January 1, 1859.
November 7th, 2012
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