Photo from National Archives
There is some evidence that a lighthouse near the mouth of
the Cohansey Creek in 1816, but to date, no drawings or
depictions of it have been found. It is not known who
constructed the lighthouse, or maintained it. An
appropriations of $1,000 to purchase additional land for
the site at this station was made by the act approved
August 7, 1882. The ten acres selected were purchased and
the title-papers were approved January 24, 1883. Plans for
the new structure were made, and the building is now under
contract.The first lighthouse built by the Lighthouse
Service was constructed in 1838 and described as being
built near the mouth of the Cohansey Creek at " 39° 20'
19" north latitude and 75° 21' 38" west longitude,
Cumberland County, New Jersey." "The light is exhibited
from lantern on top of dwelling, and illuminated 270° of
the horizon; it is of the 5th order, fixed white, and is
45 feet above mean high water." An 1838 report by William
D. Porter, Lieutenant, U.S.N., describes the lighthouse
Cohansey light.–Light on keeper's dwelling; burns eleven
lamps with spherical reflectors. The house badly built;
walls crumbling; cistern leaks. Badly kept.
No photographs of the lighthouse are known to exist, but
two engravings by W. H. Rease of Philadelphia, exist and
were reproduced in the Spring, 1973 issue of South Jersey
Magazine. On October 23, 1879 a storm damaged the
lighthouse so badly that a the process of replacing it
began. In the meantime emergency repairs were made to the
existing lighthouse to make it habitable.
By 1883, the new Cohansey Lighthouse was completed and the
remains of the 1838 lighthouse were sold for salvage. It
was constructed at 39° 20' 33" north latitude by 75° 21'
44" west longitude. The lighthouse was a white frame
structure with green shutters, topped by a black square
tower. The lighthouse contained 6 rooms. Water was
supplied from four storage tanks, two of iron and two of
wood) which collected rain water from the roof. The
lighthouse was constructed upon wooden beams which rested
upon cast iron piles. It was equipped with a 5th order
Fresnel lens built by L. Sautter & Cie, of Paris,
France. It's light showed 42 feet above mean high water.
The 1883 lighthouse was destroyed by a mysterious fire on
July 21, 1933.