Long Beach Island History
In this chapter:
Of Tide And Time
Note In A Bottle
The Tuckerton Railroad
The waves dash against its fragile container, threatening its existence as it travels along the current. It depends on the Tide to carry it to a safe landing, where it can fulfill its destiny. Its vessel is not of Nature. It is a man-made thing. Yet it is strong and capable as long as the Tide which carries it does not get too rough. Hopefully, Nature will be kind and not crash this bottle against coastal rocks before it can deliver its cargo to safety.
Imagine thousands of notes carried over the waves to a long, slender island six miles out at sea. Each note is precious and must reach its destination without harm, so the bottles carrying them are strong and powerful. However, at any moment, the Tide may rise. A storm of monstrous proportion could sweep into the area and destroy the vessels and the cargo they carry.
Is this not the way Of Time and Tide? Mankind seeks to fulfill his dreams, even though Nature could intervene at any time. In this case, the dream is to reach the barrier island of Long Beach, a pristine resting place and playground. The bottles used to cross the bay have changed over the years. First, there were wooden boats. They were followed by steam-powered ferries. Then came the railroad, across the bay and onto the island. It seemed nothing would stop the dream. Man continued his development of transportation and was finally able to construct an automobile causeway to the island. Thousands of people could sail across the bay in their metal bottles, thousands of notes traveling toward a safe haven.
Do not forget however that the Tide is fickle. It cares nothing for the notes ferrying back and forth across the bay. The Human Race has made great strides and can be proud of its accomplishments, but It cannot be so bold as to disregard the ever present force of Nature. How many lives have been lost to the whims of the sea?
Luckily, the Tide on the bay side of the island is kind. It remains for the most part calm and quiet. A small reminder of Nature's strength was nevertheless given when the railroad trestle was claimed by a storm, an arm of the ocean. What was believe to be the most powerful land transportation system created by man was made impotent in a matter of minutes. Thus is the nature of our relationship to the elements.
Before 1886, the only method of transport to Long Beach Island was boat, whether it be a rowboat, a yatch or a ferry. Many of those who came to Long Beach before the coming of the railroad or causeway were well-to-do and owned their own vessel. The larger boarding houses would also pick guests up at various places along the Jersey coast and bring them to the island. Tucker's Island, Bond's, the Mansion of Health and Barnegat City each had a designated dock on the mainland.
A more formal and scheduled ferry line was begun in 1873 by Archelaus R. Pharo to bring construction materials to the newly founded community of Beach Haven. Pharo was a stockholder in the The Tuckerton Railroad and had constructed a spur line from the mainland town of Tuckerton to Edge Cove, a safe docking area about two miles away. The first steam-powered ferry to travel the bay was the Barclay built and named after Barclay Haines, owner of the Rancocas Steamboat Company. The ferry would carry timber and other materials to Mud Hen Creek on Long Beach, where they would be loaded onto carts and pulled along Dock Road, a narrow path built by Pharo, to the construction site of The Parry House. When the hotel was completed in 1874, the steamship brought guest to Dock Road to enjoy the first season in Beach Haven.
Barnegat City soon established its own steamline from Toms River, where the Philadelphia and Long Branch Railroad would deliver travelers from New York. Guest were ferried to either Barnegat City or to Harvey Cedars.
The Tuckerton Railroad
Since the invention of the iron horse in the early 1800's, plans were developed to build railroad lines to cross the state of New Jersey. These railroads would carry thousands from Philadelphia and New York to the resort towns along the shore. Many small companies were formed and built several small raillines between important towns and cities, but many were not able to continue to finance the construction and went bankrupt. Larger institutions like the Pennsylvania Railroad began to invest in some of the smaller companies, but it would still be well into the late nineteenth century before a Philadelphia vacationer could travel to Long Beach Island by train.
Archelaus R. Pharo, the son of wealthy ship builders, was determined to bring as many people as possible to his favorite vacation spot, Long Beach Island. Just before he established the corporation which would build Beach Haven, he invested in the construction of the Tuckerton Railroad. Barclay Haines, owner of the Rancocas Steamboat Company, had enlisted the aid of the Baldwin Locomotive Works to build a line from Whiting in Burlington County to Tuckerton. Whiting was an important junction with the New Jersey Southern and Pennsylvania railroads. Both had lines coming from New York and Philadelphia. With Pharo's support, the Tuckerton Railroad was completed. A spur line was added to Edge Cove, where Barclay's steamboat would pick up travelers and supplies and ferry them to the new resort town of Beach Haven.
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