Gordon Hesse


View to Barnegat Light ca. 1930

Photo by Lewis Crowell, courtesy of Ocean County Historical Society

Professional photographer Lewis Crowell was drawn to Island Beach's may forms of beauty.  He documented it's many locales and events over a span of nearly 60 years beginning around 1910.

Early Life-Saving Station,

Photo courtesy of NJ Maritime Museum

One of the first USA federally-funded life-saving stations was in Island Beach

Ocean view with carport

Photo courtesy of Betty Van Schoick Anderson  

Once there were more than 74 shacks on Island Beach.  Now less than a dozen are standing.  Many were made from driftwood and repurposed materials.

Tenacious vegetation

Challenged by the salty gales and sandy soils, the plant life on Island Beach is unique and tenacious.  It has adapted to nature's forces in ways that often startle the eye.

Artensis runs aground

Photo courtesy of Gail Anderson

In a fog on June 8, 1916 the Norwegian vessel Artensis Norge ran aground just north of Island Beach. Life-saving crews, including those from Island Beach station, rescued all 19 of the ship's crew. Thousands were reported to have come to witness the vessel before it was refloated.


Expect the unexpected

Remaining photos by G. Hesse

On any given day - winter, spring, summer or fall - Island Beach can offer pleasant surprises if you lleave yourself open to the experiences it offers.

At Island Beach fortunes came & went

Photos courtesy of Ocean County Historical Societry

Local industries included harvesting eel grass - used for padding, insulation and as a fire retardent - and pound fishing for markets near and far.

Top secret WW II missile tests

Photo courtesy of Island Beach State Park

Due to its privacy and isolation, Island Beach was ideal for the development of ramjet missiles from 1944-45.

Island Beach - A Sonnet in the Sands provides a view back into the little-known past of this unassuming 10-mile stretch of the Jersey Shore. On a barrier island that stretches from the Manasquan to Barnegat Inlet, It has been left largely unscathed by increased populations and development.

A sample below from the 385 images in the book give a sense of the rich history and drama that has unfolded in this unique and beautiful landscape. This book has won 1st place 2018 awards from the Delaware Press Association AND the National Federation of Press Women.

Beach Buggy culture

Photo courtesy of Paul Harris

As a premiere East Coast surf fishing spot, Island Beach has created a whole culture of beach buggy enthusiasts.

© 2017 Gordon Hesse


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