Photo of the Week...
The dawn of leisure at the Jersey Shore, Sandy Hook, N.J.
The Story of Highland Beach and
William Sandlass Finds a Home
An exhibit recently opened at the Twin Lights Museum in Highlands, New Jersey, that is new in many ways. Within an exhibit space that was completely renovated in 2016, curator Joanne Sutton and board member Mark Stewart, with a little help from new board member Jeff Tyler of JCHM, have created a handsome, modern look that has something for everyone. Its four galleries now share a broader story of the New Jersey Shore, as witnessed from this site - the highest land mass on the eastern seaboard, that happens to overlook New York harbor and Sandy Hook!!
The ribbon cutting on April 25th, coincided with the first reading of the Pledge of Allegiance, which occurred at the Twin Lights of Navesink in 1893. There have been so many firsts here… the first lighthouse to use a Fresnel lens, Marconi’s first wireless transmission, and Highland Beach, the first and only excursion resort on the New Jersey Shore to offer both ocean and river bathing.
“Working on this exhibit over the past year has been a fantastic experience", said Mr. Tyler. "I am most excited about the opportunity to expand our understanding of Highland Beach and William Sandlass as we share it with a larger audience. It is not uncommon for a museum to obtain artifacts and knowledge as a result of a visitor connecting the history of something they have seen in the museum to an experience, artifact or image of their own. Highland Beach and William Sandlass are now the first things seen when entering one of the most visited historic sites in Monmouth County (The Twin Lights expects over 75,000 visitors this year), so we have just improved our chances significantly.”
Tyler continues, "Also featured prominently in our gallery is a new video short by JCHM’s own Chris Brenner called 'Now and Then', that uses views from the Twin Lights to present the seventy-plus year history of Highland Beach and Sandlass Baths."
The exhibit is expected to remain in place for at least two years, continually refreshing and expanding upon the themes presented in the four galleries - Local History, Maritime, Technology, Lighthouse. “We are about to add another artifact in our gallery”, said Tyler, “and I expect that the look and content will be continually changing and evolving.”
The JCHM board is planning an event at the Twin Lights Museum for later in the year, to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment. In the meantime, we encourage you to come see for yourself. While there, don’t forget to climb the north tower where you will get a birds-eye-view of our beloved Sandlass House!!
EXHIBIT AT TWIN LIGHTS MUSEUM
HIGHLAND BEACH (Local History) – GALLERY I
Gallery 2 - Maritime
Gallery 3 - Technology
Gallery 4 - Lighthouse
OUT ON THE HOOK
At the turn of the 20th century, the United States was flexing its economic and cultural muscle as a new world power. The country’s ambition and optimism was embodied by its middle class, which had more leisure time and discretionary income than any group in human history. The transformative impact of this exploding demographic was recognized by operators of day-trip amusement parks and resorts.
One of the first places to cater to the diversion-seeking masses was the Highland Beach Excursion Resort, operated by William Sandlass and his family. At its peak, more than 15,000 visitors a day used it as an escape from city life. The resort, which was reachable by train and steamboat, offered a family-friendly “middle ground” between the chaos of Coney Island and opulence of Atlantic City. At Highland Beach, with its swimming, boating, switch-back roller coaster and carousel, there seemed to be no limit to the sun and fun.
At the tip of Sandy Hook, however, was a reminder that the world was also getting smaller. Fort Hancock boasted the nation’s most sophisticated harbor defenses, and later served as a proving ground for some of the world’s most powerful weapons of war.
-- Mark Stewart, Twin Lights Historical Society
YOU can save a historic piece of the by-gone era of the Jersey Shore!!!
Preserve a cultural resource so that this history can remain in the memory of future generations and build community identity.
See History Come Alive!