Twin Lights to Celebrate the Ultimate ‘High Five’

Highlands, NJ —  A good statistician can make numbers say almost anything. However, some numbers simply speak for themselves. This August, the Twin Lights National Historic Site will welcome its five millionth visitor. The site officially opened to the public 55 years ago, and since then the breathtaking view, unique architecture—and the chance to scale the historic North Tower—has consistently drawn around 100,000 people a year. 

When will the lucky 5 Millionth Visitor arrive? 


1908 visitors:  As this old postcard shows, long before the official count started, the Twin Lights served as a beacon for local tourism.


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Sunday, August 7th…which also happens to be National Lighthouse Day. In fact, every visitor to the Twin Lights that day will be feted as the “five millionth”—with a commemorative certificate, free one-year Twin Light Historical Society membership, instant discount at the Museum Gift Shop, and lighthouse goody bags for kids. 

“It was the only fair way to do it,” explains Mary Jo Kenny, President of the Twin Light Historical Society. “We have good record-keeping going back to the 1970s, but prior to that there was a lot of ‘rounding off.’” 

In doing the math, initially, it looked as if 2009 or 2010 might be the celebration year, but construction of the new Highlands Bridge—which is now complete—reduced attendance significantly. The main access point to the Twin Lights is located a few hundred yards from the entrance to the beaches at Sandy Hook. 

“I am pleased to report that our visits should be back to pre-construction levels this summer,” says Kenny, who adds that the Twin Lights “has long been a place of reflection and discovery. In talking to visitors, I realize that often it is both.”


1920 visitors:  The Twin Lights Mystery cannon may be the most photographed cannon in the state.

Indeed, many who come to take in the panoramic vista of Sandy Hook Bay and Lower Manhattan soon learn that they are standing in a place that connects millions of Americans. The Twin Lights was an important jumping-off point for the science of optics, wireless communications and radar—as well as the place where the Pledge of Allegiance was given as our National Oath for the first time.

“In the years following the attacks of September 11, there was a dramatic surge of visitors to the Twin Lights,” says Margaret Carlsen, Curator of the Twin Lights Museum. “I sense that this place helped people gain perspective on that terrible event in a lot of ways.”


1979 visitors: Members of the Rumson Garden Club pay a visit in the 1979.  Much of the landscaping you see today was part of an ambitious club project in the early 1970’s.

The Twin Lights has been a state park since 1962. The current structure was complete in 1862. Next year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Twin Lights. 

Admission is free.  Visitors can climb to the top of the North Tower, which offers panoramic views of New York Harbor, Sandy Hook Bay and the Two Rivers area.

For more information contact Margaret Carlsen, Curator Twin Lights Historic Site at 732.872.1814.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...