Tucker’s Island was New Jersey’s first seashore resort. In the 1700’s it had a popular tavern, two hotels (the Columbia and the St. Albans) neither of which had electricity or water, many little shacks and a lighthouse. It was sometimes called Sea Haven or Short Beach.
In a fascinating pictorial using photos from the period, authors Gretchen F. Coyle and Deborah Whitcraft told the tale of this unique and popular vacation spot, which eventually eroded into the sea. Dramatic photos showed the day the lighthouse fell into the ocean in Oct. 1927, its Fresnel lens never recovered, presumably sitting under many feet of sand off the lower end of Long Beach Island. As the island continued to erode, the lifesaving station went into the sea five years later.
Tucker’s Island was once located along the New Jersey coast between Great Bay and Little Egg Harbor. Its eight miles were once covered with sand dunes and native foliage. For generations the Rider family kept the lighthouse shining, providing aid to ships in distress, but Tuckers Island eventually disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean and in 1932 the island was removed from tax records.
Coyle and Whitcraft are maritime historians and popular speakers about New Jersey’s illustrious maritime history. This is their second book about New Jersey’s maritime history. The first was Inferno at Sea: Stories of Death and Survival aboard the Morro Castle. A third book about Beach Haven has just been published.
Coyle is a graduate of The Baldwin School and Hollins University. She is a past president of the Long Beach Island Historical Association and the Tuckerton Seaport Board of Trustees. Whitcraft is a former owner of Triton Divers and the Black Whale fleet of passenger boats on Long Beach Island. She served two terms as mayor of Beach Haven, and is the president and founder of the New Jersey Maritime Museum there, where her collection of artifacts, documents and photographs of New Jersey maritime history, forty years in the making, is on display.