The earliest known inhabitants of the Barnegat
area were members of the Lenni Lenape tribe. They
would come to the coast each spring to fish, hunt,
and gather food in preparation for an inland winter.
As more and more European settlers arrived, these
Native American expeditions lessened and eventually
tribal members were relocated to reservations. The
name “Barnegat” was derived from the
name given to Barnegat Inlet by early 17th century
Dutch explorers. The Barnegat Bay proved to a lifeline
for the Barnegat community is the centuries to come.
Early means of survival included the bay (clams,
oysters, fish), hunting, and subsistence farming.
The whaling industry developed, as did the building
of whaling boats. Barnegat became a major port after
the Revolution. For most of the 19th century, Barnegat
was a thriving village due to natural resources,
shipping, and shipbuilding. The 1850 census listed
shipbuilding as the leading mechanical business.
However, as top quality lumber began to be depleted,
shipbuilding waned. Many sea captains chose to settle
in Barnegat and brought new wealth to the community
as they prospered during the Civil War. After the
war, Barnegat became a popular summer resort with
several large inns, two railroad stations and an
end of century department store.
In the early 1900s, Barnegat was a thriving community.
The Barnegat Glass Company was the only glass factory
ever operated in Ocean County. It made green glass
bottles and brought many workers to the area until
it closed in 1914.Another flourishing business was
the Perrine Sneakbox building business. Other industry
included a sawmill, tannery, short lived silkworm
venture, and the export of salt hay, moss, peat,
huckleberries and cranberries.
The greatest growth came prior to WWI as Barnegat
became a main railroad terminal for the Tuckerton,
Jersey Central, and NY railroads. The next building
boom occurred in the late 60s and early 70s when
developers noticed the potential of the area. Barnegat
is still a rapidly growing community. This growth
is balanced with a deep commitment to historic preservation
and protection of natural resources including the
Barnegat Bay where this story began..
is a 33.62 square mile land area in central New
is best described as lying in the south-central
coastal portion of Ocean County, adjoining Barnegat
Bay. Barnegat Township shares boundaries with the
Ocean County municipalities of Lacy, Ocean, Long
Beach, Harvey Cedars and Stafford; and Woodland
in Burlington County.
township originally developed along the Route 9/Bay
Avenue axis, which is presently designated the historic
district with preservation restrictions. Within
this district are parks, antique stores, gift shops
and boutiques, restaurants and museums.
Other housing spread out from this area,
with a large number of developments going up since
the seventies, mostly concentrated in the eastern
half of the township. An additional 6.2 miles of
frontage on Barnegat Bay offer a public dock and
boardwalk, boat launching facilities, crabbing and
fishing, plus a bay-bathing beach.
Township is entirely within the Outer Coastal Plains,
consisting of Pine Barrens forests of predominately
pitch pines and various black and white oaks in
the higher regions, and white cedar along the streams.
Because of the environmental importance of the fresh
and tidal waters and the wildlife in the Pinelands
and coastal area, Barnegat Township comes under
the State Plan, which sets limits on land use and
construction. The Pinelands Protection Act of 1979,
administrated by the
New Jersey Pinelands Commission
regulates all forms of construction in the Pinelands
Protection area, which includes all of Barnegat
west of the Garden State Parkway. Protection of
the Pinelands is further promoted by the Pinelands
Alliance, an influential citizen's group, which
periodically meets in Barnegat Township. The tidal
wetlands, which extend from Route 9 to Barnegat
Bay, are regulated by the New
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection,
with the exception of those areas that are under
the federal jurisdiction of the Edwin B. Forsythe
National Wildlife Refuge.
Barnegat has been a rural community, depending on
the sea and the bay for the income of its residents.
Currently, there are no dominant types of
business or industry in the township.
It has changed into a community of working
people whose occupations lie predominantly outside
of the area.
Retired people are also attracted to Barnegat’s
coastal residential environment, and in the last
twenty years this population has further increased
with new senior developments. Most of the businesses
and a few professional offices are situated along
Route 9 and along Bay Avenue in the eastern part
of town. Eighty
five percent of the taxable township property is
residential while seven percent is commercial.
Barnegat Village Square, a 67,000 square
foot shopping area, which includes a Genuardi’s
Supermarket and a Burger King, with small shops
and restaurants in the mall, was completed in 1999. There is an A&P Shopping mall on Route 9 North and Gunning
River Mall is on West Bay Avenue.
Most extensive shopping is done outside of
Barnegat, as it does not have a primary shopping
historic downtown area has small, predominantly antique
There are a few marinas in the bay area.
Other businesses reflect the needs of commuting,
home-centered residents. The western end of the township
has a few businesses which are located along Route
are three major arteries in Barnegat Township.
The Garden State Parkway is the major north-south
highway, and carries a large number of Barnegat
residents to and from their jobs in Toms River and
other areas in the north.
The Barnegat Township interchange (Exit 67)
on the Parkway provides only a southbound exit and
a northbound entrance. The other heavily used north-south
roadway is Route 9, which lies east of the Parkway
and is a two-lane roadway.
Bay Avenue (RT 554) is the major west-east roadway
in the township.
It stretches from Route 72, across the Parkway
to Route 9.
It continues as East Bay Avenue once it crosses
Route 9 and ends along the bay. The library is conveniently
located just off of West Bay Avenue about ¼ mile
from Route 9.
transportation along Route 9 is provided by New
Jersey Transit, extending from Atlantic City
to Lakewood. Barnegat Township is also served by
“Ocean Ride”, a transportation service
funded by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Senior Citizens and customers with disabilities
can ride for a reduced fare.
Ocean County offers Barnegat-Manahawkin Wednesday
Bus Service and “Barn-A-Bus” by appointment.
There is also taxi service in Barnegat Township.
are a variety of organizations in the Township. There are sports leagues for little league baseball, wrestling,
basketball, cheerleading, girls’ softball,
Pop Warner football, etc.
Senior communities have their own clubs and
other senior clubs are the Silverliners and Primetimers.
Veterans’ groups include the VFW and American
is a Garden Club and Women’s Club, Masonic
lodges and the Friends of the Barnegat Library.
Schools have parent/student organizations
and political parties have clubs.
Locate some of these organizations in our
Clubs and Organizations Directory.
administrations have made a strong commitment to
providing recreational programs and facilities for
the township. A recreational director was first
hired in 1982, and in June of 1987, the new Barnegat
Recreation Center was opened at 900 West Bay Avenue.
Its present director is Beverly Neyenhouse. There
are art, dance, sports, and theater programs for
children and teens, and aerobic classes for adults.
The Recreation Department sponsors two senior groups,
the Silverliners and the Primetimers. These groups
meet at the Recreation Center and numerous trips
and activities are provided year-round.
township maintains parks, a public beach and dock,
ball fields, and tennis and basketball courts. A
skateboard/skating park was opened in 1999.
The Township community center offers ping-pong,
billiards, indoor/outdoor shuffleboard, bocce, picnic
area and playground. The Barnegat Recreation Committee
arranges major events annually.
The Fourth of July celebration and Pirate’s
Day (Saturday before Labor Day) are the Township’s
major events. The Memorial Day Parade, Kids Fish
and Krab Kontest, Women’s History Tea (cosponsored
by the Barnegat Library) are highly anticipated
Township parade is held on the Saturday prior to
Halloween. Concerts are held on Sunday evenings
at the dock during the summer.
Historical Society Heritage Center, composed
of four historic buildings on East Bay Avenue, is
open to the public on part-time weekend hours from
mid-June to mid-September. The Society sponsors
an annual flea and craft market, a quilt show and
other events for the community.
most popular daily newspapers in the Barnegat area
Asbury Park Press and the Ocean
The Atlantic City Press is also available
in the area.
Weekly papers include The Beacon which
regularly includes Barnegat news.
Pennysaver weeklies include The Beachcomber,
The Mailbag, and The Sandpaper.
Pennysaver semi-weeklies include The Barnegat
Bay Banner, which lists local events under “Neighborhood
The Forked River Gazzette is delivered
to local businesses and the Barnegat Library.
It contains the library calendar.
The Barnegat Leader is published monthly
and news about the Barnegat Library is in the column
called “The Library Shelf.”
Southern Regional High School runs a cable
television station with news about the school, students,
events and the library’s programs.
Any story ever told about Barnegat must include
the legend of Barnegat Pete. He is the idealization
of the heart and soul of a small town. It just
so happens we were lucky enough to be the town
that lays claim to his story.
On Sunday May 19th 1935 a large forest fire consumed
over 25,000 acres of Barnegat and three surrounding
towns. Patrick Raymond Beckett, while fighting the
fire spotted a small animal hiding under some brush.
Thinking it was a rabbit he picked it up and found
that it was a baby fawn, he wrapped it and brought
it home to safety.
Beckett family kept the fawn as a pet. As it grew,
Barnegat residents made sure it was protected. A
tag was made for around his neck, which read; "This
is Barnegat Pete. Barnegat Children's playmate.
was a familiar sight in downtown Barnegat from 1935-1945.
As a cherished member of the community he indulged
in free ice cream at Brower's Drug store (now the
Hurricane House) and was escorted by State Police
across Rt.9 and Bay Aves.
1945 it was decided Pete should be taken to the
Philadelphia Zoo. Pete's caretakers had grown and
moved on in their lives, but years later, when Mrs.
Beckett visited the zoo and called "Hey Petey"
a deer broke from the pack and put his nose through
the bars on Mrs. Beckett's face.
painting of Barnegat Pete by the late Bill Schulz
is behind our circulation desk. Patrons enjoy it
everyday. If you're lucky we tell a newcomer the
story that epitomizes our town.
Lloyd, Branch Manager