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Waackaack, NJ  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Waackaack Lighthouse

1852 – In 1850 an appropriation was made for erecting two beacon-lights near Fort Hamilton, New York, to serve as a range for the main channel. In 1851 the appropriation for this purpose was increased to six thousand dollars. Sites were selected by officers of the coast survey, and efforts were made to purchase the necessary land for the one to be placed near the beach, without success. The other was to have been located on the land belonging to the United States in the rear of the fort. After renewed efforts by the Light-house Board, without success, to procure the necessary land for placing the beacons, it determined to recommend that the appropriation be made applicable to the erection of two beacons on the New Jersey shore, at the other extremity of the range, as they will there answer the purpose contemplated as a back range. The coast survey chart of New York bay accompanying this report will show the practicability of this plan, and also the advantages arising from the placing of the other beacons authorized to be built by act of 31st August, 1852.

1852 - And be it further enacted, That the sum of $30,000, appropriated by the act approved March 3d, 1851, for the erection of a light-house on Flynn’s Knoll, be, and the same is hereby, authorized to be applied to the erection of two-range beacon lights, for Gedney's Channel, to be placed near Point Comfort, in the State of New Jersey; and two-range beacon lights for the Swash channel of the harbor of New York, to be placed on Staten Island, near the Elm Tree beacon, and to be constructed under the direction of the Topographical Bureau, and according to the recommendation of the Light House Board and the Superintendent of the Coast Survey; and for a large iron floating bell beacon, to be moored off Flynn's Knoll, under the direction of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey. Authorized by act of Congress, August 31, 1852, $30,000.

1853 – The sites for the light-house at Point au Roche; two beacon lights near Point Comfort, New Jersey; two beacon lights to mark the main channel in New York bay; and two beacons on Staten Island, to serve as range lights for the Swash channel, New York bay, have been selected, the land purchased, and the deeds for the same are in the hands of the district attorney; cessions of jurisdiction over the sites having been obtained from the respective State legislatures. The work at these several places will be commenced so soon as the deeds for the sites are received and approved by the Attorney General, in conformity to law.

1855 – Range beacon-lights for entering the harbor of New York, and guiding vessels to the Narrows.—Of these ranges there are three: one to guide vessels through the Swash channel, another through Gedney's channel to Southwest spit, and the third to guide vessels to and from the Narrows, requiring the construction of six light-houses, with three separate keepers’ dwellings, four of which are located in New Jersey and the other two on Staten Island. In accordance with the plans furnished for these by the Light-house Board in April last, a contract, dated June 11, 1855, was entered into with Richard Calrow, jr., of the city of New York, for the construction of these six range light beacons at the stipulated price of $19,124 for the whole, which included the construction of nine separate buildings in all, viz: Three hexagonal towers, three keepers' dwellings, with light-turret in the center, and three separate keepers' dwellings, all of wood, upon foundations of brick laid in cement. The work to be completed on the 25th October, 1855.
At this time the buildings for the Swash range are nearly ready for occupancy and lighting, and the completion of all the others is expected during the month of October present. The amount of appropriation on hand for these structures is estimated to be sufficient to cover the cost of construction, and also of cisterns, wells, and the contingent expenses of surveying and superintendence.

1856 - Six range-lights for the Gedney, Main, and Swash channels, in the lower bay of New York, have been completed, and the lights will be exhibited on the first of November instant.

1858 – A new dwelling has been built at Waackaack light, one of the Gedney's Channel beacons, in place of the one destroyed by fire in the spring.

1868 – Waackaack beacon.—Repairs will be made to the cistern and cistern pump, to the steps to the entrance to the hall and kitchen, and to the copper on the lantern deck, when the station will be in good order.

1869 – Waackaack, New York Bay.—A stoop to the front door has been put up and some slight repairs made to the dwelling. The station is in good condition.

1876 – Waackaack, Gedney's Channel range, Raritan Bay, New Jersey.— On inspection this beacon was found to be very unsafe. The heavy sill-timber and most of the joist of the lower section were badly decayed, and repairs were therefore immediately necessary. They were commenced at once, and completed during the early part of June. The tower has been thoroughly braced by wooden truss-braces, and new sills and joist put in.

1886 – Waackaack Station, New York Bay, New Jersey.—The tower, which is 68 feet high, stands on the beach near Waackaack. The keeper reports a shock on August 10, at 2.10 p. m., about 50 seconds in length, accompanied by heavy rumbling noise. He styles it moderate in force, and states that he was standing at the time on a sandy loam and that a tremor would best describe the motion.

1888 – Waackaack (Wilson's), near Waackaack Beach, New Jersey.—Some 1,401 feet of wire fence were built; gates were made and the posts were capped with heavy spruce rail. Various minor repairs were made.

1889 – Waackaack, New Jersey—Old Orchard Shoal, Princess Bay, New York.—The tonnage passing through Princess Bay has materially increased since the erection of the railroad bridge across Staten Island Sound. When the sound is closed by ice, it is stated that 15,000 tons of shipping per day pass through this bay. All this shipping would be benefited by the establishment of a light and fog-signal at this point. The large tows rounding Orchard Shoal are obliged to hug the shore of Staten Island as closely as possible, and they use the inner channel between the west bank and Staten Island. This channel is quite narrow. Recently a lighted buoy was placed to mark the point of Old Orchard Shoal, and a bell-buoy was placed alongside of the neighboring spar-buoy. The quantity of commerce passing through by this route makes it needful that a light with a fog-signal be placed on Old Orchard Shoal, so that it will form a range with Waackaack light to guide through the inner channel and clear of the shoal. It is proposed to establish the point going to the westward and to take it up in approaching, and to clearly mark the edge of Old Orchard Shoal. The light thus arranged would form a serviceable guide for entering or leading the channel into the bay. The present light at Waackaack is too low to form the proposed range and to define the inshore channel. It is therefore proposed to raise the tower from which it is shown to the necessary height. It is estimated that the establishment of the light and fog-signal on Old Orchard Shoal will cost $40,000, and that the raising of the tower and wall will cost $20,000; it is therefore recommended that an appropriation of $60,000 be made for these purposes. These works were authorized by the act of March 2, 1889, but no appropriation was made to provide the necessary funds.

1891 – Waackaack (rear), New Jersey.—The preliminary levels and surveys were made preparatory to carrying out the provisions made by Congress in the act approved on March 3, 1891, for erecting a new tower at this point.

1892 – Waackaack, New Jersey.—279. Old Orchard Shoal, New York.— An appropriation of $60,000 was made by the sundry civil appropriation act, approved on March 3, 1891, for establishing a light-house and fog signal at or near Old Orchard Shoal, New York, and for building a new tower at Waackaack Light-Station, New Jersey. The work is now well advanced at both stations. But it is now found that it will cost $300 to pay the duty on the lens apparatus for Old Orchard Shoal Light-Station and $1,000 to pay the duty on the lens apparatus for the Waackaack Light-Station. The duty is made necessary by the new tariff act. It is also found that the cost of the removal of the old tower and the building of the foundation for the new tower at Waackaack will be increased 25 per cent in consequence of the eight-hour law. The cost of the services of the superintendent of construction and his traveling expenses in connection with the inspection of the iron work for these towers was not foreseen. The superintendence afterward found necessary was not included in the estimates. It is now deemed wise to provide a contingent fund of $500 to meet any other unforeseen emergency which may arise. These items amount to $4,030. It is therefore recommended that an appropriation of $300 be made for finishing Old Orchard Shoal Light-Station, and that another of $3,730 be made for finishing Waackaack Light-Station. Borings were made to find the nature of the subsoil at Waackaack Light-Station. Plans and specifications were approved and contract was made for a skeleton iron tower, the work on which is well advanced.
Plans and specifications were prepared and contract was made for an iron tower at Old Orchard Shoal Light-Station. It is now in course of erection.

1893 – Waackaack, New York Bay, New Jersey.—The old tower was removed toward and on the range of Point Comfort 52 feet; piers were completed to receive the skeleton iron tower. Various repairs were made.

1894 – From appendix on Chicago Exhibition:
THE LIGHT-HOUSE TOWER.
The tower exhibited was built for use at the Waackaack light-station on New York Bay. The work had been done by contract at Detroit, Mich. As the site was not ready for its erection at the time of its completion, it became possible to exhibit the tower at the Exposition.
The Waackaack light tower is an iron skeleton structure surmounted by a parapet and lantern, accessible from below by a spiral stairway inclosed in an iron cylinder. Its height from base to lantern top is 106 feet and its weight is about 150,000 pounds.
The skeleton structure which rests on eight circular foundation disks, anchored to a concrete foundation, is composed of columns, sockets, struts, and tension rods, forming the frustum of a square pyramid, bounded on the top by an architrave supporting an octagonal gallery, a circular parapet and a decagonal lantern.
The frustum has a base of 28 square feet; its height is 84 feet to the lower face of the architrave, where its sides form a square of 8 feet 8.66 inches on each side.
The contract under which the tower was built provided that —
The wrought iron to be used for the structure must be free from imperfections, and must be capable of bearing a tensile strain of not less than 50,000 pounds per square inch of cross section. All castings must be entirely free from imperfection, such as honeycomb, blowholes, etc.; they must be straight, out of wind, and must have a clean and smooth surface. The iron in the castings must be light gray in color, close grained, and of such quality that a rough bar three-fourth inch square, supported at points 12 inches apart, will break under a load of not less than 930 pounds applied at the center.
The agent of the Light-House Board in charge of the work may test specimens of the iron by straining or breaking, but no piece that has been strained and possibly crippled shall be used in the structure. The tests referred to shall be at the expense of the contractor.
The bolt heads and nuts throughout the structure are to be hexagonal, if not otherwise specified. The screw threads must be sharp and clean and the bolts of proper lengths. The diamond checkering, wherever specified, is to be at an angle of 30 to one side of the plate, the checkers not being longer than 1 1/4 inches. Tin brass must contain not less than 90 per cent of copper; it must have a close texture, and no scrap is to be used in the alloy.
None but the best workmanship will pass inspection.
It was also provided that all portions of the work should be thoroughly inspected at the shops before it was painted, and that the contractor should afford the agent of the Light-House Board every assistance needed in making this inspection.
The contract price was $11,810 for the tower erected in place on its own foundation. The Government is to furnish the illuminating apparatus, the lantern glass, and to prepare the foundation for the reception of the tower.
The tower was visited by many persons, who studied this structure from scientific and mechanical points of view.
As soon as the Exposition was closed, the structure was taken down and its parts were sent to Waackaack, the place where it has since been erected for light-house use.

1894 – Waackaack, New York Buy, New Jersey.—The iron skeleton lighthouse tower was erected and the ironwork necessary to change the lantern to receive the apparatus is now in hand.

1895 – Waackaack (rear), New York Bay, New Jersey.—The tower was completed, and the apparatus for the two ranges was installed, and on October 25,1894, was put into operation. An oil house was built. The first-order lamps were on April 18, 1895, replaced by third-order lamps. Various repairs were made.

1895 – Waackaack (main channel range, rear), New York Bay, New Jersey.— Changed to a new structure, height increased from 76 to 101 ½ feet, and luminous intensity increased by changing to a second-order range lens, October 25, 1894.

1898 – Waackaack, New Jersey.—The light was temporarily discontinued on April 28,1898, as a war measure. Repairs were made.

1900 – Waackaack range beacon, New Jersey.—The present quarters for the light-keepers are inadequate. Recommendation was made in annual reports of 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899, that either an addition to the old dwelling or new quarters be built. The Board is now of opinion that new quarters should be provided. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $3,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1901 – Waackaack Range beacon, New Jersey.—Some 1,600 running feet of four-strand galvanized-iron wire reservation fence was built. The old range lens from the abandoned tower was brought to the general light-house depot. Various repairs were made.
The following recommendation, made in the Board's last annual report, is renewed:
The present quarters for the light-keepers are inadequate. Recommendation was made in annual reports of 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899, that either an addition to the old dwelling or new quarters be built. The Board is now of opinion that new quarters should be provided. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $3,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1902 – Waackaack, New Jersey.— On September 23, 1901, the keeper was authorized to take down the old abandoned tower, without expense to the Government, and to use the old lumber for firewood. The tower was taken down as authorized. Various repairs were made.
The following recommendation, made in the Board's last two annual reports, is renewed:
The present quarters for the light-keepers are inadequate. Recommendation was made in annual reports of 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899, that either an addition to the old dwelling or new quarters be built. The Board is now of opinion Unit new quarters should be provided. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $3,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1903 – Waackaack, New Jersey.—The following recommendation, made in the Board's last three annual reports, is renewed:
The present quarters for the light-keepers are inadequate. Recommendation was made in annual reports of 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899, that either an addition to the old dwelling or new quarters be built. The Board is now of opinion that new quarters should be provided. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $3,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1904 – Waackaack, New Jersey.—The following recommendation, made in the Board's last four annual reports, is renewed:
The present quarters for the light-keepers are inadequate. Recommendation was made in annual reports of 1896, 1897, 1898 and 1890 that either an addition to the old dwelling or new quarters be built. The Board is now of opinion that new quarters should be provided. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding .$3,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1905 – Waackaack, New Jersey.—The following recommendation, made in the Board's last five annual reports, is renewed:
The present quarters for the light-keepers are inadequate. Recommendation was made in annual reports of 1896, 1807, 1898, and 1890 that either an addition to the old dwelling or new quarters be built. The Board is now of opinion that new quarters should be provided. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $3,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1906 – Waackaack, New Jersey.—The following recommendation, made in the Board's last six annual reports, is renewed: The present quarters for the light-keepers are inadequate. Recommendation was made in annual reports of 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899 that either an addition to the old dwelling or new quarters he built. The Board is now of opinion that new quarters should be provided. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $3,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1908 – The act approved February 26, 1907, authorized the establishment of 30 light-keepers' dwellings, at a cost not to exceed $6,500 each.
Under allotments made from the appropriation of $75,000 (act of Mar. 4, 1907) the following-described work has been accomplished:
Waackaack, /V. J.—The preliminary plans have been approved by the board and final plans and specifications are now in course of preparation.

1909 – The balance of the appropriation for light-keepers' dwellings, made by the acts of March 4, 1907, and May 27, 1908, was applied to the construction of dwellings at the following-named light-stations:Waackaack, N. J.

1910 – Funds applied toward the construction of a new dwelling.

1955 – Waackaack Light was discontinued and tower was sold for scrap.

Keepers:

  • Head: Andrew Wilson (1855 – 1858), J.M. Smith (1858 – 1861), George P. Wooley (1861 – 1865), Dan Campbell (1865 – 1874), James T. Chadwick (1874 – 1892), Abram Morris (1892 – at least 1915), August Kjelberg (at least 1917 – 1921), William J. Murray (1920 – 1930).
  • Assistant: Stephen E. Wilson (1894 – at least 1915), Charles A. Bowen (at least 1917).

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