Manasquan: Jersey Shore Eiffel Tower, Long History of Life Saving Stations (People & Boats)


Manasquan's beach and the Jersey Shore "Eiffel Tower". All photos by R.C. Staab

It's clear sailing to stay within a block of the ocean as you walk or bike from the northern tip of the Jersey Shore at Sandy Hook until you reach Manasquan and the Manasquan River Inlet. There's no easy way around the winding river to reach Point Pleasant Beach on the other side. The Inlet is a great spot to stop, reflect.


The Manasquan River has tributaries to the north that divide Manasquan in half. Near Route 71, the town is a residential beach community with a vibrant business district along Main Street. Much like other nearby beach towns to its north, single family homes with small lawns line the streets. But crossing two small bridges over Main Street or Ocean Avenue to the east, the beach area resembles a seasonal beach community with houses and apartments tightly packed together and a chaotic parking situation.


The fragility of beach development at the Jersey Shore is in plain view along Manasquan Beach. There are no retaining walls or dunes that separate the ocean from stacked houses sitting a few feet away from the promenade. There is some fencing, but across the flat sandy beach the ocean is perilously close.


Jersey Shore's "Eiffel Tower"

A 350-foot communications tower hovers over Manasquan. When it was constructed in 2003 to replace a smaller tower, a resident was quoted in the local paper: "Why go to Paris when the Eiffel Tower in in our own back yard?" The tower is at Ocean and First Avenues is part of the Manasquan Coast Guard Station.



Life Saving Service Station & Today's Coast Guard

Before there was the United States Coast Guard, there was the United States Life-Saving Service. In 1848, NJ Congressman William Newell advocated for a law to establish eight unmanned lifesaving stations from Sandy Hook to Long Beach Island to provide "surf boat, rockets, carronades and other necessary apparatus for the better preservation of life and property from shipwreck". This was typically after the ships had wrecked. Squan or Manasquan was one of the original sites with a station (really a large boat house) constructed in 1856.


Later, the original structure was replaced and replaced again in 1902. That building is still there today on First Avenue only a block or two from the ocean hoping to re-open with the efforts of a group of volunteers -- the Squan Beach Life Saving Station Preservation Committee


From 1871 through 1914, the Service aided 28,121 vessels, and rescued or aided 178,741 persons. It's unofficial motto: “Remember, you have to go out, but nothing says you have to come back.”


From 1902 to 1996, the station was used by the Service and then by Coast Guard as an electronic shop. It was decommissioned in 1996 and sold to the borough for $1.00.

 
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Today's Coast Guard Station is manned by a crew of 30 full-time men and women, supported by Flotillas of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The focus now is saving people before the "ship wrecks." The station’s area of responsibility is from Spring Lake to Seaside Heights, from the Manasquan River entrance to Toms River, all of Barnegat Bay and up to 48 miles offshore. The Manasquan Inlet also is the northern terminus of the Intracoastal Waterway which means that on any summer weekend as many as 1600 boats may pass through it. They respond to about 600 search and rescue cases a year. The main station building is in Point Pleasant Beach along the inlet.


Origin of the name Manasquan

The borough's name comes from the Native Lenape People, meaning "Place to Gather Grass or Reeds." People often refer to the town as "Squan" and there are many historical references to the Squan River, not the more formal name Manasquan River. Other towns in or near the Jersey Shore that have Lenape names are Mantoloking and Manahawkin.


Tips for Visiting Manasquan

What's New: The state and the county would like to replace creaky Glimmer Glass Bridge along Fisk Avenue. Monmouth County Commissioners, plus Brielle and Manasquan councils, approved resolutions supporting a plan to replace Glimmer Glass Bridge with a new bridge. Even on its current trajectory, funding for construction of the project isn't slated in statewide planning budgets until 2028.

Access and Parking: With the National Guard Training Center and Stockton Lake to its north and the Manasquan River to its south, there is limited direct access to the Manasquan Beach. From Route 71, most people take Main Street through the commercial district to the beach. The other option is Fisk Avenue across the creaky Glimmer Glass Bridge which opens regularly for boat traffic. At the residential area away from the beach and in the commercial district, the parking is free. Near the beach, there is very limited parking. There are several municipal lots for daily parking. Pay on site only.

Amenities: There are restrooms along the boardwalk.

Beaches: Beach badges are required weekends beginning May 27. Badges are required daily from June 19 through September 6. Daily beach badges for people 12 and older are $10 and can be purchased at the beach. Weekly beach badges for people 12 and older are $45. Seasonal beach badges are $85 for people 17-64, $30 for people aged 65 and over and $40 for people 12-16 and can be purchased through Community Pass.

Follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he recounts his 2021 walk of every beach along the 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Read all updated stories at www.JerseyShoreWalk.com.

 

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