Summer Vacation: Mantoloking Beach, New Jersey

By Tee1

Great Family Beach Vacations in Mantoloking

The Mantoloking Beach is the classy little place that other beach spots aspire to be. This Ocean County, New Jersey borough boasted a population a bit less than 300 in the 2010 US Census. The town comes alive in the summer, with an estimated seasonal population of 5,000.

[pullquote]Derived from the Unami language used by the Lenni Lenape, who lived in New Jersey, Mantoloking means either frog ground or sand place.  [/pullquote]

Generalizations are frequently stupid, but the residents of Mantoloking are a fairly successful lot. It is also an expensive place, with the median price of a home $1,403,349 in 2012, according to Forbes magazine. James Gandolfini, aka Tony Soprano, spent his summers here both as a famous actor and as a kid. Another great believer in law and order, Richard M. Nixon, spent his summers here during his time as the Vice President under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. More in tune with the local sensibilities was the Oscar winning actress, Katharine Hepburn who owned a summer house here.

Where is Mantoloking?  40°06′N  74° 05′W

While Mantoloking might be the wealthiest community in the state of New Jersey, and it was not spared from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. Roughly 90% of the properties in this lovely beach town were damaged by the storm surge in the 2012 storm. The most damage occurred where a breach formed between Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike the Maryland beach resort, Ocean City, in 1933, this breach was a curse not a blessing. Over 50 houses needed demolition after the storm made landfall in this little town with an area of merely 400 acres.

No alcohol is sold. Mantoloking is a dry town.

Fancy Beach Architecture in Mantoloking

Like its neighbor to the north, Bay Head, the Mantoloking beaches of Ocean County are found along a long narrow barrier island, known as the Barnegat Peninsula. In theory, the barrier island separates Barnegat Bay from the waters of the Atlantic.

The Mantoloking bridge connects the town to the mainland in Brick Township across the Barnegat. The water here also produces Olympians (from the Yacht club) as well as chaos.

[pullquote]Since the 17th century, its estimated that there have been 7,200 ships that have wrecked off the 127 mile stretch of beauty that is the New Jersey coast. In the 1840s, an average of three vessels a month wrecked in these coastal waters. Experts say that this is one of the most dangerous passages on the planet. [/pullquote]

Some of the many “summer cottages”, found along the beach were created by architect Stanford White. His firm, McKim, Mead & White, designed the West Wing of the White House, Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, Colombia University, Madison Square Garden (2) and a few other places. The town is considered part of the Jersey Shore’s Gold Coast along with Bay Head and Point Pleasant.

In November 2014, as a 3.5 mile long retaining wall was being installed on the beach in Mantoloking, a worker uncovered the wooden deck of an old ship. The ship is a mystery, but an archeologist believes the vessel to be greater than 100 feet and most likely capable of trans- Atlantic voyages. If the archeologist is correct with their assessment, most of coastal ships, like sloops, barges, schooners and fishing boats can be easily eliminated.

Indicators are leading the current team of state archaeologists in the direction of a 19th-century ship, the Ayreshire. The wreck was discovered when workers attempted to put a massive steel beam into the sand. Two separate times the pile driving equipment was broken until a pile of timbers and a wooden, barrel-shaped windlass were uncovered.

Shipwreck on the Jersey Shore!

The Ayreshire was transporting 202 people and also hauling coal. It ran aground and wrecked during a snowstorm in January of 1850. It’s believed that the majority of the poor souls on the vessel were Irish laborers, families and farmers trying to escape the famine. A million people died between 1846 and 1851 due to crop failure and some evil people.

Summer Vacation in Mantoloking Beach, NJ

On the 12th of January in 1850, the passengers and crew of the Ayrshire were saved by the Francis Life-Car. Quite often, vessels en route to New York via the busy sea lanes frequently “came to grief on the shores of Long Island and New Jersey. In the 1840s, an average of three vessels a month wrecked in these coastal waters.”

The Joseph Francis’ life-car was moved from shore to ship and back on something like a clothesline. It was an enclosed metal capsule which could hold up to five people. This was the first time the life car was used and it was a fabulous success.

If you are fortunate enough to spend a few days or more on the beach in Mantoloking, bring a good book and some beer (its a dry town). The main road, Highway 35, is relatively slow moving, which somehow adds significantly to the charm of this Atlantic beach destination. If you are looking for some excitement or need to entertain kids, the boardwalks of Point Pleasant and Seaside are extremely convenient.