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A Guide To Its Present And Past
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of New Jersey
American Guide Series

Originally published in 1939
Some of this information may no longer be current and in that case is presented for historical interest only.

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Tour 30
Point Pleasant-Seaside Heights-Lakehurst; State 37.

Point Pleasant-Seaside Heights-Lakehurst; State 37.
Point Pleasant to Lakehurst, 24.3 m.
The road is paralleled by the Pennsylvania R.R. between Bay Head and Seaside Heights, and by the Jersey Central R.R. between Pine View and Lakehurst.
Hotels in towns; tourist and trailer camps along route.
Two-lane concrete roadbed except for 1 m. of tar and gravel.

State 37 runs along a narrow peninsula that separates Barnegat Bay from Atlantic Ocean. Both the bay and the ocean are visible through breaks in the green-covered sand dunes. The peninsula forms an attractive summer-resort area, with excellent fishing and swimming facilities. Many yachts, launches, and sailboats are tied up at wharves and bulkheads, or anchored in Barnegat Bay. Turning west, State 37 crosses the bay on a causeway and loops back inland, penetrating the sandy, scrub pine belt that covers a large area along the coast.

State 37 forms a junction with State 35 (see Tour 22) at POINT PLEASANT, 0 m. (12 alt., 2,058 pop.) (see Tour 22).

BAY HEAD, 1.1 m. (10 alt., 500 winter pop., 6,000 summer pop.), the northernmost and largest of a series of small summer resorts on the peninsula, lies at the head of Barnegat Bay. This is the starting point for the popular sailing and motorboat races that take place on the bay each Satrday and on Labor Day. Houses in the sand dunes on both sides of the road are of weather-beaten, brown-stained shingle for the most part. Along the ocean front are large and attractive modern homes built on the edge of a bulkhead, just above the wave-lashed beach. A narrow ocean-front boardwalk without rails stretches the whole length of the town. Facing the bay are large estates with private docks. The community was founded as a real estate development in 1879.

MANTOLOKING (Indian, frog ground), 3.5 m. (10 alt., 250 winter pop., 1,000 summer pop.), founded in 1878 by real estate promoters, has many wealthy summer residents. Along the lower edge of the town weathered shingle houses with varicolored shutters face the bay and ocean. Since no lawn will flourish in the sand, topsoil must be imported, or a rectangle of yellow gravel must be substituted for a lawn. Near a causeway crossing the bay (R) is a prosperous shipbuilding yard. The town has the largest fleet of 15-footers in the Barnegat Racing Association.

Every morning of the year at about 3 o'clock large fishing boats, manned chiefly by Scandinavians, set out for the nets about 1.5 miles offshore. The catch, which may contain everything from tuna and an occasional sword- fish to bluefish and weakfish, is brought in about five hours later. The boats are pulled out of the water by a block and tackle over an A-frame, with the aid of a team of horses.

CHADWICKS, 6.7 m. (10 alt.), the oldest community on the peninsula (1830), consists of a scant half-dozen old houses. At an INN (R) boats and sailing instruction are available. The town bears the name of its founder, who built a large house to entertain his friends. Along the sand dunes on both sides of the highway the huge fishing nets of the Chadwicks fisheries are stretched to dry before being mended.

Bayberry and sedge are everywhere. Where marshland lies close to the road on the bay side, tall cattails bend in the strong ocean breeze that keeps the peninsula cool on the hottest days. There is no long stretch of empty ground; old homes, dilapidated shacks, and even tents are used by summer visitors.

LAVALLETTE, 8 m. (10 alt., 300 winter pop., 3,000 summer pop.), noted its 50th anniversary in 1937. This village, named for Admiral Lavallette of the U. S. Navy, has little to distinguish it from other peninsular resorts except a new tan brick BOROUGH HALL (R).

ORTLEY, 9 m. (10 alt.), named for Mitchell Ortley who settled here in 1818, has a few houses, hidden behind the sand dunes. Ortley spent much money on building an inlet here which would enable vessels to avoid the long trip south to Barnegat Inlet and would bring a good income from toll. After four years of digging, Ortley and his workmen celebrated the opening of the channel. When heads had cleared the next day, the canal had vanished. The running tide, instead of deepening the channel, had entirely filled it.

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, 10.3 m. (10 alt., 500 winter pop., 3,000 summer pop.), is differentiated from nearby towns by its block of stores and its Coney Island type of amusement concessions.

Along the boardwalk that runs S. of this point 4 miles to Seaside Park, the southernmost community on the peninsula, is every kind of amusement and catchpenny device found in larger recreational centers.

At 10.3 m. is a junction, State 37 turning R. to cross Barnegat Bay. Left (straight ahead) across the sand where CRANBERRY INLET flowed more than a century ago. During the Revolution this vanished channel was used by whaleboat men and small privateers who preyed upon the supply boats of the British forces in New York. Many prize ships were brought through Cranberry Inlet into Toms River, where their cargoes and even the ships themselves were sold. The inlet was named for the meadows on both sides, covered with wild cranberries that the sailors gathered for the prevention of scurvy.

BERKELEY, 0.9 m., and SEASIDE PARK, 1.4 m., are the residential districts of the more commercial Seaside Heights. Seaside Park has a few hotels and a yacht club with a well-appointed clubhouse. On the bay shore is the Pennsylvania R.R. bridge to the mainland.

South of Seaside Park there is no improved road through the sands of ISLAND BEACH, 8 miles of perfect beach and grassy sand dunes extending to the north shore of Barnegat Inlet. During the Revolution, John Bacon and his notorious Barnegat pirates held this beach as their base. Bacon was shot by a band of patriots in a tavern near West Creek in 1783. Cranberry Inlet made this stretch of beach an island, which accounts for the name.

State 37 passes over part of Barnegat Bay and the Inland Waterway on a wooden bridge to PELICAN ISLAND, 10.9 m., no more than a city block wide. From Pelican Island a fill, 1 mile long with a wooden drawbridge, leads to the mainland. At the end of the bridge are many fish markets, clam bars, and overnight places for fishermen. A short distance L. of the bridge in the meadows on the shore where Toms River flows into Barnegat Bay were the first of the famous Toms RIVER SALT WORKS (see Tour 18).

BAYSHORE, 12.5 m., is a community of a few houses, fishing headquarters, and sea food restaurants.

GILFORD PARK, 13.5 m., was founded by Thomas Gilford, a wealthy New York broker. The first man to agitate for a bridge across Barnegat Bay, Gilford lived to see his idea realized.

At 15.3 m. a large, electrically lighted arrow marks a graveled road. Left on this road is ISLAND HEIGHTS, 0.5 m. (40 alt., 453 pop.), a Bamegat Bay summer resort patronized chiefly by Philadelphia families. Unlike any other settlement in this region, it is built on a high bluff. The town is a survival of one of the many Methodist camp meeting settlements founded in New Jersey in the period following the Civil War. A summer camp of the Girls Friendly Society is here, as well as a camp for employees of the John Wanamaker department stores.

West of Gilford Park are small truck farms and several large poultry farms. The road rolls over low hills of the scrub-pine country, broken intermittently by patches of cultivated ground and frame farmhouses.

At 17.3 m. is the junction with US 9 (see Tour 18).

Between the junction with US 9 and Lakehurst the dreary pine barrens, with clumps of tight brush, form dark green curtains on both sides of the road. Sometimes bright pink and white patches of laurel spot the otherwise solid stretch, or a small truck farm breaks the wall of stunted trees. Back from the road are wood swamps, with an occasional cranberry bog.

At 24.3 m. is the junction with State 40 (see Tour 27) at LAKEHURST (79 alt., 947 pop.) (see Tour 27).

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