Long Beach Island is an 18 mile long barrier island that is located along the central coast of New Jersey in Southern Ocean County. It lies about 4 to 6 miles out from the mainland and is an important part of the East Coast’s Intercoastal Waterway. Because of its length and white sandy beaches, the Island has been called Long Beach since the earliest days of European exploration.
Captain Cornelius Jacobsen May (some sources spell it “Mey”) was a Dutch explorer and tradesman. In 1614, he traveled down the coast of New Jersey from New Amsterdam (New York). As he reached the northern end of the island known as Long Beach, he noted the rough waters and dangerous shoals uniquely marking the inlet to the bay. He named the inlet “Barendegat”, which translates as Inlet of the Breakers. Today, the inlet, the bay and the township of Barnegat share the Anglo version of the name.
The Captain is also responsible for naming Cape May, the southern tip of the Jersey coast. Cape May County and Mays Landing were also named after him.
Once upon a time, the only way to reach Long Beach Island was by boat. Many people from Philadelphia and New York would take the train to either Edge Cove or Tom’s River and ferry across to LBI.
A railroad bridge was constructed across the bay in 1886 and made the Island more accessible. The trestle was destroyed by a storm, but not before an automobile causeway was built. Today, the Causeway is the way most people reach Long Beach Island and the only way onto the island without a boat.
Long Beach Island is home to over twenty separate communities; some are independent boroughs, while others fall under the jurisdiction of Long Beach Township. A few of these areas grew up around the Life Saving Stations situated on the beach. Beach Haven and Barnegat Light were planned and developed as resort towns, and other communities were founded simply to provide a restful and quiet area to vacation.
To learn more about the Long Beach Island History, visit http://lbi.net/lbihistory/