Strathmere: Skinniest Town in SJ. Amazing story of OC Station House Moved By Barge Across Inlet.
Former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Clark DeLeon regular wrote about Strathmere, calling it the "Undisclosed Location." For the entirety of its existence Strathmere has lacked an official identity, because it's never formally existed as a town or borough or city. First, it was part of Sea Isle City and then sold off to Upper Township to pay a debt. Even the water tower has an identity crises (see below).
Be aware that the beach access on the northern end is limited due to beach erosion and steep drop off from the dunes to the beach. Help is supposedly on the way with a federal beach replenishment effort but not until 2023.
Upper Township wouldn't let go of the town or its taxes.
After a lengthy legal battle, in 2010 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled against the town of Strathmere in its quest to secede from Upper Township and re-join Sea Isle City. Where once the township didn't receive much benefit from the land from a tax standpoint, the value of the land has increased and so have the township's coffers.
Strathmere residents had argued they were being neglected by the township. Despite 83 percent of the registered voters in the Strathmere area signing a petition to secede and launching a legal suit, the township fought back. In 2010 along, the township projected that it would lose 17.5 percent of its $2.4 billion tax base if Strathmere left. Additionally, $4 million would be lost annually in township school taxes.
Former Life-Saving Service Stations now private homes
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".
By 1878, the volunteer life-saving role was assumed by a new federal agency, the Life-Saving Service, which refurbished, replaced or built 40-plus stations from Sandy Hook to Cape May and many more along the nation's coastlines. By 1915, the Coast Guard was created and subsumed the Service.
Several Life-Saving Service Stations were built in Ocean City including one at the northern end of Corson's Inlet in 1899. In 1924, the Coast Guard decided that the Corson's Inlet station would be better situated on the south side of the inlet, so they moved the entire building by barge to its current site in Strathmere on Bay Avenue. In 1964 it was closed and sold to a private owner. That home, still on Bayview Drive, is pictured above.
In moving the station house by barge in 1924, the Coast Guard had to detach the boathouse that was part of the station. Instead of keeping re-attaching the boathouse, the plunked the boathouse on the Bay across Bayview Avenue from the station. Like the station house, it was sold to a private owner 1964 who still essentially uses it as a boathouse. Both structures are plainly visible on Bayview Avenue.
From 1871 through 1914, the Life-Saving 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.”
Barely a block wide at some points
Like Sea Bright and Bay Head on the northern Shore, Strathmere is so skinny that the ocean nearly meets the bay for more than half of the length of the town. Standing at the high point of a walkway over the critically needed, rebuilt sand dunes, you can see easily both the ocean and the Strathmere Bay.
Because of the width of the city, the telephone/electric poles along the Commonwealth area are a defining feature of the city much like they are in Sea Bright.
Concerns about crowds and noise in Strathmere section
Unlike the park beach across the inlet, the Strathmere Natural Area of the park allows boaters to moor right off shore. Even on a weekday in the summer, there are boats, jet skis, kayaks and canoes whizzing back and forth among families wading and swimming at the calming bayside/inlet beach.
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How Strathmere got its name
At the turn of the 20th century, Sea Isle City owned all of the island of which it is now only a part. To pay off a municipal debt in 1905, Sea Isle City sold the land known as Strathmere for $31,500 to Upper Township. In 1912, based on a local naming contest, the community of Corsons Inlet was renamed Strathmere. There are different variations of what the name means. According to Wikipedia, Strathmere is named after the whales that would periodically beach themselves there. According to theshoreblog.com, Strathmere means "strand by the sea."
Tips for visiting Strathmere/Upper Township
What's New: At The Deauville Inn, residents have been complaining about increased noise since the restaurant was purchased by new owners, refurbished and additional outdoor space added. The Inn's liquor license was recently renewed after a lengthy public hearing before the Township Committee.
Access and Parking: From Ocean City, take Bay Avenue across the bridge to Strathmere. From Sea Isle City, follow Landis Avenue which turns into Commonwealth Avenue, the main street of Strathmere. Parking is free. People often park right along Commonwealth Avenue at the beach. Read the signs carefully, and don't block people's driveways.
Amenities: There are portable toilets near the beach at several crossovers from the road.
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.