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Home | About Us | Branches | Tuckerton Branch | Community Profile
Tuckerton Community Profile tuckerton branch

History  

Tuckerton is a small community at the southernmost tip of Ocean County. Fronted by tidal marshes and natural bays along the coast and backed by the Pine Barrens, the area has a rich and varied history.  There is little known of the Paleotithic peoples who were probably the first residents. More archaeological research is needed. Of the later residents, the Lenape Indians, more is known. Mostly hunters and gatherers, they inhabited the shore on a more or less seasonal basis, surviving on fish and shellfish, cranberries, blueberries, and other native fruits, as well as by hunting. Artifacts have been found at one of the shell mounds near Tuckerton, as well as along riverbanks.

The first recorded visit by a European is that of Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who sailed into the harbor now known as Little Egg Harbor in 1614 to supplement the shipboard diet by gathering the eggs of shore birds. Over a period of many years, Europeans began to avail themselves of the natural harbors and abundant farmland. Settlers took advantage of both land and ocean resources, and the first villages began to appear: Parkertown, established in 1721; Little Egg Harbor, established in 1741; Tuckerton, established in 1798 (previously known as Clamtown); and Eagleswood, established in 1874. Tuckerton itself became an important port of entry.  In the Revolutionary War, Tuckerton was a major harbor for captured British ships. The British attempted to take Tuckerton, but were repulsed by 300 men led by Count Pulaski. After the war, imports and exports became brisk business. Timber was felled for ship building, iron was retrieved from the bogs for smelting, a salt works was established, and agriculture became increasingly important. Cranberries, Indian corn, and rye were predominant crops, while fishing, clamming, and hunting continued to thrive. Extensive lumbering depleted the local hardwoods, however.

Early inhabitants were Quakers, but other Protestant groups soon immigrated. The area thrived as a seaport, but the construction of the Erie Canal in 1825 precipitated a decline. According to June LeMunyon, President of the Tuckerton Historical Society, it was after the Civil War that tourism became the new industry. From the 1870's through the 1930's, the area was known primarily for its proximity to seaside resorts.

Flooding and beach erosion diminished the area's importance somewhat. Tucker's Beach, also known as Sea Haven or Short Beach, was one of the earliest resorts on the Jersey Shore, and is now completely under water.

Just prior to World War I, the German government built the Tuckerton Wireless, a 680 feet tall tower with the capability of communicating directly with Europe. The tower was operated by German nationals until the entrance of the United States into the war. Local folklore maintains that the message "Get the Lucy" was broadcast from the tower, which resulted in the famous sinking of the Lusitania. The tower was dismantled in 1950.

Tuckerton, incorporated as a borough in 1901, was the commercial hub of the area.  Route 9 brought many fishermen & day trippers to the area, but 1954 brought the completion of the Garden State Parkway, causing many tourists to bypass Tuckerton. A real estate boom in the 1950’s brought new residents to the area, so many that a new school was needed in the 1970’s, so Pinelands Regional High School was built in 1979. Also in the 1970’s, the Tuckerton Historical Society was established in 1972.  Also in 1979, a fire destroyed store buildings in the center of town, and also the Methodist Church.  The Great Bay ecosystem was incorporated into the Jacques Cousteau National Estaurine Research Reserve, which covers more than 114,000 acres of public, in October, 1997. Research and education for the Mullica River/Great Bay Estuary are the main focus of the reserve.  July 12, 1997 was the groundbreaking for the Tuckerton Seaport, which opened 13 of 26 buildings on May 6, 2000.

Topography

The amount of land area in Tuckerton is 9.468 sq. kilometers. The amount of surface water is .307 sq. kilometers.  Tuckerton is positioned 39.59 degrees north of the equator and 74.32 degrees west of the prime meridian.  The Tuckerton Library is located in a residential neighborhood approximately four blocks (1/2 mile) east of Route 9. Five directional signs placed strategically at various intersections aid residents in locating the library.  The Tuckerton municipality is bordered by Great Bay. A number of the houses in eastern Tuckerton are situated on lagoons. This suggests an interest in water activities and, by implication, an increased summer population.  This community is zoned primarily residential. In Tuckerton, major developments include: Harbor View Apartments (seniors), Paradise Cove, Tuckerton Estates, and Tuckerton Meadows.

Approximately 23 percent of Eagleswood lies within the Pinelands Preservation and Forest Area. Another 15 percent of the township is located within the Edwin B. Forsythe National wildlife Refuge.   The dominating factor in land development in Tuckerton is the tidal marsh. 1,500 acres of marshland in the southeastern portion of the borough are poorly drained and unsuitable for most parts of development, although the land is valuable from a conservationist's perspective. Vacant land accounts for about 63 percent of the borough’s holdings.

Commerce   

The Tuckerton Branch service area covers two Ocean County municipalities. Proximity of the branch to the commercial center in Tuckerton is approximately 1/2 mile, to that of Eagleswood, approximately 4 miles.  Business in these areas is primarily made up of small independent entrepreneurs, involved in areas of the service industry. There are a number of banks, restaurants, craft shops, and realtors serving the area. The majority of local companies are related to the building and construction industries, as well as to the boating and fishing industries.  Perhaps due to the proximity of the area to the Bay, all types of boating and fishing businesses are available to residents and visitors. A large number of area residents own boats for private recreational use. Therefore, there are a large number of marinas, bait and tackle shops, and businesses for boat maintenance and repair.  According to the Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce, only 10 to 20 percent of local business is seasonal. The "Characteristics of Vacant Housing Units" and the "Comparison of Total and Occupied Housing Units” corroborates the concept that overall commercial activity in the area is year round. In Tuckerton, 24.5 percent of vacant housing is seasonal; 17.5 percent in Eagleswood. Likewise in Tuckerton, 65.3 percent of the occupied housing is with year-round residents; 76.4 percent in Eagleswood.

Transportation 

The Tuckerton and Eagleswood municipalities are compact communities that lie at the southern end of Ocean County. The area is located approximately ten to fifteen minutes south of Manahawkin, Stafford Township. Manahawkin is the closest commercial center for the area, and many residents travel there for shopping and entertainment purposes, as well as to Little Egg Harbor, which has added many strip malls.

The Garden State Parkway is the area's major artery. It provides direct service between major cities and larger towns. Route 9 is the area's principal artery. It is the north/south roadway that connects the three communities. It also connects the area to other local towns in Ocean County. Route 539 is designated the major collector for the area. Route 539 is an east/west roadway allowing major areas to connect to the arterial network. In addition, Route 539 collects the traffic from local roads. New Jersey Transit provides public transportation to the area.

The local bus service runs hourly and travels along Route 9 between Lakewood and Atlantic City. A reduced fare is available to senior citizens and riders with disabilities. Since the bus route is direct and travels along Route 9, it passes numerous businesses, shopping centers, and some Ocean County branch libraries.

The Ocean County Department of Transportation also provides local bus service through two programs. The Ocean County Area Transportation program (O.C.A.T.) is a fixed route bus service for rural areas of Ocean County. The routes give accessibility to shopping areas, town halls, post offices, and mass transit.

The Ocean County Handicapped Elderly Transportation Service, called Ocean Ride (formerly O.C.H.E.T.S.) is also available for senior and disabled residents. The purpose of this service is to transport area residents from their homes to nearby hospital and doctors' offices for medical appointments.

Future transportation plans include a "Bay Shuttle" commuter service that will stop at various docks throughout Ocean County. The boat will operate like a bus line along the Barnegat Bay.

Community Organizations

The following organizations are based in Tuckerton:

Conservation & Environmental Groups: American Littoral Society; Clean Ocean Action;

Cultural: Barnegat Bay Decoy & Baymen’s Museum; Giffordstown School Museum; Tuckerton Historical Society

Ethnic Heritage: Italian American Social Club of Little Egg Harbor, 

Recreation & Sports: Pinelands School Based Youth Services

Women’s Groups: Woman’s Club of Great Bay

Recreation and Entertainment

There are a variety of recreational options in the area, many of them outdoors in nature. One of these is the public parks system. Public parks include the South Green Street County Park, which features a scenic view of Little Egg Harbor and offers fishing and crabbing. New recreational equipment has recently been added. Tip Seaman County Park, bordering on Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor, offers twenty-two acres of picnic area, basketball and tennis courts, a softball field, playground equipment, as well as arts and crafts or other events held in the rotunda. Also available to area residents is the Bass River State Forest. Six miles west of Tuckerton, the forest provides a picnic area, swimming, canoeing, hiking, and camping.

There is one skating rink in Tuckerton, but no movie theater. Residents travel to Manahawkin, Long Beach Island, Toms River, or Pleasantville for the widest selection of movie titles.

Residents may choose to visit the casinos in Atlantic City, or journey to Stockton State College for lectures and concerts. Hunting, fishing, and boating are popular with both teens and adults.

The Giffordtown Schoolhouse Museum houses many antiques and pictures of historic Tuckerton. Open seasonally on Saturdays from mid-June through September, members of the Tuckerton Historical Society are available to answer questions.

The Barnegat Bay Decoy and Baymen's Museum was completed and opened in July 1993.  It is located at the Tuckerton Seaport. It is a replica of an "old time" duck-hunting shanty. Artifacts from local residents are displayed, and there is also a museum shop.  The original museum moved from Tip Seaman Park to the Seaport site in March of 2000. The Tuckerton Seaport opened 13 of 26 buildings on May 6, 2000.  The Seaport has exhibits and artifacts that teach about the bay and all phases of a bayman’s life, including boat building and duck decoy carving. 

Annual events include Eagleswood Founder's Day, a day-long celebration including a parade, food, games, and a walking tour of the historic district. The Tuckerton Historical Society holds a yearly flea market at Tip Seaman Park. Vendors from New Jersey and beyond attend. The Old Time Barnegat Bay Decoy and Gunning Show is held each September, both at the park and at Pinelands Regional High School. Shuttle buses provide a link between the two sites.

Work schedules have an impact on the pursuit of entertainment. There is no large employer in the area, and most residents must commute long distances to work, while some work swing shifts. Single-parent families may not be able to take their children to evening activities, and public transportation is limited to Route 9. Basically, a car is required in order to take advantage of area activities. Teens must have their own car or depend upon parents to take them to their chosen activity.

Lifestyles

Baymen once made their living from the bounty of area waterways: fishing, clamming, eeling, and boat building. Even today the Mullica/Great Bay water system is "probably the cleanest, most pristine estuary between the Washington D.C. megalopolis, all the way to Boston." The environmentally sensitive waters are just as vital today. Boating, clamming, and fishing serve now as both commercial and recreational activities. Hunting is another popular pursuit. Area residents are interested in sneakboxes, used for duck hunting, and in decoys, as is witnesses by the continuing popularity of the annual Duck and Decoy Show at Tip Seaman Park.

Several businesses have closed or have moved to locations outside the Tuckerton area. Expansion and renovations have been completed at the Dynasty Diner. Mercurio’s moved ½ block to a bigger building at the corner of South Green Street and Route 9. The Tuckerton Pub is a new restaurant in the area.

The communities of Tuckerton and Eagleswood are small, somewhat insular, and homogeneous in nature. The majority of each municipality's population is white.

Racial minorities, including Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans, make up just over 4 percent of the total population.43 However, the minority population is growing. A comparison of the 1980 and 1990 census counts indicates the overall minority population has very nearly tripled in size.

As a point of comparison, according to Census 2000, there are 3,517 people living in Tuckerton, of which: 3,408 are white; 14 are black; 19 are Asian or Pacific Islander; 109 are Hispanic; and 47 are of two or more races.

Communication

Comcast Cable provides cable television service to area residents. The basic service includes a community bulletin board with postings of sports events, community meetings, and other local announcements. In Spring 2001, Comcast took over Adelphia and TCI. They have retained channel 8, Ocean County Newswatch, which was established by Adelphia.  Channel 21 – Wildcat TV – is broadcast to the community by the Pinelands Regional High School media center, and features a community calendar and repeat videos of school events. Pineland Regional’s school district homepage is: www.pinelandsregional.org/.  Tuckerton Elementary School’s website address is: www.tes.com.inter.net/.

Newspaper coverage of local events can be found in The Tuckerton Beacon, The Press of Atlantic City, The Barnegat Bay Banner, The Sand Paper, and occasionally, in The Philadelphia Inguirer.

The Tuckerton Beacon is a weekly paper, published by the Times-Beacon, with circ of 4,000 (which includes home mailing & store purchases), is the main source for local news coverage. The Press of Atlantic City, Southern Ocean edition, a daily newspaper, has total daily circ of 4,852 and Sunday circ of 6,347.  In the 08087 zip code area, of which Tuckerton is a part, daily circ is 2,000, and Sunday circ is 3,100.

Two free publications are The Barnegat Bay Banner and The Sand Paper. The Banner is published biweekly. The Sand Paper(circ: seasonal, 45,000 and up) and The Beachcomber are published weekly, and The Leader is published monthly, and boasts a circulation of 9,100.

Two radio stations frequently used in the area are WJRZ, broadcast from Manahawkin, and WOBM, broadcast from Toms River. Both stations offer coverage of local events. Some other radio stations: WJLK, The Point; Oldies 100; WMID; WBBO.  Marine broadcasting including weather, tide, and other boating information is available to residents. AT&T High Seas Radio broad- casts from Manahawkin, while Global Marine Communication is located in West Creek.

The Tuckerton Beach Association publishes a monthly newsletter of the same name for its members, which keeps residents of the lagoon community, Tuckerton Beach, up to date on local & marine events. 

The Tuckerton Seaport publishes a bi-monthly newsletter about Seaport events, the Seaport Sentinel, which is sent by mail to Seaport Society members.

Local churches will generally, upon request, make public service announcements to their parishioners or publish them in the church bulletins. Additionally, area stores will post fliers.

 
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