Twin Lights of Highlands
Situated 200 feet above sea level atop the Navesink Highlands, Twin Lights has stood as a watcher and garden of ships over the treacherous coastal waters of northern New Jersey since 1828. Named Navesink Light Station, it became known as the "Twin Lights of Highlands" to those who used its mighty beacons to navigate. As the primary lighthouse for New York Harbor, it was the best and brightest light on the Atlantic Coast for generations of seafarers. Many a life and cargo were saved by the sweep of its beacons.
The lighthouse was built in 1828 and had fallen into disrepair due to the foul weather of the North Atlantic cost. The current lighthouse, built in 1862 of local brownstone, cost $74,000. Architect Joseph Lederle designed the new structure with two non-identical towers linked by keepers' quarters and storage rooms. This unique design made it easy to distinguish Twin Lights from other nearby lighthouses.
At night, the two beacons, one flashing and the other fixed, provided another distinguishing characteristic.
Twin Lights holds a prominent place in American maritime history as the site of the first use of the Fresnel Lens. In 1841, two of these revolutionary lighthouse lenses were installed: a "first-order" light in the South Tower and a "second-order" light in the North Tower. Developed by French physicist Augustine Fresnel, they were far superior to any navigational lighting apparatus being used in the United States at that time.
The lenses resembled glass beehives and consisted of a series of prisms that surrounded a central light source. They were classified into seven sizes called orders. Seacoast lights like Twin Lights usually received a first or second order lens. With the installation of these Fresno lenses, Twin Lights became the best coastal lighthouse in America.