Twin Lights Mystery Cannon

Twin Lights Mystery Cannon (HMEZO)

Location: Highlands, NJ 07732 Monmouth County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 23.779', W 73° 59.134'

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During construction of the present lighthouse in 1861, a cannon was found buried on the grounds. It was placed in front of the keeper's house and for a century was the "mystery" cannon of Twin Lights. There are still unanswered questions about the gun, but this is known.

The cannon is a twelve-pounder ship's cannon of the third quarter, 17th century and of Dutch or Danish manufacture. A comparable specimen, although an eight-pounder, is in the J?jhusmuseet Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark and was recovered from a 1679 Danish shipwreck.

A typical ship's cannon of the era was a flat trajectory weapon with a point blank range of 300 yards, and accurate, effective range of one-half mile. Maximum range was one mile. The muzzle loading cannon used black powder, a mixture of approximately 75 parts potassium nitrate, 15 parts charcoal and 10 parts sulphur by weight. Projectiles fired included shot, hot shot, bombs, chain and bar shot.

The barrel is deeply incised with the markings "1756 ? xx ? ? J * LOPEZ." The date and name led to speculation the gun was a "pirate's" cannon. Subsequent research disproved such fanciful visions of buccaneers raiding in Sandy Hook Bay.

Joseph Lopez was keeper of Twin Lights Lighthouse when the cannon was dug up. Obviously, he inscribed his name on the barrel. In doing so, Lopez may have shed light on still another mystery. The first lighthouse at the Highlands was noted in Samuel Smith's book The History of New Jersey published in 1765. He wrote "At the Highlands of Navesink, the New York Merchants have lately erected a commodious lighthouse for the security of navigation." Did "lately erect" mean 1756, the date Keeper Lopez cut into the cannon?

During the Revolution War, Sandy Hook was occupied by British and Loyalist troops. Wartime reports mentioned the lighthouse at Highlands for in 1776 it was noted that two Loyalists "found means to pass the Guard at the Highlands near the lighthouse." Was the Twin Lights mystery cannon part of the defenses at Highlands?

Or was it a signal cannon fired at regular intervals in foggy weather to warn ships that they were approaching the shore? In 1909, author Thomas Leonard was told the "old field piece was cast in Spain, and used by the colonists as a signal gun."

Pirate gun. Signal cannon. Defense weapon. It's purpose at Twin Lights is still unknown.
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 1:41am PDT -07:00
Photo Credits: [1] BRIDGER1963  [2] BRIDGER1963  [3] BRIDGER1963  
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 586089 N 4472239
Decimal Degrees40.39631667, -73.98556667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 23.779', W 73° 59.134'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 23' 46.74" N, 73° 59' 8.04" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)732
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 5915 Light House Rd, Highlands NJ 07732, US
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