Tucked away down a remote road in extreme southwestern New Jersey is the East Point Lighthouse. You’d never know it’s there unless you’re looking for it. Seriously. It’s fairly well hidden.
Okay, so where is it exactly?
It’s located in the small Cumberland County town of Heislerville, NJ. Once you find it, the East Point Lighthouse is hard to miss – it’s visible from the marshes as you approach the Southern Bayshore of the Delaware Bay .
Here's the 30,000 foot view...
And here's a closer look once you're in the area....
And here you are once you are on the road to the Lighthouse...
A bit of history
Built in 1849, the East Point Lighthouse was originally known as the Maurice River Lighthouse (pronounced MOR-is not Mor-EECE) since it was situated at the mouth of the Maurice River. For many years it was known as the Maurice River Lighthouse. It operated as a lighthouse until the early 1900’s. During World War II, the lighthouse was blacked out and eventually decommissioned. Once decommissioned, its condition deteriorated quickly.
In 1955, the Federal Government sold the lighthouse and property, but oops – it forgot to offer it to the State of New Jersey first! New Jersey was interested in the property because of the surrounding Heislerville Wildlife Refuge.
So the State started the process of buying the property, and in 1971 local residents established the Maurice River Historical Society to look after the lighthouse. BUT, before negotiations with the State wrapped up, the lighthouse caught on fire. Eventually, in 2017, the restoration was finally complete.
Height: 40 feet
Area: 4 acres
It’s the second oldest standing lighthouse in New Jersey. What’s the oldest? Sandy Hook Lighthouse - built around 1764.
The East Point Lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places ... as the Maurice River Lighthouse.
What’s there to do?
You're there for the scenery folks, and it's beautiful. In addition to the lighthouse, you’re likely to see sea birds like ospreys on the marshes approaching the lighthouse. Unfortunately, you can't go into the lighthouse right now - it's currently closed. Not because of the pandemic, but due to a labor dispute with the State. Still, it’s worth a visit just for the view.
Fees: No fees to walk around the lighthouse, but there is a donation box.
Parking: No parking lot, but you can park your car along the side of the dirt road that leads to the Lighthouse.
Bathroom situation: There's a port-o-potty just before the lighthouse on the same dirt road where you park your car. While the port-o-potty did have toilet paper when I used it, I took some toilet paper (actually, it was probably napkins or tissues).
Beach: While you're at the beach, there's no sun bathing beach at the lighthouse. That's because there's something called a "geotube" surrounding the Lighthouse that takes up the entire beach. The geotube is intended to stop beach erosion surrounding the Lighthouse. Here's a 2018 article I found in the Press of Atlantic City about the geotube. It's super interesting.
Picnic tables: There are a couple of picnic tables, but there is no "picnic area".