Long Beach Island History
In this chapter:
Of Tide and Time
Little Egg Harbor Lighthouse (Tucker's Beach Light)
The Resort of Sea Haven
Many things were created by the sea and were here only a short time ago. The Human Race, ambitious and brave, cannot at times understand the vast arena of Time in which the ocean works. Man would build upon the creations of the sea only to be devastated when those entities were called back to the waters. Like a slow whirlpool sucking everything into itself, the timeless sea has no care whether something is its own or of man. In the end, all things are pulled back into the sea. Its power is ultimate.
There is no greater example of the effect Tide and Time has on the Jersey Shore than that of Tucker's Island. Like the legendary island of myth, this small isle is the Jersey Shore's Atlantis.
Once, it lay off the southern end of Long Beach Island, a separate isle known as Short Beach. The Tide, washing in and out of Little Egg Harbor Bay, slowly built up shoals that would connect Short Beach to Long Beach. Meanwhile, Time would see the small island's name changed to Tucker's Island and the creation of a small resort known as Sea Haven. Men would come to build a lighthouse and a life saving station, only to have Nature wash both into the sea. Finally, the Atlantic would claim the entire island.
Situated at the entrance of Little Egg Harbor Bay, Short Beach was a natural resting place for seafarers during storms or long voyages. Ephraim Morse took advantage of this location and provided supplies and shelter to passing sailors. The island's cool breezes and beaches began to attract summer visitors, and during the mid 1700's, Short Beach became the first resort on the Jersey Shore.
The island was to gain a new name through the popularity of it's second inhabitant, Reuben Tucker. Mr. Tucker purchased the land in 1765 and built a large house with a tavern on the highest point of the island. The house grew into a large boarding house and prospered until it burned down in 1845. Tucker's Island or Tucker's Beach became well known all along the Eastern Seaboard.
Tuckerton, New Jersey was named after Reuben Tucker's son, Ebenezer. Ebenezer was to become very successful as a businessman, and his influence on the mainland was so great that the people of Clamtown changed the name of their home to Tuckerton.
By the dawn of the Civil War, sand had built up between Long Beach Island and Tucker's Island. The Old Inlet separating the two islands was blocked. People could then walk from Tucker's Beach to the new resort of Beach Haven on LBI. In
the 1880's, plans were drawn up for extending the Beach Haven Railroad to Sea Haven (the community formed on Tucker's Beach). However, the small resort could not complete with Beach Haven and would not last.
A 1920 storm would once again separate the two islands and mark the beginning of the end for Tucker's Island. By 1927, the erosion was so bad that the lighthouse fell into the sea. Like Atlantis, the entire island was eventually swallowed up by the ocean.
Tucker's Island may yet be reborn. Today, Beach Haven Inlet is slowly closing and new shoals and sandbars are building up at the south end of Long Beach Island to reform Tucker's Beach.
Little Egg Harbor Lighthouse
In 1848, Little Egg Harbor Lighthouse or Tucker's Beach Light was built on the former site of the Tucker's boardinghouse. The inlet it marked however was closing up, and by 1860, Tucker's Beach was part of Long Beach Island. The lighthouse became obsolete as a marker for the Old Inlet. So, it was not used for several years.
After the Civil War, Little Egg Harbor Lighthouse was reconditioned and used to warn mariners to check their charts for Little Egg Harbor Inlet, which was three miles south of the light. Six red flashes and one long white beam told sailors that the inlet was not next to the lighthouse. The beacon could be seen quite a distance out to sea.
Unlike the lighthouse at Barnegat Inlet, this was not a sleek tower. The building looked just like a normal home with a black
square tower and the lens assembly stuck on the top. One family lived in the keeper's house during the entire sixty-three years the light was in service. Eber Rider, the first keeper, was succeeded by his son Arthur.
Tucker's Beach was once again separated from Long Beach Island in 1920. The sea slowly eroded the island until it reached the base of the lighthouse. Finally, in October of 1927, the foundation of the building was attacked by the Atlantic, and the light fell into the water.
The Resort of Sea Haven
Inspired by the popularity of Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, Alfred Stevens built the Columbia Hotel on Tucker's Island. Eber Rider, keeper of the Little Egg Habor Lighthouse, built another large boarding house called St. Alban's. Between 1875 and 1886, the small community grew and prospered. It was called Sea Haven, and vacationers were ferried to the area from Edge Cove.
Unfortunately, when a railroad line reached Long Beach Island in 1886, it stopped at Beach Haven instead of continuing to Sea Haven. The resort community on Tucker's Beach could no longer compete and both hotels were eventually abandoned.
Sea Haven would eventually be swallowed by the sea as Tucker's Island eroded away into nothingness.